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New Zealand Olympic Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup: I'm Gay

Blake

New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup has come out of the closet in Australia's DNA magazine, Outsports reports.

Said Skjellerup: 

"The first real issue was that I was there [at the Olympics] to compete – to focus on my skating – and to not have the focus on my sexuality. We are not yet at the point in society where being gay sportsperson is not a big deal. If I was asked during any of my twenty-something interviews at the Olympics whether I had a boyfriend or a girlfriend – in the same sentence – I would have replied honestly, but I may have replied hesitantly...Gays are too often given a stereotype. Back when I was 18, and becoming serious about my sport and my Olympic goals, if I could have seen an athlete like myself out there – with whom I could relate to – my journey would have been a lot easier.  [American figure skater] Johnny Weir meets a specific stereotype, I meet a specific stereotype and [Welsh rugby player] Gareth Thomas meets another. Being gay is just like any other personality trait: it’s multifaceted. I can’t personally relate to Weir or Thomas, and nor will many other young gay athletes out there. But maybe some of them will see something in me to relate to. The more types we provide, the more we’ll appeal to people [who are struggling with their sexuality.]"

Note: Weir has never officially come out.

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Comments

  1. good for him another young person giving a positive image and someone for young people to model their lives after.

    Posted by: walter | May 5, 2010 9:43:45 AM


  2. I like what he said, and how he said it.

    I couldn't relate to Weir or Thomas either, but the more examples of us who go public, the easier it becomes for then next.

    Posted by: JAMES in Toronto | May 5, 2010 9:46:23 AM


  3. I don't know. His comments actually sorta rubbed me the wrong way.

    Posted by: DF | May 5, 2010 10:03:26 AM


  4. I don't think it matters if Weir ever announces if he is gay, or not. He is very much open with sexuality in far different ways. That's important too.

    Blake sounds like a man with a lot of grace, and very grounded.

    Posted by: Lis | May 5, 2010 10:04:29 AM


  5. "Weir has never officially come out."

    Are you kidding me? Speaking at a gay rally and saying "This community, us, our people"? Chelsea Handler referring to him as gay like 5 times in an interview and him not denying it? I understand not jumping to conclusions about the sexuality of celebrities, but you don't have to say the words, "I am gay" to be out.

    Posted by: Chris | May 5, 2010 10:12:53 AM


  6. Chris i agree. Sometime the words can come as a shock to some people even though its plainly obvious in every way it can be, either by action or words (other than those 3). Weir is gay, he just hasnt said those 3 words directly. Does he need to, really??

    Posted by: rovex | May 5, 2010 10:23:32 AM


  7. Congratulations, Blake! I hope you read Towleroad.

    I do agree with his comments. Young gay people should be encouraged to be out, open and honest, and yet to always remain true to themselves and their own uniqueness. If you never want to attend a parade or hit a gayborhood bar, more power to you. You're no less one of us.

    Now, as I've said before, I do believe that refusing to come out does make you less a member of our community, simply because we are defined by our choice to be honest about who we are, and if you refuse to be honest to those you love but live a gay life, you are the antithesis of who we actually are. You're a shell without any substance.

    You don't have to say "I'm gay" to be out, true, but you do need to do more than your best Liberace impression. And considering what we're going through and where we are in the world, saying "I'm gay" is the VERY least you can do.

    Thanks, Blake!

    Posted by: JeffRob | May 5, 2010 10:30:53 AM


  8. Chris, phrases like "this community," "us" and "our people" can be taken in whatever context the speaker meant them. He could have meant by those phrases "Americans" or "humankind" or "supporters of equality" or "those like me who stand out as different from the norm."
    And a person's not getting defensive or upset or even just correcting someone when they make assumptions about him doesn't mean that person's assumptions are correct. I've occasionally let people make incorrect assumptions about me before (without correcting them or clarifying) just to watch them put their foot in their mouth.
    Imagine, for example, if there were a rumor that Barack Obama is Puerto Rican, and a member of the press were to goad him with, "You Puerto Ricans are all the same." The classiest response might be just to ignore the sly "accusation" and not to "deny" it.
    Johnny might well be gay... or bi, or trans or intersexed or straight. I just don't know, but wouldn't make an assumption based on words like "we in this community."

