Johnny Weir Faces Off with LGBT Activists at Barnard Appearance, Calls Them ‘Idiots’

Earlier I posted about Queer Nation protests of Johnny Weir at a talk at Barnard College last night. Weir appeared at the talk with his husband, Victor Weir-Voronov. The openly gay skater is contracted to work at the Sochi Games as a commentator for NBC.

Weir_voronovApparently there were fireworks inside the talk as well, as Weir defended his love of Russia and attacked the LGBT activists protesting him outside.

Reports Andy Humm at Gay City News:

During his talk he spoke of “idiots like the ones outside tonight, dumping vodka in the street,” action he dismissed as useless.

“They say all these stupid things,” he told the audience of about 40 Barnard women students. “I never supported the [Russian] government. I supported the people.”

Polling shows the Russian people support the anti-gay laws overwhelmingly.

“We’re angry at him for not telling the truth about what’s going on in Russia to LGBT Russians and everybody else who dissents, who are being brutalized,” said Ann Northrop of Queer Nation at the protest. “He is selling out millions of people to satisfy his desire not to forgo his income or status. Is this what he would have done in Germany in 1936?”

Protest_weirVersha Sharma at Vocativ backs up Humm's report:

The real tension came when he referenced “idiots like the four outside,” referring to the half-dozen activists from organizations Queer Nation and RUSA LGBT who were protesting the event. They held up a banner in front of the school gates that read, “Weir: Russian Olympic Clown; N.B.C.: Naive Bloody Collaborators.”

“I as a gay man hope there’s a beautiful iconic moment, but I don’t think it will happen in Sochi,” Weir said.

The iconic moment of Weir’s talk came when longtime activist and reporter Andy Humm called out Weir for his “idiots” comment and demanded the figure skater apologize.

“You insulted them,” Humm told Weir, pointing out that the activists outside “have 100-plus years of experience…they won your right to get married.”

“When I feel attacked, I have the right and ability to say something,” Weir responded, and then apologized.


  1. Jack M says

    Really, the last thing we should be doing is protesting against LGBT people who disagree with us on how to deal with Russian politics. If we disagree, we should deal with it and move on. Any energy we spend on sniping at each other should be used more constructively.

  2. Martin says

    Didn’t he wear a Russian military uniform on tv a few months ago? That’s a pretty clear endorsement of the current regime. After what’s been going on there, for him to do that was a stab in the back.

  3. Ricky says

    He’s right that dumping out vodka (almost none of which is actually made in Russia) was pointless. He’s also right that our boycotting of the Olympics would be pointless as well. It’s better to let the gay and lesbian athletes go there and kick ass. I don’t see where Weir is minimizing the plight of our Russian brothers and sisters. He was a dumb-ass for calling people idiots though – the protesters have a valid reason for being pissed off.

  4. says

    Weir is wrong when he says the Russia law is a “law that says you can’t have anal sex in front of libraries.”

    It’s a little bit more oppressive than a ban on public sex.

    Unfortunately this NBC token tool won’t stop talking about things beyond his depth of understanding.

  5. Joey Y says

    Oh please. 95% of the screaming that those people with “100 years of experience” did accomplished nothing. At the end of the day, it was the quiet professionals, friends, and people who can negotiate without alienating and insulting people that won gay marriage. Staging events to accost people doesn’t make anyone want to support me.

  6. Tired says


    Because it’s obvious that Weird was hired to for the sole reason to deflect criticism away from NBC. It also benefits the network at that little Kapo has fans in Russia who support his gay male = flamboyancy only/respect the military/no criticism agenda. Basically he is a neutered gay.

  7. Bill says

    @Ricky: people have a valid reason to object to Russia’s oppressive law, but nothing stops idiots from objecting as well as sensible people.

    Those people protesting probably are idiots. Hopefully, once the relevant powers that be notice and decide that putting up with the protests is worse than doing something about the problem, there will be sensible people who can negotiate with them and actually get somewhere.

