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Johnny Weir Retiring from Skating, Working as Analyst for NBC at Sochi Olympics: VIDEO

Weir

Out gay figure skater Johnny Weir announced on the Today show this morning that he's retiring from the sport and taking a job for NBC as an Olympic correspondent at the Sochi Games.

Said Weir about going to anti-gay 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, not, great, but our presence is needed. For all the Olympians that worked so hard, a boycott is the worst thing you can do to these young people.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Weir  has described himself as a "true patriot and spokesman for their country" in past interviews and in September wore a Russian military outfit to an interview with Keith Olbermann in which he argued against Russian boycotts.

NbcsochiNBC has been facing heat since July over the anti-gay laws in Russia and the upcoming Olympics broadcast. They have said that they will wait to address the issue until the Games arrive.

"We'll address it at the time because it's still unfolding," said Lazarus, adding that the IOC has taken up the issue with the Russian government.  "The IOC has addressed it with the Russian government and has assured athletes, fans and media that there won't be any issues," he added. "Governments across the world have different laws. I don't know now it's going to [affect] us. If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games we will make sure we are acknowledging it and recognizing it."

NBC also assured its gay employees of their safety in Sochi in a memo sent out in August.

MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts was blasted with criticism last week for accepting a job in Russia as host of the Miss Universe pageant, a job that Bravo exec and host Andy Cohen turned down because of the country's anti-gay laws.

Roberts continues to be lambasted. Wrote Andrew Miller in the Huffington Post:

Thomas Roberts has become the next in a forming line of self-involved celebrities traveling to Russia to show Vladimir Putin how out and proud they are, or how supportive they are of their out-and-proud friends and relatives. Elton John, who will be concertizing in Moscow in December "to support Russian gays," is at the head of that queue. (Figure skater Johnny Weir, who was ready to get arrested at the Olympics in August, got, uh, cold feet in September and is staying home.)

Miller wrote his piece before Weir's announcement today.

Elton John recently announced he would play two concerts in Russia  because, "As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go."

He later said that he would not speak out against the government from the stage but preferred to meet with Russian leaders.

The real and unknown question remains — will any of these openly gay figures step up and make a difference (either with a major political statement or one that has a financial impact on LGBT members of society oppressed by the Putin regime) while they are in Russia, because it is really the only way any of them can justify making the trip.

Watch Weir's announcement, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Weir added, in a statement:
"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.' 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,. While I am not old, part of being a champion is knowing when your time is up."

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Comments

  1. Ugh, this minstrel show on skates.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Oct 23, 2013 10:05:39 AM


  2. Johnny Weir; Thomas Roberts and Elton John are Uncle Toms of the worst kind. They are betraying their people for the sake of cash but pretending that the fact that they are gay somehow justifies their greed and stupidity.

    I would respect them more if they simply said 'Listen making money is my priority, too bad about those Russians but if they interfere with my ability to take a check then screw them.

    These 3 need to be condemned loudly - especially Elton John who has a shameful history of sucking up to fascism for the sake of a check - remember Elton John performed repeatedly to a segregated audience during apartheid era South Africa and he used the same pathetic, spineless justification as he uses here.

    Thomas Roberts; Johnny Weir and Elton John are despicable quislings.

    Posted by: MaryM | Oct 23, 2013 10:08:40 AM


  3. Chickens for Col. Sanders, the lot of them. Rake in the cash though, it's what they do best.

    Posted by: Joesph Foster | Oct 23, 2013 10:12:10 AM


  4. 1-2-3-4-Fire! Let's all start throwing darts at Johnny Weir simply because he dares to do things his way.
    STOP all the bitching against celebrities who are not following the 'norm' about Russia and their anti-gay policies.
    Take a chill pill and calm down.

    Posted by: David From Canada | Oct 23, 2013 10:20:02 AM


  5. Scheduling this Olympics in Russia has done more to shed light on the backwards slide of Russia than any appeal to the media for coverage of the plight of Russian LGBT citizens would have ever accomplished.

    It's fortuitous that specifically this Olympics aligns with the amplified persecution of LGBT citizens by Russia. As for what response the IOC and NBC will ultimately have, they need to realize the entire world is watching them, as well as Russia.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Oct 23, 2013 10:28:47 AM


  6. Every time I read comments on this site, I'm reminded of just how myopic some of you are. Any visible LGBT person who does anything publically in a place where we're oppressed can only help all of us... especially LGBT citizens in that place. Which is braver... not going... or showing up? I just wish they'd find a better person to be an analyst, gay or straight.

    Posted by: kaccompany | Oct 23, 2013 10:30:06 AM


  7. "... and that I pass my presence in the competitive ranks on to some genius upstart, the youth that keeps the Olympics and sports alive..."

    Oh, good lord.

    Posted by: kaccompany | Oct 23, 2013 10:32:49 AM


  8. It's not just about these young athletes. It's also about the people of Russia, who suffer under this law every day.

    Bringing the Olympics to Sochi glorifies Putin and paradoxically solidifies his position against the West. The evil West brings out gay figures with it "in protest."

    Putin will point at Johnny Weir and the rest with one hand and rake in the cash and prestige of the Olympics with the other.

    While we worry about the poor athletes, gay and lesbian Russians are living in fear, being tortured, abused, beaten, and stripped of their dignity.

