Canadian ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver has come out in a heartfelt Instagram post while also acknowledging that figure skating has a way to go toward inclusivity with only a few out women in the sport.
Weaver and her ice dancing partner Andrew Poje placed seventh at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They announced in the summer of 2019 that they would be taking a pause from competition. In her coming-out post, Weaver says the worldwide shutdown forced her into a place of reflection that allowed her to come into her sexual identity more fully.
“Over the last year, with a lot of time to think, feel, and connect with myself, I’ve come to a place of acceptance. I identify as queer woman and this is something I’ve known for a long time but was not ready to face,” Weaver wrote. “For years I really hated a big part of myself, and that took a huge toll on my mental health — especially when the world stopped and the only thing I could do was look in the mirror. There’s nothing worse than hitting rock bottom and not wanting to climb out.”
Weaver, who earned world championship medals with Poje in 2014 (silver), 2015 (bronze) and 2018 (bronze), continued in her post:
“I’m shaking writing this message, but knowing that I’m moving in a loving, authentic, and compassionate way feels right. You all know me- I follow my heart, and that always leads me to the right place. I’m ready to move forward living, loving, and being honest with all of my identity. And it has been so empowering to arrive at a place where I can do that. I’m so grateful to have Andrew’s support throughout it all - and it brings tears to my eyes to know that in him I’ve always got the best partner, and friend, for life.”
The world-class athlete elaborated on the need for more inclusivity in her sport.
"We are in a judged sport. We're afraid to put one toe out of line for fear of what people will think about us," Weaver told the CBC. "Coming out was never something I considered. It was not on the table for me. Fear. It was not even a real conversation I could have with myself."
She feared being a queer woman in the sport might negatively impact her scores, she said.
"Coming out is still not safe in a lot of countries around the world. On an international panel, who knows what someone is going to judge you for?" she said. "It puts you even deeper into hiding."
She also advocated for inclusivity across the board.
"It's really important to look around and ask what we are missing here. That goes for racialized people, too. You look at our sport. It's white. It's heteronormative and it's elite," she said.
"Why are there no queer women? What's the reason? That's why I feel it's my job to ask why we don't feel safe. Why can't you be one and the other? It's our job to look critically at our sport and say what groups of people aren't represented here."
With Weaver’s announcement, she’s now one of a handful of out women in the figure skating world, joining Amber Glenn, Karina Manta, and Fumie Suguri.