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Weir Hit With Backlash From LGBT Community Over Russia Views

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Jan 16, 2014
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Johnny Weir
Johnny Weir  (Source:AP Photo)

Figure skater Johnny Weir said in an interview Thursday that he’s received backlash from the LGBT community for his views on Russia and the upcoming Sochi Olympics, Reuters reports.

"I’ve come under so much hate and scrutiny from within my own LGBT community for my views on the Olympics," three-time U.S. champion Weir, who is openly gay, told Reuters. "But as somebody who watched my parents sacrifice everything so that I had at least one chance of making the Olympics, I could never boycott the Olympics whether they be in Pyongyang (in North Korea), in Uganda, in Iran or Mars."

Weir, who is a self-described Russophile, came under fire for his support of the Olympics last month, saying the LGBT community should not boycott the Games because it is "not the place to make a political statement." He also called Russian protesters "idiots" for "dumping vodka in the street."

"I’ve never had a bad experience in Russia," Weir told news site Vocativ, "I’ve not gotten called a fag or been beaten up. I only see the rosy, golden side. I choose to see Russia in an arrogant, selfish way. I didn’t know what to think about the new law."

Weir, 29, also told Reuters this week that he would have competed in the Sochi Olympics "because my whole life has been about going to the Olympics" but he didn’t make the cut.

"Being gay isn’t something that I chose, being gay is something I was born into," he said. "But being an Olympic athlete was something that I chose and something I worked hard for and I’ll see it to any necessary end. The entire Olympic team is not made up of LGBT people. It’s people who’ve sacrificed their livelihoods, it’s people who’ve sacrificed their parents’ finances and health and sometimes even marriages to get that one chance at glory."

"As an athlete who’s lived it, I could never turn my face to that. While equality is necessary all over the world, the Olympics is not the place for me to make a stand," he added.

The athlete went on to comment on those who are protesting the Olympics, saying "There is this pre-conceived notion by many of these activist groups who think that the Olympics are a place to make change and it’s a place to have your story heard and it’s a place to fight for the LGBT community of Russia."

Weir, who will be a NBC Olympics commentator in Sochi, reiterated his views on the sporting event, saying he sees "the Olympics strictly as a sporting event and not a political event. In Beijing, there were human rights issues going on before the (2008 summer) Games. Even in London, the week before (the 2012 Olympics) all these security concerns had come out."

"I’m just going there to be me, to be gay, to be proud and to be a strong light for the Russian LGBT community," he told Reuters. "Those who want me to be more gay than I am are going to be disappointed and those who want me to be less gay than I already am will be disappointed. My statement is simply being there and being gay and showing the world and the Russian government that there is nothing weird or wrong with me and that there is nothing weird or wrong with the LGBT community in your country, so we shouldn’t be treated as a pariah."

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