Olympic figure skater Eric Radford just came out as gay in a piece in Outsports. We know, we know—a gay figure skater might not seem like breaking news. But Radford’s story is important because, despite the stereotypes, there’s still a fair amount of hostility to out gay skaters within the sport.
Radford is, after all, the first skater to come out publicly at the peak of his career. Only one other Olympian, Rudy Galindo, has come out while still competing at all, and Galinda retired that same year.
Now 29, Radford thought about coming out before Sochi, and perhaps making a statement about Russia’s persecution of LGBT people, but he held off. “My concern was that I would be known as ’the gay athlete’ if I came out at the Olympics, rather than Eric the medalling figure skater who happens to be gay,” he says. “And I felt uncomfortable with that title.”
The Ontario native isn’t uncomfortable in his skin now: Radford and his skating partner, Meagan Duhamel, nabbed the silver in Sochi and the gold at a Grand Prix event in Osaka, Japan. They now head to the Grand Prix finale in Barcelona and, down the line, the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Far from embodying the insulting cliches about male skaters, Radford is actually damn bad-ass: During the short program at the 2011 World Championships, Duhamel’s elbow came down and accidentally slammed his nose, breaking it instantly.
Instead of falling, or crying or even wincing in pain, Radford completed the routine, with blood pouring from his face. Let’s see those NFL players try that.
When he’s not skating, Radford lives with his boyfriend of four years, Normand, and Normand’s teenage daughter.
“I’m proud of our whole situation, how we’re basically a gay family. We function great, we get along so well. We have become a family,” he tells Outsports. “I was only 25 when I met Normand. I don’t know many gay guys that age who would take on that responsibility. But I jumped right in.”
Being dad to a teenager? Now that’s bad-ass.
Feature photo: Jennifer Goren