Olympian skater and three-time U.S. National champion figure skater Johnny Weir recently talked about his experiences breaking into the sport as a gay teen. Despite his abundance of undeniable talent on the ice, one agent told the teen phenom his sexual orientation was going to be a problem.
“I had just turned 16 and I was competing internationally at the Olympic level," Weir said Monday night on the Halloween-themed Villians Night on Dancing With The Stars. “An agent approached me with my mom and said the world is your oyster and we’re the agency that can take you where you want to be. But he then looked at me and my mom and he said if you work with us and we create this future for you, you can't be gay.”
Weir remembered being “mortified” not just at the agent’s bigoted statements, but also because “at 16 standing with your mother that isn’t necessarily a topic that you want to address.”
Luckily for Weir (and the skating community), he had a supportive family that didn’t listen to the so-called expert.
“I remember going up to our room and my mom just said, we don’t need them,’ he recalled. "You're just going to skate really well, you're gonna book the jobs by yourself.”
Weir took his mother’s advice, and also used the agent’s statements as added motivation to succeed on the ice while being true to himself.
“I used all of that negativity to my advantage and became a national champion.”
Weir and his partner, Britt Steward, performed a Viennese Waltz to a cover of “Creep” by Radiohead for the spooky DWTS special Monday night, and they did not disappoint.
The 36-year-old two-time Olympian from Coatesville, Pennsylvania, revealed in 2018 why he had never come out publicly like many LGBTQ+ athletes have done. As for as Weir was concerned, he wore his sexuality the same as he wore his “sex” or “skin color and didn't consider it a “great secret” that had “nothing to do with my skating or my dreams.”
Weir remains grounded despite his successes in large part due to the support of his family who refused to hide or be ashamed of his sexuality.
“I was extremely lucky to grow up in a family/community of acceptance and perhaps that’s why I don’t see my sexuality as something that needs addressing," he tweeted. “I am forever indebted however, to the warriors who came before me that allow me to lead the life I do so openly.”