Stereotype on ice: My world as a male figure skater

You might be thinking, “Skating sounds awfully gossipy.” It is. I have seen almost too many Mean Girls on ice situations through the years. At least I have plenty of material for blogs or a future in stand up comedy.

In any case, my ultimate goal is that this blog have some sort of point. So I would like to point out that although many male figure skaters are in fact gay, there are also many exceptions. Okay… a few.

Just like any mix of men, some male skaters have girlfriends. Some are married with children. Some slam down cheap beer. Some are womanizers. Yes, Britney Spears could have been singing her “Womanizer” chant to a male figure skater. If that doesn’t change your perspective on the world in some way, I don’t know what will.

Like anything, there is plenty that it undesirable in this icy sport: It can be caddy, petty, competitive, unfair, melodramatic, overpriced, physically painful, and emotionally draining. However, I have found something more beautiful than the expensive costumes. In the figure skating community, the sense of self-expression carries itself off the ice. In this cohort, its members feel free to be who they are. “Gay or straight,” it doesn’t matter, because the epitome of flamboyance can party with the beer-chugging womanizer, and no one bats an eye. This isn’t to say that skaters are a harmonious group where all get along. It is far from it, but at least it’s a small bubble in our world where people don’t hesitate to be who they are.

are filled with stereotypes; gay men also conjure up a multitude of stereotypes. Add the two together, and a common sum is figure skating. Welcome to my world as a male figure skater.

Stereotypes are generally based on some truth. They generally offend at least some portion of the group, as they are simplistic and frequently negative. The gay male figure skater stereotype is one that I spent much of my life fighting until I realized it made no sense for me to fight it. In its essence, I am the stereotype. Figure skater: check. Gay: okay. But do I have a big “G” branded on my forehead? No.

On a quick glance, I do nothing to break this stigma, but I’ve found that being a figure skater has shaped my life far more than being gay or straight. What does it matter about one’s sexuality when talking about a sport? It doesn’t seem to be a topic of conversation in most sports where athletes are assumed to be straight. When there is a big skating event on TV that I invite or force my friends to watch, they always want the “inside scoop,” which basically becomes a guessing game of “gay or straight?” Although I could make a stink and ask why it matters, I don’t, because then it turns into an issue.  It shouldn’t be one. Actually, I eagerly divulge any information I have. Being a figure skater and a journalist, a switch flips me into TMZ of skating mode. Figure skating is an endless frozen pool of drama and entertainment.

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