Johnny Weir will be in Sochi no matter what: ‘If I get arrested, I get arrested’

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I’ve loved Olympian Johnny Weir for a long time. It’s only now that I’m realizing that he’s still in his 20s though! Even though he seems so twee and boyish, I did think he was already in his 30s, but he’s only 29 years old. Weir was on the Today Show yesterday, announcing his retirement from competitive figure skating. Which is a loss for America. True, Johnny didn’t medal during the last winter Olympics, but he skated beautifully (more beautifully than Evan Lysacek, quite honestly) and Johnny dealt with some very prominent homophobia and prejudice, and he dealt with it with a great deal of humanity and grace. He’s lovely. So I’m pleased to find out that even though he’s retiring, he’s already got a gig with NBC and he’s going to the Sochi Olympics as a correspondent! YAY!

After 17 years of figure skating, Johnny Weir is retiring. The 29-year-old athlete officially announced his retirement on the TODAY show Wednesday, Oct. 23, and shared his plans to work with NBC at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“It is surreal writing about my career as if it had happened to someone else and to actually write the words, ‘I am retiring from competitive figure skating,’ Weir said in a statement. “I have cried my way through writing this entire column not because I am sad, or that I’ll miss training or falling or being so nervous I thought my head would explode, or starving or the glory of victory or the agony of defeat, I cry because of the memories that have shaped my life.”

“At twenty-nine, it is odd to explain to the average Joe that I am retiring. While my retirement surely isn’t a shock to the skating world, I have been able to become a sort of face for my sport to people who rarely watch it, and I always quickly follow up the statement of ‘I’m retiring from competition’ with the truth that I will continue to skate and perform as long as my body will allow me and that I pass my presence in the competitive ranks on to some genius upstart, the youth that keeps the Olympics and sports alive,” he explained. “While I am not old, part of being a champion is knowing when your time is up.”

Weir has had many accomplishments throughout his career. He is the 2008 World bronze medalist, a two-time Grand Prix Final bronze medalist, the 2001 World Junior Champion and three-time U.S. national champion.

“Seventeen years ago, it’s hard to say exactly how, but I knew my life would have some magic, and I have figure skating to thank for that,” he said in his statement. “I wish for everyone in this world to have even one moment of finding their bliss and chasing after it at all costs and I pray that you are lucky enough to even have two of those moments, because they are fleeting and sometimes unappreciated.”

During his appearance on the TODAY show, Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie welcomed Weir to their news team and asked how he, as an openly gay man, felt about Russia’s anti-gay laws.

““I’m a gay American. I’ve married into a Russian family. I’ve been a longtime supporter of Russia, the culture, the country, the language, everything about Russia. While this law is a terrible thing that you can’t be gay publicly in Russia, I plan to be there in full support of our brothers and sisters there and not be afraid. If I get arrested, I get arrested; if not, great, but our presence is needed. For all the Olympians that worked so hard, a boycott is just the worst thing that you could do to all these young people.”.”

[From Us Weekly]

I’m including a photo of Johnny and his husband below. Johnny has had a long-time love affair with all things Russian – his last coach/trainer was a Russian woman, he’s married to a Russian-American and I think Johnny speaks Russian too. I think it’s awesome that NBC hired him for Olympic coverage and it feels like NBC’s got his back too. I hope nothing horrible goes down in Sochi for the gay athletes, the gay family members of athletes and the gay journalists and commentators traveling to Sochi. I feel like this is going to be a mess. Ugh.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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56 Responses to “Johnny Weir will be in Sochi no matter what: ‘If I get arrested, I get arrested’”

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  1. Abby says:

    Dang. He was one of my favorite competitors last Olympics. It’ll be entertaining watching him on the correspondent side. I admire his bravery and I hope all goes well while he’s in Russia.

  2. ichsi says:

    Oh God he has such a pretty face!

