There’s A Whole Load Of Homophobic Bullying Going On In The Male Figure Skating World

It's made us think again about Yuzuru Hanyu's gold medal winning performance


by Hattie Brett |
Published on

Did you – like us – watch 19-year-old figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu win a Gold medal yesterday and get a whirly-room feeling that’s normally reserved for Saturday mornings at 3am when you’ve collapsed into bed? Pretty amazing, right?

The Japanese became the youngest male figure skater for 66 years to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics – even though he took two falls in his amazingly impressive performance. ‘I thought the gold medal was not in my hands,’ Hanyu said afterwards. ‘I was so nervous and I was so tired.’

All together this was one of our favourite – like mind-blowing moments – of the Olympics so far. But it’s also made us pay attention to the world of the male figure skater for the first time – and turns out it’s got a very dark side. Including a whole load of ridiculous (but sadly all-too-believable) perceptions that just because you’re a bloke who’s partial to a bit of lycra and ice you must be gay.

‘Even if you're a figure skater and you're not gay, you're called gay all the time or you're made fun of for being a figure skater,’ Johnny Weir, the former U.S. Olympian who is openly gay, has said about the homophobia. ‘I've been in the sport long enough and know enough straight people in the sport that it's very grating on your psyche to constantly be told something that you're not and made fun of for something that you aren't.’

But the taunts aren’t just annoying and out-dated – they’ve also had tragic consequences. Including Jamie Hubley, 15, an openly gay figure skater in Canada, killing himself over constant abuse over his sexuality and love of the sport. His father Allan said after his death that the harassment had got so bad that bullies had tried to stuff batteries down his son’s throat on the school bus.

It’s all the more depressing because in reality figure skating is the most physically trying exercise in the Winter Olympics – and the impact on their sportsmen’s bodies is intense. Russian champion Evgeni Plushenko, for example, has had 12 surgeries and he’s only 31. Who’s never making a lycra joke again?

Follow Hattie on Twitter @hattiebrett

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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