This morning on Today, Johnny Weir announced that he has officially retired from competitive skating and will not participate in a third Olympic Games. "I get old," he offered up as an explaination. Weir had an additional announcement: He will be joining NBC as an "expert figure skating analyst" — doing commentary on the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Matt Lauer asked Weir about supporting the Olympics considering the fact that he's gay and there's been a wave of anti-gay laws in Russia. Weir said:
I’m a gay American. I’ve married into a Russian family. I’ve been a longtime supporter of Russia, the culture, the country, the language, everything about 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, great, but our presence is needed. For all the Olympians that worked so hard, a boycott is just the worst thing that you could do to all these young people.
Interesting that Weir can understand both sides — what it means for an openly gay person to go to a country with repressive and homophobic laws, and also what it means for an athlete to be in the Olympics — and feels determined to support the athletes.
Another skater, Ashley Wagner, recently spoke up about Russian President Vladimir Putin's "anti-gay propaganda" bill, saying: "I have gay family members. I have a lot of friends in the LBGT community… I have such a firm stance on this. I believe we should all have equal rights, and I also do not support the legislation in Russia." On the other hand, reports E.M. Swift for Cognocenti:
Asked at the same media summit for his opinion on Russia’s stance on gay rights, 2010 Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek hid behind the USOC. “I really prefer to leave it up to them to comment,” Lysacek said. “I feel one voice is most powerful.”