    I love the decision to send him to the games. Russia would be completely delusional to enforce that law during the games (it’s also delusional to come up with something like that but yeah…) I mean half the business in figure skating, a discipline Russia is amazing in, is run by gay men. Dargh!

    • Anna says:

      Sadly, you can almost always count on Russia to go the ‘delusional’ route, if such is available. I really, really, really hope all the staff is getting PR training on ‘how to avoid an incredibly public and unflattering international incident after the country invested billions of dollars into promoting its image abroad,’ but I am not holding my breath.

  3. Sixer says:

    I hope you don’t mind me saying, Kaiser, but I wish people would stop worrying about “the gay athletes, the gay family members of athletes and the gay journalists and commentators travelling to Sochi”. No athlete or coach is any significant danger of being arrested in Sochi. I think this is hyperbole.

    As Weir says, it’s “our brothers and sisters” in Russia we should be worried about. They should be our focus. Fellow human beings being discriminated against for who they are in their everyday lives.

    I am not in favour of a boycott but if I was, it wouldn’t be the danger to visiting athletes that made me so as I don’t believe there is a realistic one, but that a boycott would be the best way to support gay Russians.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Well said Sixer.

    • lana86 says:

      true

      • MissCherokee says:

        What I find fascinating – is the ERA was never passed. Still to this day women don’t have equal protection as written in the Constitution.

        But women don’t seem to care – instead they have been swept up the media (dominated and ran by men) who once again have chosen to direct it vested interests to other ’causes’.

        So women post these articles and change their Facebook pictures to the red equal signs.

        Not saying gay rights are not important or worthy. Or the human rights are not important or worthy of attention.

        Call me selfish, but if women would direct all this attention and energy to ERA – then it would not still be languishes in the ether since 1923.

        Instead, women are easily swayed. Swayed to let men set the agenda and then to feel like we are part of moment, we act as message bearers.

        I am tired of it. When will the gay men, in Hollywood stand up for women’s equal rights…

      • Nono says:

        Is MissCherokee for real.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        “When will the gay men, in Hollywood stand up for women’s equal rights…”

        I feel like your comment kind of tries to equate what the LGBT community has experienced as discrimination and what women are experiencing. I do think that there is a whole lot of inequality when it comes to men and women in the US…but the LBGT community has had it so much worse for so long!

        Women haven’t been denied the right to marry. That right is still denied to many LGBT Americans in many states, yet the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that marriage is a fundamental right of man.

      • nicegirl says:

        I am right there with you, Miss Cherokee. Um, Tiffany, you may want to do some more research regarding the Equal Rights Amendment and suffrage. Unfortunately, we women get the short end of the stick. There is no need to weigh women’s need for equality worldwide AGAINST any other group’s need for equality. Women have been oppressed since the beginning of time. I am very happy for the folks who are gaining momentum in their quests for equality, but to say women are doing better than any other group seems shortsighted. Women have endured forever.

        Ask Malala.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        No research necessary, but thanks.

        “There is no need to weigh women’s need for equality worldwide AGAINST any other group’s need for equality”

        Which is exactly what MissCherokee was doing, and what I disagreed with. I fully agree with your statement there.

        Additionally, ERA is solely a United States issue. You are writing “equality worldwide”, when that isn’t what MissCherokee’s comment was about. That wasn’t what my comment was about. In the United States, women most CERTAINLY are closer to equal rights than the gay community. I disagreed that the gay community in Hollywood should be more focused on women’s rights in the US than their own rights in the US.

        Anyone (male, female, straight, gay, young, old) should have their human rights respected. A person speaking out for equality for the LGBT community is not doing a disservice to equal rights for women. I reject the idea that in order for a person to be truly committed to equal rights, they must put women’s rights first. One group is no more important than the other.

  4. j.eyre says:

    Good for him on all counts. He does handle himself well in the media. I hope he has a long career on the other side of the desk. He and his husband are an attractive couple.

