Sport
Kaitlyn Weaver Hopes Her Coming Out Story Finally Shatters The Female Figure Skating Archetype

Kaitlyn Weaver Hopes Her Coming Out Story Finally Shatters The Female Figure Skating Archetype

It is a sport imbued with creativity, beauty and strength. Ice dancing is poetry in motion, two skaters gracefully weaving across the surface of the ice together. Their precision and symmetry are something to marvel at.

But figure skating is also littered with judgment – an international panel of judges going through every little detail, then providing their score.

It’s that suffocating weight of knowing she was being watched every second that has kept Canadian ice dancer Kailtyn Weaver from hiding what she calls her little secret.

But now, two years after quitting competitive figure skating, Weaver is tired of dancing and keeping the façade just to be accepted into the sport she loves.

On Friday, the 32-year-old skater became the first female Olympic skater to declare herself gay.

“I’ve reached the point of not wanting to pretend anymore. It really took a toll on my sanity to constantly hide a part of who I am,” Weaver told CBC Sports in an exclusive interview. “I feel like it’s a good time in my life to share that I identify as a queer woman.

“I feel like I have to step up my efforts because I know that there are a lot of young girls and athletes who are afraid to share who they are,” she said.

For 13 competitive seasons, Weaver was alongside his skating partner Andrew Poje. Both have always been near the top of the rankings – they’ve made the top five in nine of those years, are three-time world medalists in ice dance, took silver in 2014 to go with bronze in 2015 and 2018, and competed in the 2014 and 2018 Olympics for Canada.

But throughout their success, Weaver knew something was missing. She couldn’t identify him because she didn’t even allow herself to go to that dark and scary place to face her sexuality.

“I never thought about coming out”

“We’re in a judged sport. We’re afraid to put a toe out of the line for fear of what people will think of us,” Weaver said. “I never thought about coming out. It wasn’t on the table for me. Fear. It wasn’t even a real conversation I could have with myself.”

Weaver was unwilling to risk what she calls her competitive livelihood – she believed it would negatively affect their scores.

“Coming out is still not safe in many countries around the world. On an international panel who knows why someone is going to judge you?” she said. “It puts you even more underground.”

But now it’s time to move on. For herself. And for those who will come after her. Weaver knows what is at stake, as she is now able to fully see the extra weight she was carrying by not fully giving herself to life and competition.

Weaver and Poje competed together for 13 seasons, finishing on the podium at three world championships. (Getty Images)

“What makes us different is correct”

“It’s been a struggle. It’s been a struggle to come to terms with that part of myself, but I think last year we all went through our experiences knowing that what makes us different is good and something to celebrate, ”she said.

Last year, locked in by the pandemic and with time for reflection, Weaver confronted her sexuality in ways she never could have competed. She says it was time to look at yourself in the mirror and face it. Weaver says it’s been easy to put her on the back burner throughout her career, as she was always on the move and distracted by the performance.

But maintaining that facade has been and has taken its toll.

“I’ve been doing this my whole life. Skating first, personal life then. I’ll find out later,” she said. “But it got to the point where it wasn’t healthy anymore. When the pandemic hit, I just knew it was going to be that. It was about time.

“I had nowhere to hide. I needed to do it myself.”

WATCH | Weaver, Pojo waltzes to 4th place in the World Team Trophy:

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., Finished fourth in free dance with the best 124.18 points of the season at the ISU World Team Trophy event in Fukuoka, Japan. 8:54

Weaver was born in Houston, Texas. She moved to Canada at the age of 17 and got into her sport. That was all for her. It was everything she identified with and how people identified her.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the young girls and women in my sport to play the archetype. I think it’s our responsibility to say yes, you can be that, but you can be all of those other things too. too, ”Weaver said. “I follow these things too, I like to play the part of the princess and wear the dresses.

“So when I was discovering myself and my sexuality, I didn’t feel those two things matched. There was no role model in my sport who was like me,” she said. .

There is a lightness and energy in her voice now as she shares her hopes and dreams for what lies ahead, something Weaver says she hasn’t felt for a very long time. And while there is this new perspective, she still has fears about how the world will view her.

“I don’t know what’s in store for the other side. There’s a lot of excitement. Some fear. But you know what, it’s time for it to stop being a thing. I’m ready to step into the light, ”she said. .

WATCH | Kaitlyn Weaver reminds girls that sport is for everyone:

On International Women’s Day, we ask that you join us and Canadian ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver in making a commitment to supporting girls in sport. 0:39

Weaver is now calling Manhattan, NY, home. She says she found an incredibly supportive group of people there, enveloped in their love in this big change for her.

It’s also Pride Month, something Weaver has celebrated in the past but not the way she wanted to. That has changed for this year.

“I feel in my bones that I can celebrate in a different way. It’s not a secret little nook in my heart that I’m celebrating now,” she said. “That’s what it was for a long time, my little secret. It’s so good to be able to share all of my heart.”

And it is her hope that she will chart a new path in her sport for those who are still competing and

“It’s really important to look around and ask yourself what is missing here. This also goes for racialized people. You look at our sport. It’s white. It’s heteronormative and it’s the elite.” , she said.

“Why aren’t there gay women? What is the reason? That’s why I think it’s my job to ask why we don’t feel safe. Why can’t you to be both? It’s our job to take a hard look at our sport and say which groups of people are not represented here. “

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