To date, there are only seven out gay Olympian who will be participating in the Sochi Games. And they are all lesbian. So that barely counts. Closeted athletes, however, are legion. And while Olympic divers are coming out to stand proud in droves these days, the figure skaters with outties hold an unbeatable record: The first, and so far only athlete to come out during the Olympics was John Curry, a gold-medal winning figure skater at the 1976 Olympic Games.
Curry, who was the flag bearer for Great Britain at the Innsbruck Games, is credited with bringing the artistic and presentation aspects of men’s figure skating to a new level for his ballet-like posture, extensions, and superb body control. He was also credited for his love of men thanks to an expose published by the German tabloid newspaper, Bild-Zeitung, which – talk about awkward timing – was shown to him on camera as he came off these ice after completing his gold medal-winning routine.
British team officials held a press conference the next day to broadcast Curry’s response in which he acknowledged he skated for the pink team. Curry’s skating abilities drowned out the sensationalism of his coming out story. The only change was self-inflicted: he didn’t wear stage make-up at the Olympic ice gala at the end of the skating competition in case people said he looked effeminate. Being known as a gay Olympian did not end his career. He received a hero’s welcome on his return to England, and then went on to perform with and eventually own a popular commercial ice skating show.
Coming out after the Games is a popular mode of acknowledging that you skate for the pink team. Johnny Weir did it after the Vancouver Games. Rudy Galindo did it while still competing but long after his chances at performing at an Olympics event were over. And thanks to President Obama outting him by naming him as one of three gay men and women on this year’s official U.S. delegation, Brian Boitano too has finally flown the rainbow flag for all to see.
Not that when you compete in a sport that requires you to wear copious amounts of rhinestones and sequins, admitting that you’re gay is exactly earth-shattering news. But then gay skaters have always played it coy. Which may well not be the case in Sochi. Not since Vladimir Putin accidentally got cornholed by a zamboni has there been such an obviously gay presence on the ice as there will be when U.S. competitor Jason Brown laces up his skates come February.
At the Nationals this year, the announcers ooohed and awwwed over figure skater Jason Brown as only announcers for male figure skating can, telling all again and again what a crowd-favorite Jason was and how his youthful exuberance appeals to all. Well, at least to all figure skating fans. That’s because Jason qualifies as both a gay man and an ugly lesbian (though he has some stiff competition from snowboarder Shaun White for that honor). We’ll have to wait to see if his costume choice for Sochi qualifies for the tranny vote too.
The 19-year-old, who won the free skate program and a silver medal at the Nationals in January – earning him an Olympic berth and a ticket to Sochi – hails from Highland Park, Illinois but is a student at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs where he studies Japanese. He began his skating career at the age of three because his older sister skated. And what little boy doesn’t want to grow up to be just like his oldest sister? Not that Jason was exactly athletic as a child. “I couldn’t even touch my toes (as a kid),” he says. As an adult, I’m sure, that’s a trick he’s mastered by now.
At age 11, Brown won the bronze medal on the novice level at the 2009 U.S. Championships, followed by winning the national junior title at the 2010 U.S. Championships, In 2011, he won the silver medal in his Junior Grand Prix debut in France and finished 9th in his senior national debut at the 2011 U.S. Championships. Jason began the 2011–12 season by winning his first Junior Grand Prix event in Brisbane, Australia, followed by a silver medal win in Milan, Italy, and then won the overall gold medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final.
He finished out 2012 with a bronze medal win at the World Junior Championships. In 2013 at the same competition he placed third in the short program and first in the free skate, with a silver medal win in the overall competition. But it was his Riverdance free skate performance at the 2014 US Figure Skating Championships that got ice skating fans all over the US all atwitter. Literally. His performance’s YouTube video has received over 3 million hits. And his trademark ponytail – which he calls ‘she, or he’ – has its own Twitter account.
Off the ice, Jason says his favorite actors are Bradley Cooper and Jake Gyllenhaal, and his favorite TV show is Modern Family. Because there’s nothing gay about those choices. He also likes romantic comedies – and what 19-year-old boy doesn’t – but is terrified of horror flicks. Which makes you wonder what he thought of Behind The Candelabra ‘cuz he’s taken many years of piano lessons too. His favorite colors are blue and black, and he says he only travels wearing black clothes.
He also always puts his left skate on first, which I’m sure FOX News won’t be pleased to hear. And while he has yet to address the gay rumors that are sure to start flying in a matter of weeks, to cover his TMI quota, Jason says that when he competes, between the six minute warm up and the actual competition, he never goes to the toilet. Which could help explain his amazingly active foot work on ice.
How Jason Brown will do at Sochi remain to be seen. He faces some stiff competition in the individual events, and the U.S. has yet to announce which athletes will compete in the Olympic’s new orgy on ice, the Team Trophy event. That he and his ponytail will gain even more fans, however, is a given. And maybe, John Curry’s record of being the only Olympian to come out during the Games will finally be broken.