Last spring, Out Magazine came out with their list of “100 Hot Out Gay Men” which included people in entertainment, sports, politics, business, etc. What?! Not a single figure skater was on the list! Therefore, since the new ice-skating season is now upon us, here is my own list of seven hot out gay men of Figure Skating.
And before going any further, I am going to quickly dismiss any discussion about figure skating not being a true sport. I challenge anyone to give it a try — figure skating requires a tremendous amount of balance, stamina and flexibility. And figure skaters look calm, cool, collected and fabulous while competing.
My list of outstanding men include skaters from the past and present. In alphabetical order:
Brian Boitano. This 1988 Olympic Champion continues to be a perennial spokesperson for U.S. Figure Skating and has hosted his own popular cooking show. President Obama appointed Brian, as an out proud gay man, as one our American delegates to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 to counter some of the close-minded anti-gay rhetoric of Russian President Vladmir Putin.
Rudy Galindo. This skater of Mexican descent overcame economic and personal hardship to win his senior U.S. championship on his eighth try, in 1996, becoming the oldest men’s champion in 70 years. And he won the world bronze medal that year! He also was a pairs national champion with his skating partner Kristi Yamaguchi. Rudy is the first openly gay U.S. champion and also later shared about being HIV-positive. He went on to a stellar professional career with his entertaining “YMCA” program, and was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2013. Rudy is now making his mark as a coach and choreographer, including working with current U.S. Silver Medalist Polina Edmunds.
Randy Gardner. Randy Gardner was a five-time U.S. and one-time World Champion in the late 1970s with his skating partner Tai Babilonia. Randy had remained active in the skating world, continuing to skate in shows and coaching at Dorothy Hamill’s Adult Figure Skating Camp. Randy has now embarked on a new venture, starring in his one man show “Go Figure!” about his fascinating personal and skating life.
Brian Orser. Brian Orser of Canada finished second in the 1988 Olympics to Brian Boitano in the famous Olympic “Battle of the Brians.” Brian Orser has now gone on to be one of the most successful international coaches on the planet, having coached two Olympic champions (Yuna Kim of Korea and Yazuru Hanyu of Japan) and currently coaches the top two men in the world (Hanyu and Javier Fernandez of Spain.)
Eric Radford. In December 2014, Eric Radford of Canada publicly came out as gay in an interview with the LGBT publication Outsports, becoming the first competitive figure skater ever to come out at the height of his career while still a contender for championship titles. Then in March, 2015, Eric and his partner Megan Duhamel won the world pairs title, making him the first openly gay figure skater ever to win a gold medal at that competition. He is an ambassador for the Canadian Olympic Committee’s #OneTeam program to combat homophobia in sports.
Adam Rippon. Adam Rippon came out as gay in a feature story of U.S. Figure Skating Magazine a few months ago and how does he follow up the story? By going out in January and winning his first US Seniors title to go with his two silver medals! The current U.S. Men’s Champion with his fashion-model stunning good looks is one of the hardest working yet kindest and most loved skaters in US figure skating today. Raised by a single mother, this oldest of six children also serves as a fine supportive role model and loving older brother to his five siblings.
Johnny Weir. Sure, the flamboyant and outspoken three-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympian Johnny Weir may have his critics, but three things cannot be denied about this fine young man: First, he is now emerging as a superb figure skating broadcasting announcer who takes his work seriously and showcases his vast knowledge of figure skating and every single competitor. Second, he is an excellent spokesperson for diversity and individuality, and treating all humans with dignity and respect. And, third, he always treats all his fans and especially children with kindness and personal attention. I have personally witnessed Johnny at arenas after events and even if there is a long line of adults and children wanting to say hi or take a photo, he stays until he gives some time to the very last person.
info: Blog author Stan Kimer, in addition to training as an adult competitive figure skater himself, is a career development and diversity consultant with a deep expertise in corporate LGBT diversity strategy and training. Please explore the rest of my website at totalengagementconsulting.com and never hesitate to contact me to discuss diversity training for your organization, or pass my name onto your HR department. This article was originally published in March 2016, has been edited for timeliness and is republished with permission.