Coming Out: Johnny Weir Tells His Story

By: Brandon Voss

OK, so you knew Johnny Weir was gay way before he came out in his 2011 memoir, Welcome to My World. Want a medal?

Before his written admission at the age of 26, the flamboyant three-time U.S. figure skating champion's sexuality was confirmed only by observations and educated guesses. He briefly addressed his questioned sexual orientation with The Advocate in 2010 while fielding threats from antifur activists: The gay-or-not-gay question has died down — people got over it. I still feel the same way about it. It doesn’t matter to me if someone is gay, and it doesn’t matter to me as a person what sexuality I put out there. I don’t want them to look of me as white or gay or Whoopi Goldberg or whatever. I want them to see Johnny Weir. Anyway, all the gossip has been all about the fur issue at this point.”

The Olympian finally put the gay rumors to rest in Welcome to My World, which was excerpted early in People magazine. Asked about his decision to officially come out now, he told People, “I’ve never felt the need before. Why come out of the closet when you’ve never really lived in one? But I didn’t want a reporter to do it for me.” 

Although he knew that he was gay since puberty, Weir wrote in the book that he didn't come out to his mother until one week after he turned 18:

I waited until one night after my dad had gone to sleep (my dad is a cool guy but homosexuality is completely foreign to him and not something I was ready to throw in his face).

“Mom, adult to adult, I need to tell you something. I’m gay..." Suddenly it felt like I was sitting in the room with a stranger, and this was my mom, my best friend. She started to cry. I wasn’t angry. No mother wants to hear her son say he’s gay. Those two words rip the picture of a daughter-in-law and grandchildren into pieces. I felt sorry for my mom and wanted her to know everything was going to be all right.

“I really don’t care Johnny, as long as I know that you are happy,” she said.

Suddenly I felt this great freedom. It’s not an issue for the rest of my family and they don’t ask any questions, which I consider a blessing.

Weir addressed this special mother-son moment when he spoke to Meredith Vieira on Today.

“Having talked about that moment with my mom several times,” the author told Vieira, "it wasn’t the fact that I was coming out as gay to her; it’s that she was so worried about my future and my future happiness. That’s all that we’ve ever talked about. She just wants me to me happy — with a man, marrying a woman, having kids — no matter what my future holds, she wants me to be happy. She just thought it would make my road more difficult, which it many cases it has.”

"I’ve never lived in a closet. I’ve never claimed to be straight or gay," he continued. "I claimed to be Johnny Weir… I was born a white male, a white gay male, and I don’t celebrate being white or male, so why should I celebrate being gay...? I’m much more than just a gay man.”

On being pressured to come out publicly, Weir also writes in his memoir:

All the gay websites couldn’t figure out why I was such a jerk that I wouldn’t talk about it. A lot of gays got downright angry about my silence. But pressure is the last thing that would make me want to “join” a community.

My being gay is the smallest part of what makes me me. Yes, I have some stereotypical gay traits (I love flowers, fashion and I’m an ice skater for Christ’s sake). But I also have traits stereotypical of a Jewish mother (I’ll feed anyone I can get my hands on) and a regular ol’ rural male (I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty). The massive backlash against me in the gay community only made me dig my “closeted” heels in further.

I'm not ashamed to be me. More than anyone else I know, I love my life and accept myself. What's wrong with being unique? I am proud of everything that I am and will become.

With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story.

And Weir's coming out story definitely has a happy ending: With the closet door shut firmly behind him, the Be Good Johnny Weir reality star married boyfriend Victor Voronov at the end of 2011 — months after being named grand marshal of the L.A. Gay Pride Parade. Welcome, Johnny!