A few days ago, in a preview of the upcoming 2007 US Figure Skating Championships, openly gay figure skater Mark Lund comments with Nancy Kerrigan and Lou Tilley, making some really strong statements about skater Johnny Weir and how he fits into gender roles.
Obviously, Mark Lund is way out of line here — whether or not Johnny is out is irrelevant to me, but his trashing Johnny Weir for Johnny’s femininity is outrageous, homophobic and disgusting. Let Johnny be who he is – we adore him; flames and all – he’s an extraordinary skater of enormous power and beauty and it’s breathtaking to watch him on the ice.
After this statements in the video, public reaction was fierce – people went to Johnny’s defense immediately, and Mark Lund found himself making this statement:
“It has unfortunately become typical that journalists and members of the media who dare to comment about a celebrity or public figure that acts outrageously often come under attack. I see I am now one of those unfortunate targets. This is in reference to remarks I made during the television show Reflections on Ice regarding the reigning U.S. Men’s Figure Skating Champion Johnny Weir.
My credentials in the sport and art of figure skating are well known, as is my orientation as an out gay man. I stand by my statement “overly out without being out” 100%. I say to Mr. Weir, “You enjoy being outspoken and a free spirit. You have said frequently that you have been brought up to speak your mind. However, you refuse to support the very community that paved the way for you.” I say to all those that believe my comments about Mr. Weir were homophobic to take a step back and realize the beliefs you are actually expressing. Mr. Weir is an individual who enjoys all the rights of the gay community without coming out to support the gay community. Now who is the hypocrite here? Most certainly not me.
With Mr. Weir posing for photos wearing heels and elaborate makeup in the pages of BlackBook magazine, I say, ‘Please don’t insult the grand drag queens of yesterday and today, unless you thank them for their tireless efforts of days past and present by acknowledging them publicly.’
My comments regarding his costuming were nothing more than what you see in the newsmagazines and on TV when journalists critique celebrities on the red carpet. I have never liked his costumes and they have become more and more elaborate in recent seasons. They do not represent the sport of figure skating that I love. Why don’t we take a look at the competitive costumes of skaters like Robin Cousins and John Curry. They understood classical elegance. Without a slight to great ballet dancers, my comment that Mr. Weir looks like a prima ballerina on the ice was meant to illustrate what I feel is his outrageous presentation of the sport and art of figure skating. I know I am not alone in my comments.
As a gay man who grew up in a small town in the 1970’s, I was able to look up to those in the sport of figure skating–gay and straight–who earned my admiration through character, dedication and sportsmanship. I am glad to say some of them are great friends of mine today.
Mr. Weir is free to wear what he wants, but he should back it up with actions. No one denies his enormous talent, but my comments were meant to reflect my feeling that he prefers drawing attention for being outrageous to drawing attention for being a great figure skater. The subject of the show on which I made my comments was a preview of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which is a competitive sporting event.
To Mr. Weir, and his apparent legions of fans, to quote the old scoring system, there has been no 6.0 in your collective performances.”
Mr. Lund has some serious self-reflection to engage in before calling Johnny Weir to task for not being out of the closet, frankly, because Mr. Lund’s comments were nothing short of homophobic and gender-conformity shaming, which is horribly out of bounds for someone claiming to be an an “out gay man.”
In the “real world” of figure skating that Mark Lund claims as his own, same-sex pairs and same-sex dance are not allowed, and changing partners mid-skate was a rebellious performance at a competition that got one set of skaters disqualified. Men wearing dresses are not allowed. Until recently, women wearing pants on the ice in competitions was not allowed and even now it’s heavily frowned upon.
At the Gay Games, skaters did all of these things in ways that provoked thought about the sport itself, what it means to skate and what it means to perform in roles and on the ice as a gay person. Where the fuck was Mark Lund during the Gay Games, if he’s so out of the closet and proud of his sport? I saw every second of the skating performances there; he was nowhere to be found. And the figure skating performances there were nothing short of extraordinary — world-class figure skaters in performances that bent and broke gender roles in every conceivable way, and which were truly inspiring because they couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Johnny breaks gender barriers that need to broken in every single sport – until every person, including gay and transgendered people, can find their inner athlete, be able to compete in the sports they want in the ways they want, every sport will be lacking, though the athletes in it may not know it.