LGBT Activists Call Johnny Weir “Olympic Clown” For Covering Sochi Games For NBC


Photo: versha sharma

An LGBT activist group protested an appearance at New York’s Barnard College by  former Olympic skater Johnny Weir, who has signed on to be a correspondent with NBC during the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Members of Queer Nation stood outside the school with a banner (above) branding Weir as a “Olympic Clown” and decrying the network as “bloody collaborators.”

johnny weirThe group accuses NBC of trying to minimize the issue of Russia’s anti-gay agenda to justify its airing of the mammoth sporting festival: “NBC has had the openly gay Johnny Weir, a former figure skater, and Thomas Roberts, the openly gay MSNBC anchor, make public comments that suggest that Russia’s anti-gay laws are not harming LGBT Russians,” said Queer Nation’s Duncan Osborne. “But those laws have led to the arrest and imprisonment of LGBT Russians, and have resulted in de facto state-sanctioned beatings, torture, rape, and murder of Russian lesbians and gay men. NBC should stop deceiving the public and tell the truth.”

Weir, 29, also faced hostility at his talk, entitled “The Sochi Olympics and the Role of Athletes”: “At the end of my speech I opened the floor to a Q&A and it turned out that those very people protesting my speech, were actually friends of the faculty and brave LGBT activists who stood in the same room as me,” Weir wrote in a column in today’s Falls Church News-Press.

He admitted calling the protesters “idiots” in the heat of the moment, but says “I felt, and still feel, a great deal of remorse for allowing myself to insult other people, fighting in their own way, and for using insulting words instead of my usual cheerleading antics for one and all.”

Though he apologized for letting “my tongue [get] away from me,” the flamboyant figure skater also stood his ground:

 Despite many activists bravery, they also have a very pointed way of trying to make everyone around them an activist and to stand for a cause. My stance of being pro-athlete before being pro-gay has ruffled so many feathers and it becomes difficult to speak publicly because of this fight.

As a non-confrontational person, I take it very hard (obviously) when I offend people or they feel the need to tell me that I am awful. Many activists also believe that change starts with a revolution, a term that terrifies me. I am not against activism in any way, but I don’t have the strength of character to not only revolutionize my life on a daily basis but also the lives of others. Our differences are vast, but we all live for a purpose.

Do you think Weir should be boycotting the Games? Or is he supporting the athletes by going? Make the call in the comments section below

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.