Out Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir appeared on the Today show this morning to announce he has not only retired from the world of competitive skating but will join the NBC Olympics team as a figure skating analyst for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
The two-time Olympian and three-time U.S. figure skating champion, who is married to a Russian man, has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT Russians since the country enacted new legislation that bans any public support or promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” that might be accessible to minors, essentially banning any positive discussion of LGBT issues or identities.
"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," Weir said during his appearance on Today. "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.”
Weir went on to say he had no plans to change anything about himself as an out gay man while in Russia and felt LGBT visibility at the Sochi Winter Games was the best way to support both LGBT people and the Olympians who will be competing. "If I get arrested, I get arrested; if not, great, but our presence is needed," he said. "For all the Olympians that worked so hard, a boycott is just the worst thing that you could do to all these young people."
Weir’s sentiments echo those of President Obama, who also advised against a boycott of the Sochi Winter Games and described the worldwide stage as an opportunity. “One of the things I'm really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there,” he said during a news conference in August.
Watch Weir’s full appearance on Today here.