Wesley Campbell doesn’t the look the part of a gay figure skater. Standing at 6-foot-3, Campbell and his muscular build tower over many of his peers.
In public, he says he wears cowboy boots, and kind of dresses “like a straight guy.”
But looks, as we know, can be deceiving. Campbell has been an out gay man for the bulk of his life. The pro figure skater and coach recently sat down with Outsports and told his story.
“By the time I was 10 I knew I was attracted to guys,” he said. “I don’t think I was ever exactly in [the closet], and I had this sense of self that was ultimately, if someone didn’t like me, then don’t like me. And I had to just roll with that. It’s not easy for anyone, but it wasn’t particularly hard for me. When I got to that age to make some choices, it wasn’t scary for me.”
Despite stereotypes to the contrary, there aren’t a large number of out male figure skaters competing at the pro level. But there are more than other sports.
Eight out gay male skaters competed at last year’s Winter Olympics, including French gold medalist Guillaume Cizeron, dreamy ice dancer Lewis Gibson and the iconic Eric Radford. Campbell hung out with Radford this year when he was touring for the show Holiday on Ice.
Campbell’s travels involved 137 shows in 29 countries.
A competitive solo skater, Campbell represented the U.S. at the world junior championships, and won three titles.
As the Outsports piece points out, his best finish among senior men in 2008 was seventh, behind three of the greatest Americans to ever lace up the skates: Evan Lysacek, Johnny Weir and Jeremy Abbott.
Through the years, Campbell turned to performing, and even earned a spot in Anchorman 2. He toured as part of Willy Bietak’s Broadway on Ice, Art on Ice and Carre’s Art on Ice. The latter took him to gay-friendly Switzerland; the latter took him to Oman, one of the worst countries in the world for LGBTQ+ people.
Performing for the Sultan in Oman’s capital city, Campbell says the oil rich nation’s elites were blown away by his efforts.
“We had to have conversations with the office about how to make certain things on social media private so it wasn’t a concern,” he told Outsports. “We were very looked after and protected. Doing something for the Sultan, safety wasn’t an issue.
“And they loved it.”
It’s easy to see why! Campbell’s career has taken him around the world, from Germany to Colombia.
Though Campbell has received overtures to continue his pro career, he’s now focused on coaching. He says he works with some of the most promising young skaters in the world.
“In my first season as a full time head coach, I have been so blessed to have athletes who have shown up, trusted the process, and given it their best work one day at a time,” he wrote this week on Instagram.
Oftentimes the only out skater on the ice, Campbell knows the importance of visibility. He wants to provide younger skaters with a gay role model, and show them it’s OK to be expressive in all venues.
“I hate it. I wish it was just about people doing their thing and being who they are,” he said.
When it comes to that, Campbell is certainly doing his part.
Anybody knows if he needs a travel companion for his next world tour?