  5. LadySlippers says:

    Totally off topic but in the last pic he looks like Loki!

    I’m glad he’s standing tall in the face of prejudice! And equally glad NBC will stand with him.

  6. Buckwild says:

    From Russia’s POV, it would be a terrible idea to arrest him: he’s American, well known to the public, has a good fan base, a former champion.

    • blue marie says:

      And that’s why he won’t be arrested. As Sixer said, it is the people living it daily we need to worry for, not the visiting athletes.

    • Merritt says:

      Not to mention he will likely be surrounded by NBC staff the entire time he is there.

    • Anna says:

      Because ‘bad ideas’ stopped Russia before >.<

      • Sixer says:

        Anna – you’re on the ground. Do you really think it’s a possibility? I can see that if an athlete decides to hopskip it out of the Olympic village to make an open protest in a public place, it’s a possibility. But otherwise? Arrests are possible within the Olympic village?

      • Anna says:

        Well, that’s the thing though, they DONT stay confined to the village, right? I mean, in any country. They go out locally (I remember Lochte partying it up in London), and someone like Weir, who isnt actually performing, will probably be moving around more. Plus someone might carry out some sort of a public gesture at a televised event and then…

        Secondly, ‘gay law at the Olympics’ isnt just about the athletes. While I am sure all the teams will be briefed on ‘staying professional’ and not using the games for activism, there will also be thousands of tourists/spectators, many of whom are vocal critics of the law. If THEY decide to do something public, that’s much harder to contain.

        My hope (especially as a not-unbiased media professional) is that everyone on the Russian side of the event, incl security elements, will get briefed to let these things go, unless they take on a really massive form. “These things” being someone wearing some rainbow stuff, or a gay couple making out at a public park, etc. Obviously things like an impromptu gay pride parade are not gonna fly (also will be hard to spin – Russia blatantly not enforcing its own laws?).

        My fear, however, is that even those smaller acts – not even of protest but just self-expression – might be responded to ‘inadequately’ by either the security elements or other Russians (dont forget, the anti-gay law has like 88% popular support). Then security elements have to get involved, and then THAT is the big international story, not the Games.

        I hate to be a pessimist about my own country, but I’m really expecting such a scenario to occur.

        ETA Disclaimer – I work for RT, the views expressed on CB and my blog are my own and do not represent blah blah blah

      • Sixer says:

        Thanks, Anna. I really hadn’t thought about loose cannon spectator/tourists.

  7. Anon says:

    I really want to say something supportive and about how brave he is and how awful the law is, but all I can think is . . . DAMN, his husband is hot!

  8. mari says:

    Goodness, at first glance I thought it was Rooney Mara.

  9. EscapedConvent says:

    I love Johnny Weir & will miss seeing him skate. He has his head screwed on properly on this entire subject.

    I wish long life & happiness to him & his husband.

    • apsutter says:

      Yes he does. And I’m glad that he doesn’t have to try and hide what he says anymore to not tick off the skating community. He can let his freak flag fly and say what he really means. Did anyone else watch his show that was on Logo? Loved it!

  10. Merritt says:

    I’m so tired of him making it all about him. There are skaters who are likely going to be on the Olympic team, who have spoken against this law. He is going to be surrounded by the NBC staff the entire time he is in Sochi.

    His retirement is not news. Everyone knew that when he did not register to qualify to events, that he was not going to go as a competitor. Team USA only earned two spots to the men’s figure skating event for Sochi. It is unlikely he would have earned one even if he had registered for qualification. He has been away from competition for too long. Even Lysacek, who they brown-nose constantly is unlikely to get one of the spots.

    • apsutter says:

      Lysacek is past his prime as well and I highly doubt he’ll make the team. U.S. men’s skating right now is a joke…Japan is going to absolutely crush everyone this season and at the Olympics. It’s sad that the US’s only real legitimate hopes for a medal are from Davis and White. Wagner might be able to sneak onto the podium in 3rd but I think even that’s doubtful.

