Safi hits Johnny Weir controversy on the head

American figure skater Johnny Weir just keeps getting judged and undermined by the mainstream media.
Simon Husted is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and the web editor of

If you’re not familiar with who American figure-skater Johnny Weir is, don’t worry. I didn’t even have time to watch the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Luckily, Weir has been able to stay in the news outside of the Olympics, thanks mostly to his flamboyant behavior on and off the ice rink.

As noted on,  two broadcasters criticized Weir last week, claiming he hurts the image of figure skating and should be issued a gender test. The two broadcasters aren’t the only ones giving unfair scrutiny to the three-time U.S. National Champion. It seems everyone in the mainstream media is doing the same.

Now, I was going to prepare some long-winded showcase of just how cruel broadcasters and sports reporters portray Weir, but luckily Bryan Safi, the host of Infomania’s “That’s Gay” gave a brilliant analysis on the controversy.

(By the way, if you’ve never watched “That’s Gay” before, this would be a good time to start. The show touches on a wide range of gay issues and gives a very funny yet insightful look into each one.)

Safi pretty much covers everything I was going to say; however, I do want to add one critique against Weir.

Why does Weir avoid questions about his sexual orientation?

When asked about his sexual identity by Washington Post staff writer Hank Stuever two weeks ago, Weir responded:

“People talk. Figure skating is thought of as a female sport, something that only girly men compete in. I don’t feel the need to express my sexual being because it’s not part of my sport and it’s private. I can sleep with whomever I choose, and it doesn’t affect what I’m doing on the ice, so speculation is speculation. I like nice things, and beautiful things, so if that is the only way people are determining that I swing one way or the other, then to me, that’s sad. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, ever . . . I am who I am, and I don’t need to justify anything to anyone.”

Way to get defensive about such a simple question.

For a persona as bizarre as Weir’s, I don’t understand why he needs to make a big deal about what sex or gender he’s attracted to. He acts as if revealing he’s gay, bi or straight will endanger his career. (Because a man wearing Lady Gaga-inspired attires doesn’t already aim enormous attention at himself.)

No one’s asking him what bedroom position he takes or who he has a crush on. Sure, there’s still plenty of prejudice against gays in 2010, but with all of the existing scrutiny against his behavior now, the question is as harmless as asking where’s Weir’s hometown.

With the sports world as homophobic as it is today, it seems it’s still hard for gay and lesbian figure skaters to find a role model.

— Simon Husted

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