  8. anon says

    It’s certainly the case that NBC and Weir are NOT going to ruffle any feathers during the Olympics. NBC spent billions acquiring the rights to broadcast the games and the IOC is a law unto itself. Their behavior is entirely motivated by self-interest. The protesters are pointing this out, but the majority of the blame still lies with the IOC and Russia, not NBC and Weir.

  9. RonCharles says

    This is all so self-defeating. The smart way to handle this is to work behind the scenes to encourage Johnny Weir to use his position at the Sochi Olympics to bring attention to the plight of gays in Russia and to make some statements for human rights and equality. Should he not do that at that time, then, he should be criticized and not before.

  10. David From Canada says

    This is all so stupid. The Gay Community is allowing Russia to divide and conquer it’s ranks.
    If Johnny Weir wants to be a commentator over in Russia, let him. In fact, more power to him as a gay man. He doesn’t have to be an activist. We’re not all clones.

  11. Jon says

    Goodness me, we can’t publicly protest against Russian human rights violations. We should follow Mitt Romney’s advice about taxes and discuss it with civility behind closed doors – not!

    If only those of us who marched for civil rights in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s had realized this, we could have saved a lot of shoe leather.

    And, how about those brave Act Up folks who stood up, marched and protested during the AIDS crisis? Were they ineffective?

    To be so dismissive without understanding historical context is definitely insulting and non-productive

  12. GMB says

    We absolutely SHOULD care about what Johnny Weir says and thinks — because like it or not, he’s one of the very few voices we’ve got that the rest of America will actually listen to during the Sochi Olympics. We’re right to call him out and hold him to a higher accountability.

    But let’s not forget who we’re dealing with; this guy isn’t one to ruffle feathers, despite how many he’s wearing. He was CLOSETED during his entire Olympic career, in spite of being the sparkliest spangle on the ice. Johnny is a performer, first and foremost, and anyone who’s geared to be a people-pleaser is not looking for notoriety via activism.

    – GMB

  13. Markt says

    I don’t understand the naysayers at all. Weir is out and obviously so. He will be an out person, an obviously out person, on TV in Russia during an event that is very popular in Russia. It will make an incredibly strong statement – A much stronger statement than either pouring out any amount of vodka anywhere or boycotting the Olympics. Because then the Olympics would go on as if gay people didn’t exist. To my mind he used the only appropriate word for the protesters. I understand their concerns but their target and logic suck.

  14. Dan says

    I agree with Ricky in that we should let our LGBT go to Russia and kick ass. What does insulting Johnny Weird behind a computer screen in the US do? Nothing, except make you feel superior. But people like Johnny are actually going to Russia and showing his presence to the Russian people. It’s easier to change people’s minds when they know a gay person, especially in a place like Russia where most do not.

  15. Bill says

    @Jon: those Act Up guys were probably far less effective than you think. At the start of the epidemic, our president, a former movie actor, would not even mention it. What changed his opinion was not Act Up, but finally realizing that people he had worked with in Hollywood were affected. That made all the difference – it changed “they” into “we”. The other thing going on was technological: with faster computers and microprocessors, plus other advances, the cost of things like DNA sequencing dropped very quickly.×402.png shows how it the cost per base has dropped over time (and you need to find a large number of bases to get anywhere). That cost savings also correlates with a time savings. has a textual description.

  16. andrew says

    Last winter some friends of mine went to a Gay Skating Party where Weir was the celebrity guest and they said he couldn’t have been nicer. He skated and had his picture taken with everybody. They said that he really made the event fun.

  17. Enchantra says

    Let’s be really clear here. You twits want to crucify Weir because this one man thinks that the way to the Russian heart is through belligerent kindness. You are undoubtedly the same people who are fierce gay rights activists…. from your perch in San Francisco or Washington while expressing nothing but contempt for the people who are actually effecting change simply by refusing to give up on their hometowns and families.

    Johnny Weir is something most of you wouldn’t recognize because you weren’t born to it or you gave up on dignity long ago: he is a gentleman.

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