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Johnny Weir Explains (Twice) Why He Didn't Come Out

Johnny Weir

Much media praise has been given to figure skater Adam Rippon and skier Gus Kenworthy, among others, who are poised to become the first out athletes to compete in their sports in the Winter Olympics.

Their history-making representation was acknowledged by Johnny Weir in a Wednesday tweet. This post also offered an explanation as to why the gay former figure skater never came out during his career, which included two Olympic games.

"Happy that there are representatives of the LGBTQ community competing at the Olympic Games. Notably, @guskenworthy, @Adaripp  & several more. I never 'came out' in sport because being gay was something born in me & had nothing to do with my skating. I never came out as white," the gay former Olympian tweeted.

According to Outsports, the tweet drew some heat from some social media users, who called it "tone deaf" and a "horrendous" comparison between sexuality and race. "Please consider supporting out athletes without making it about yourself. Representation matters," one user commented.

In response, Weir deleted the tweet and declared, "Sometimes there just aren’t enough characters to finish a thought." He added that he would be "splitting last night’s sentiment" into several posts.

As a competitior, Weir was known for his colorful clothes and personality. Notably, he wore a swan-like costume to the 2006 Olympics in Torino, along with a red glove he named Camille.

However, Weir did not officially come out as gay until his 2011 autobiography, Welcome to My World. He wrote that he avoided identifying as gay because he wanted to be seen "for who I am, not what I am."

"All the gay websites couldn't figure out why I was such a jerk that I wouldn't talk about it," he wrote. "But pressure is the last thing that would make me want to 'join' a community. ... The massive backlash against me in the gay media and community only made me dig my 'closeted' heels in further."

As a general rule, the media will not report on a person's LGBT identity unless he or she publicly declares it, which is why Weir would not have been labeled as "out" or "gay" in news reports before 2011.

Weir will serve as a figure skating analyst at the Pyeongchang Games for NBC. Previously, at the Sochi Olympics, Weir worked as an NBC commentator, and he was criticized by some LGBT activists for not taking more of a stand against Russia's anti-LGBT legislation. 

During a speaking engagement at Barnard College for the documentary To Russia With Love, which chronicled his Sochi experience, Weir called his protesters "idiots." He later told The Advocate in a 2014 interview that he is “not a rainbow flag waver” when it comes to gay activism.

"I never, for once in my competitive career was skating in the middle of a performance thinking about my boyfriend, or the fact that I was gay, or Pride parades. I was thinking about landing my jumps and winning medals," he said.

Weir added, “I worked for my whole life for six minutes in front of the world at the Olympics, and being gay had absolutely nothing to do with it.”

Tags: Sports, Olympics

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