    Posted by: rustytrawler | Oct 23, 2013 10:33:13 AM


  9. Bringing them to Sochi may glorify him... showing up and speaking out does not.

    Posted by: kaccompany | Oct 23, 2013 10:36:45 AM


  10. How lovely and wonderful! And everything is simply fine in the gay universe.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Oct 23, 2013 10:39:47 AM


  11. Can't stand that fur wearing queen!!

    Posted by: S | Oct 23, 2013 10:45:34 AM


  12. Does anyone think that NBC, THE network of the Sochi Olympics, will let their EMPLOYEE speak out about Russia's anti-gay laws or in any way stir the pot on gay rights in Russia? Not that I think Johnny would really do anything on this front even if he weren't censured by NBC. He was an OUT AND PROUD RUSSIAN (even though he isn't), LONG before he found enough pride to be out as a gay man (which he actually is). He's much more concerned with protecting and promoting Russia than he is in protecting and promoting Russian gays.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Oct 23, 2013 10:47:24 AM


  13. I can't take anyone seriously who uses the word "concertize."

    Posted by: crispy | Oct 23, 2013 10:54:21 AM


  14. KACCOMPANY says: "Any visible LGBT person who does anything publically in a place where we're oppressed can only help all of us."

    ONLY if they speak out against the fascism while in the place they are going.

    Uncle Tom Weir or Uncle Tom Roberts or Uncle ElTom John will show up in Russia; say absolutely nothing to condemn or shed light on Russian fascism; will take their check and leave.

    These pigs are contemptible scum and can only redeem their cowardice and greed by making damned sure that everyone knows their contempt for fascist Russia while they are actually there.

    These people are like 'Jews for Hitler'

    Posted by: MaryM | Oct 23, 2013 10:56:08 AM


  15. What Russian LGBT charities are Uncle Tom Weir and Uncle Tom Roberts donating their fees to?

    Posted by: MaryM | Oct 23, 2013 11:00:41 AM


  16. He just doesn't get it. As others have stated, it's not just about the athletes. As horrible as it may be for them if there were a boycott, the larger issue is the millions, perhaps 10 - 20 million, perhaps more, LGBT Russians. We've done this before. Berlin, 1936. It doesn't do a damn bit of good to reward a government that is persecuting and scapegoating a minority.

    Posted by: Eric | Oct 23, 2013 11:00:58 AM


  17. No Russian network asked him to be an analyst? I'm surprised. He likes to wear their military outfits, call himself a true Russian patriot and spokesmen for their country...but as much as he grovels for their love, he doesn't get it.
    Pathetic.

    Posted by: Mickel | Oct 23, 2013 11:16:25 AM


  18. Well, he and Thomas Roberts can snuggle up together in the cold Russian night. And they can both kiss my ass.

    Posted by: jomicur | Oct 23, 2013 11:38:59 AM


  19. my question - have johnny, thomas, or elton agreed to donate the profits earned from appearances in russia to help victims of russia's anti-gay policies?

    if not, i think i might have stumbled upon their motivation for showing "support" with their appearances...

    Posted by: northalabama | Oct 23, 2013 11:41:02 AM


  20. Hear hear, NORTHALABAMA!

    Posted by: ESA | Oct 23, 2013 11:45:13 AM


  21. If Weir really wanted to make a point of the anti-free speech law in Russia (which is what it really is), he would accept the job with NBC, but insist on commentating on the figure skating via closed-circuit or Skype from a country near Russia that nonetheless treats gays and lesbians as human beings. Not that NBC is going to jeopardize their money from the Hatelympics to actually confront Putin and his thugs that way.

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Oct 23, 2013 11:53:43 AM


  22. I have to admit that my feelings concerning how to handle the anti-gay Russian laws & the Winter Games are confusingly mixed. I feel for any athlete who might be affected by a Western boycott, but for Chrissake it's really only a freakin' medal which in the Winter Games will reap little in endorsements and end up in a drawer and hauled out to brag to his or her kids someday. Or maybe be worn while the ex-athlete sells Toyotas to some guy who never watches the Olympics. On the other hand, Russia has always been a homophobic, ethnocentric, bullying backwater where most citizens still don't realize that their greatest composer was indeed gay. I think it's more important to pressure Western gov'ts to make it easier to permit LGBT Russians to seek refuge in more sane countries before the same fate befalls them as did the Jews in Central & Eastern Europe - either because anti-Semitism on our part or refusal to believe what was happening on their part prevented them from escaping Hitler's grasp.

    Posted by: DrMikey | Oct 23, 2013 12:13:25 PM


  23. "...STOP all the bitching against celebrities who are not following the 'norm' about Russia and their anti-gay policies.
    Take a chill pill and calm down....POSTED BY: DAVID FROM CANADA"

    Whaaaaat? Take a chill-pill?

    ...While 10-20 million Russian LGBTs fear for their lives, all you got to say is ' Take a chill-pill'???

    You've got to be kidding me.

    Did you just soft-ball this officially sanctioned ramp-up to genocide?

    You are a lothesome piece of garbage.

    And you are about as Canadian as my Bermuda Shorts, pal!

    TROLL ELSEWHERE.

    Posted by: Jenny 0 | Oct 23, 2013 12:21:37 PM


  24. Listen people, when you all achieve a tiny portion of the success that Tom, Thomas or Elton have achieved then you can throw shade.
    The bitching here sounds like people who are self loathing, and are particular about the 'type' of gay they think people should be exposed to in the media.
    These are famous gay men. They will be seen as proudly gay people and any visibility to the LBGT community in Russia has to give them hope and support. And bring light on the situation to the world.
    Even if there is a portion of self-promotion, which I am not saying that there is. I think it is their right to help themselves along in a situation that gives gay people an advantage in a particular market. After working very hard to become a top journalist, an Olympic athlete and one of the worlds most successful singers.

    Posted by: 604Brian | Oct 23, 2013 12:53:46 PM


  25. I hope they are as open as they dare (ej can do better)

    I wish them courage

    Good luck to them all

    Posted by: rick heid | Oct 23, 2013 1:00:44 PM


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