Canada: Olympic figure skater comes out as gay

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An Olympic silver-medallist figure skater has come out as gay.

Canada’s Eric Radford took home a silver medal as part of the team skate after this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi and is a a two-time bronze medallist at the World Figure-skating championships.

He opened up for the first time this week about being gay – in a sport which is stereotypically considered gay, but dominated almost completely by straight men.

Picturing people’s reactions, he said sarcastically: “Oh, a gay figure skater, big shocker.”

However, he points out that as a pairs skater – skating alongside a female partner – heterosexuality is the norm.

He told Outsports: “The judges’ job is to mark our skating. Any sort of bias they could have, they are taught how to judge and how to be as unbiased as possible. It doesn’t always happen. But I’m not afraid.

“The romance doesn’t come through [in our partnership] but the strong connection does.

“A lot of pairs end up dating one another. It can become risky because your on-ice training can be affected by your off-ice relationship.
“If you have a fight at home, it makes that training difficult. I used to joke around that I’m the ultimate pair-boy.

“I never had to worry about developing an off-ice relationship.”

Of why he waited until now to publicly confirm his sexuality – instead of before the Olympics – he said: “My concern was that I would be known as ‘the gay athlete’ if I came out at the Olympics, rather than Eric the medalling figure skater who happens to be gay. And I felt uncomfortable with that title.”

The 29-year-old paid tribute to his late coach Paul Wirtz, saying: “Paul was the first gay person I ever saw in real life.

“The gay people on TV were always very flamboyant, and until I met Paul I didn’t realize you could be gay and just be normal.

“He was the first person I saw who was like that, gay and just normal. He made me realize I didn’t have to be afraid of it.”