  11. EmmaV1 says:

    None of those athletes are in any danger as long as “they don’t spread homosexual propaganda” as the government as said. You can be gay and out and probably stereotypically effeminate acting, just don’t wear a rainbow shirt or shout out about gay rights in the streets. It’s honestly not that hard to do…you’re there to compete, not make a political statement, as the Olympic committee has said themselves.

    As people above have mentioned, the people you should be worried about are the ones living there who face supported beatings and persecution.

    And finally, Americans need to stop trying to push their policies onto other nations. Don’t like it? Boycott it and complain, but don’t go to another country as a non-citizen and cry foul. If you don’t like it, stay the eff out.

    • bettyrose says:

      Emma … human rights are a global issue. This isn’t like going to France and demanding people speak English.

      • apsutter says:

        Exactly

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I agree.

        Also, what is considered “demonstrating” is a VERY vague area. The Swedish skater had multi-colored nail polish on her hands and was told to take it off earlier this summer.

        What about the Olympic symbol, which features rings or Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue? Will clothing that shows this symbol be considered an act of protest or demonstration since those colors are also in the LGBT rainbow?

    • Nono says:

      Emma, I’m glad to see your opinion in the comments section. I’ve been noticing that certain of my unpopular opinions haven’t been making it to the comments section (i.e. have been “moderated” and subsequently deleted).

      On to the topic proper: I agree that countries should be able to govern themselves without outside interference, except where there are gross human rights violations. It’s difficult to argue that there’s something substantively wrong with the law as formulated. However, when considered in context, it’s not unreasonable to believe that it will promote homophobia, and thereby foster further incidents against gay Russians.

      That doesn’t mean it’s right for the international community to pressure Russia the way it has proposed to do.

      There is a middle ground. I’d like to see people educating Russians instead of condemning them. Condemnation is rarely conducive to changing minds. There’s nothing wrong with sharing information, and if that information happens to change minds … Of course, the current law makes that impossible.

      P.S. The anti-”gay propaganda” law is rather pointless. The internet being what it is, it’s impossible to prevent its spread. People will be exposed to “gay propaganda” whether they like it or not. Here you are, after all, being exposed to “gay propaganda”!

  12. Heather H says:

    I love Johnny! I am so torn about boycotting, I love the winter olympics. Is boycotting supporting or not supporting the athletes? I’m not sure.

  13. Kiddo says:

    Good for him. On another note, sneaker-highheel-shoe-thingies, whatever, make it stop. NOW.

  14. Stef Leppard says:

    His husband is so cute! He seems like an interesting, smart guy. I wish him the best in his retirement.

  15. Londongal says:

    Love him and in that last photo he looks quite like a camp disco version of ‘Loki’, which I think is possibly the best concept ever.

  16. another nina says:

    I find it very interesting that he was only 17 years in figure skating… Does it mean that he started when he was 12??? In Russia, they start at 4-5. They won’t admit you into any serious school if you are starting even at 7-8….I’d assume you are supposed to have passed at least 3 levels (“razryad”) by the time you are 12. I have 15 years of figure skating but I “retired” when I was 19…

    And no worries, he won’t get arrested. Although I hope he won’t keep a low profile in Sochi. And yes, Tarasova was his coach and he speaks/reads/writes Russian.

    • Boromir's Bytch says:

      Tatyana Tarasova wasn’t Johnny’s coach. She had Ilia Kulik and Alexei Yagudin. Johnny’s coach was Galina Zmievskaya, the same woman who coach Oksana Baiul and was Viktor P’s mother in law. His background is definitely centered in the school of Russian skating though.

      Johnny is an amazing play by play commentator for skating. He’s not afraid to criticize and just as easily compliments when it’s warranted. But screw up or get lazy and he’ll nail the skater with his commentary.

      Skating on TV would be so much better without Scott Hamilton commentating. Johnny will make it watchable if they give him air time and a microphone.