    Posted by: GregV | May 5, 2010 10:52:38 AM


  9. I'm sorry, but when a male jock officially comes out, I think he at least owes us one shirtless photo.

    Posted by: Rick S. | May 5, 2010 10:52:58 AM


  10. Gregv honey let it go cause you failed.

    Posted by: Cajiva | May 5, 2010 11:45:34 AM


  11. How hard is the relate to other people? Do they have to be EXACTLY like you before you can relate to them? I honestly don't get that point.

    Posted by: Rick | May 5, 2010 11:55:53 AM


  12. gregv, Johnny Wier is definately gay, and most likely a bottom, so super gay. Your gaydar must be clouded with lactose, lay off the Haagen Daz and you'll see things clearer.

    Posted by: ty | May 5, 2010 12:01:04 PM


  13. I couldn't be happier for Blake. He's very cute too.

    Posted by: Bill | May 5, 2010 12:06:22 PM


  14. Clearly, Johnny Weir is not hiding his homosexuality. It would still be powerful for him to say "I'm gay."

    Posted by: jersey | May 5, 2010 12:58:51 PM


  15. Ditto, James in Toronto.

    The more public examples of all the different shades of gay that are out there, the better it will be for everyone.

    Posted by: Casey | May 5, 2010 1:29:37 PM


  16. Everyone is making great points. IMHO though Weir is definitely out. But he also deliberately has never said the word "gay" about himself in the media. Is it because he doesn't want to become "gay figure skater Johnny Weir," or because he doesn't like labels, or because he's testing the media in some way (i.e. "everyone knows I'm gay, but what if I actually never say that word?") I think a deliberate experiment would be very interesting, but it's probably the least likely of the three options above. Thoughts?

    Posted by: Chris | May 5, 2010 1:38:54 PM


  17. @ Rick...

    I think you're missing Blake's point. This isn't a matter of having someone "just like himself", more a matter of having someone who he feels a connection with, there is a difference.

    I can absolutely see why he can't relate to Weir or Thomas. Weir has a very flamboyant, over-the-top personality, while Thomas is a man's man playing in one of the roughest sports around. They're, to him, extremes in effeminacy and masculinity, I guess he sees himself as a regular guy who happens to be a world-class speed skater.

    Agree with him or not, he's got a point about how we relate to people who have something in common with us, and that certainly helps when it comes to role models.

    Posted by: DR | May 5, 2010 1:47:58 PM


  18. isn't it enough that the floodgates appear to be finally bursting, and known figures, especially sports figures, are coming out in rapid succession? couldn't we just say thanks and welcome? the carping and parsing really needs to go away, imho, if we want this trend to continue.

    we have multiple christian singers who have come out this year, and now even a country singer. regardless of their motives, the fact is they are out.

    yay for us.

    Posted by: jack | May 5, 2010 2:10:33 PM


  19. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and a really good chance at doing alright for himself. Good luck, man!

    PS: I totally agree that he owes us a few shirtless pictures. He's super cute!

    Posted by: Alexander | May 5, 2010 3:13:38 PM


  20. Harvey Milk said it over and over and over....35+ years ago....COME OUT,COME OUT..Just come out and be honest about who you love and who you innately are. Since I've been out and open 30 years now and it wasn't so long ago that Elton John,George Michael,Ricky Martin,Ellen,etc.etc. remained firmly bolted in their closets and before them Carey Grant,Rock Hudson,Katherine Hepburn,etc. So unfortunately there will always be obvious closeted gays(Sean Hayes,Michael Urie)and openly closeted(in private life)gays(Anderson Cooper,John Travolta,Oprah Winfrey,Queen Latifa are only a few of the thousands(or millions) that exist in the entertainment industry. It's challenging enough being gay in the world but the lying and deception must get exhausting every day.

    Posted by: SFshawn | May 5, 2010 4:56:13 PM


  21. Well said DR,

    Posted by: NYSmike | May 5, 2010 5:48:34 PM


  22. I don't believe him. I think he's lying about being gay...you know, for the perks.

    Posted by: TANK | May 5, 2010 6:03:02 PM


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