Gay US figure skater: I am a ‘hardcore Russophile’ — don’t boycott the Olympics

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A gay professional figure skater from the US has said he is a “hardcore Russophile” and that boycotting the Winter Olympics over Russian anti-gay laws is “silly”.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.

Four Dutch tourists shooting a film about gay rights in Russia were arrested last month, the first foreigners to be detained under the new law.

The law has so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.

However, gay professional figure skater Johnny Weir has recently told the Today programme: “To attack Russia is silly”.

He added: “I am not an antagonist. It is not Russia’s public’s fault that their government is so bigoted and creating so many problems for a minority group”.

During the interview, Mr Weir also described himself as a “hardcore Russophile”.

He said: “I think to help the local LGBT community, our presence is needed.

“It is so much more effective if we’re actually in Russia, showing our support”.

When asked whether this meant explicitly showing solidarity for Russian LGBT people during the games, Mr Weir claimed he was a “purist” when it came to his sport.

He said: “I never like to mix the things I was born with, whether it is me being white, or me being gay, with what I do on the ice”.

Although he said he will not be waving a rainbow flag, he added that every one of his Russian fans would be aware of his sexuality already.

He said: “I am very gay. I give Sir Elton John a run for his money.

“I don’t know if there is anywhere more gay to go”.

Johnny Weir first came out as gay in 2011. He claimed he hoped the announcement would help those with less supportive families.

He said: “With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story.”

Following up on his previous refusal to declare his sexuality, Mr Weir said: ”I was born a white male. A white gay male, and I don’t celebrate being white or male. So, why should I celebrate being gay. That’s my opinion on the whole thing”.

When asked if he would consider becoming a gay rights activist, he added: “I know people have been after this for years, and have worked so hard and tirelessly…. They definitely wanted me to be an activist.

“But the best way I can be an activist is to live my life, and not make that the main thing that is Johnny Weir. I’m much more than just a gay man.”