  17. mariaj says:

    I LOVE Johnny, i adored his way to skate, so elegant and classy, and his skating to lady Gaga’s Poker face is one of the most beutiful and fierce thing ever seen in skating. Go, Johnny.

  18. bettyrose says:

    Gawd he’s gorgeous. Like Loki’s little brother. As a correspondent will he be rockin’ some of those fashions? I’ll be watching.

  19. eliza says:

    Why would he be arrested? You do not get arrested for being gay in Russia, you face arrest if you publicly display affection and spread propaganda.

    No athletes or media need to be fearful. Like others have said it is those living there who are at risk. Not foreigners.

  20. Belle Epoch says:

    Wow. I’m very much in the minority here. I feel like we are underestimating Russian day-to-day brutality as well as their commitment to cracking down on anyone even wearing a rainbow pin or, God forbid, holding hands. I hope Johnny will be OK because he’s smart, he’s famous, and he’s the face of NBC (love him!). But I don’t feel confident about ANY of this, and apparently what the Olympic Committee says has nothing to do with reality:

    Russian Sports Minister: We will arrest pro-gay ‘Sochi 2014′ Olympic athletes, guests

    “What we do now is that any IOC assurances for the safety of Olympic athletes and guests are now meaningless.”

    http://americablog.com/2013/08/russian-sports-minister-ioc-lied-gay-olympic-athletes-guests-subject-to-russias-anti-gay-law.html

  21. DreamyK says:

    I’m so glad that NBC chose him as a correspondent. The man is charming, knowledgeable and composed. Also, his husband is adorable. More of them please!

  22. lisa says:

    he basically retired a year ago but the media doesnt really follow skating so no one who doesnt follow the sport knows it

    he did very good commentary on universal sports when they had skating, and more recently ice network

    no one in russia working for nbc at such a high level will get arrested

    • bettyrose says:

      Lisa, I’m guessing he intends to deliberately piss off Russian authorities and put them in an awkward position. I look forward to it.

      • apsutter says:

        I don’t think he’ll do anything deliberate but he also won’t hide his true personality because of bigots. He has a lot of respect for Russia and I don’t think he do anything disrespectful.

  23. apsutter says:

    Johnny was robbed last Olympics…he might not have had enough points for a medal but 6th place was bullcrap. Skating is a pretty conservative sport though and he took a lot of hate because of his flamboyance. I watched Skate America yesterday and got so bummed when I realized that not only is Johnny retired but this is truly the first Olympics without whispers of Michelle Kwan returning. Truly the end of an era…bummer

    • Scarlet Vixen says:

      I watched Skate America, too. I hate that they pretty much only show them Ladies on NBC, especially now that the US ladies aren’t very strong (I miss Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen!!). Adam Rippon reminds me alot of Johnny Weir–not the strongest jumper, but so mesmerizing and elegant on the ice that you can’t take your eyes off of him. Adam is also so pretty like Johnny. :) Then Max Aaron is more like an Evan Lycasek or even an Brian Joubert–strong jumper but weaker artistically.

      • apsutter says:

        Spot on! Rippon is such a cutie and seems to be the new darling in men’s skating right now. Aaron is totally a Lysacek which explains why I don’t really care for him lol. US skating is in a bit of a sore spot right now but I am so grateful to Davis and White for opening my mind to ice dancing. They are exquisite and it’s like watching ballet on ice. Nationals last season was a complete DISASTER except for ice dancing! The field of talent was so deep and it was literally an hour of me being mesmerized with my jaw hanging open lol

        ETA- I do love Brian Joubert tho! Now if only our pairs skating could get it together!

      • Janet says:

        Davis and White are pretty good but nobody ever topped Torvill and Dean, or even came close.

      • another nina says:

        yeah, Janet, you forgot to add your “IMHO”

    • lisa says:

      will you be at nats? im so excited to have it back in a big city on the east coast again