Sunday, January 9, 2011

Johnny Weir's Coming Out: Still Important

He's eluded questions about his sexuality for years, but in a new memoir scheduled to hit shelves this Tuesday (and in an upcoming issue of People magazine), figure skater Johnny Weir comes out -- officially. The media's general reaction has been, "Yeah, and the sky is blue," but anytime someone comes out, it's a good thing. From EW's Popwatch:
Of course, Weir was nothing if not defiantly flamboyant on the ice rocking a tassel, so why wouldn’t he just come out when so many gay websites downright demanded it? “But pressure is the last thing that would me want to ‘join’ a community,” he writes. He may be gay, but it’s not what defines him. He has what he sees as stereotypical gay traits (“I love flowers, fashion, and I’m an ice skater, for Christ’s sake”), but as he sees it, he’s also got the characters of a stereotypical Jewish mother (he wants to feed you), and “a regular ol’ rural male” (he’ll get his hands dirty). “The massive backlash against me in the gay media and community only made me dig my ‘closeted’ heels in further.”
Denis Ayers from AfterElton, admits that they are "one of those websites he's referring to," but, "I can't say we were angry so much as sincerely frustrated that Weir played coy for so long. It made him awfully hard to write about or appreciate. What did it say about gay visibility when someone so visibly gay seemed obstinate in refusing to own up to it? How could he be considered a role model?"

Full disclosure: I think people need to live their lives on their own terms, revealing as little or as much as they desire; however, for a celebrity it's not exactly practical, and Johnny's being "closeted" did managed to breed enough hostility, even while he was subverting traditional masculinity. But it's the last part that's important, too, more than whom he's sleeping with: he subverted traditional forms of masculinity -- while being an athlete, while being a public figure, and yes, while cheekily dodging questions about his sexuality. In that respect, I never considered him particularly closeted. This Jezebel commenter succinctly sums it up:
On one hand, coming out = good.
On the other hand, subverting the hell out of heteronormative socialized masculinity = good.

Either way, Johnny wins in my book

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