The Queerty Interview

Johnny Weir Says He Won’t Tone Himself Down At Winter Olympics

Johnny Weir and G Lounge StaffOlympic ice skater Johnny Weir was the celebrity host for G Lounge’s 16th anniversary party last night in New York City. Accompanied by Victor Voronov, his husband of two years, and some Russian gay men, Weir toasted the Chelsea gay bar’s birthday with bartenders dressed in bow ties, cummerbunds, and no shirts. The night also celebrated the opening of an art piece by David Paul Kay in the space: essentially black lines drawn on wallpaper all over the joint. Queerty chatted with Weir about what’s to come at the Winter Olympics in Moscow, whether we should boycott Russian vodka and why Michael Lucas is badmouthing him.

[Update: After posting this interview, Sports Illustrated revealed that Weir will definitely not compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics because he “did not register for the qualifiers for the national championships.” The deadline to register was September 1.]

You’ve been very vocal about not boycotting the Russian Olympics but going and being proud of who you are. Has anything changed that?

Honestly, no. I still believe even more so that we need a strong presence of LGBT people and countries that support our kind. We need to be there to show our solidarity to the world, to the community, and hope for change. We need to show that we’re normal people, that we’re good in all aspects of life. I think the only way for Russians to know that is to see us there.

Do you think there are going to be any silent protests, like rainbow flags?

I think that during the Olympics, there will be silent protests and there will be moments where LGBT athletes and friends of the community will do something to draw attention to our plight. But as far as it coming from the athletes, it’s in the rules that we aren’t allowed to join in a protest. We aren’t allowed, whether it’s for gay rights, African rights or Asian rights. We aren’t allowed as athletes.

You’re allowed to wear your country’s colors, though.

We are allowed to wear our country’s colors, but until we can all move to the gay nation [New York City], then we have to respect the rules of the people that are bringing us to their country, as unfortunate as that is.

Any painted nails in Moscow?

If I’m lucky enough to qualify for the Olympics, I will bring the usual Johnny Weir. I’m not going to tone myself down, but I won’t go over the top to make a statement. My statement, whether people feel it’s enough or not, is being there. The fact that I can be proud, strong and an Olympian? That’s a huge statement. And the Olympics are a thing I’ve worked my whole life for, and they’re something I respect so much. For people to really understand all that goes into the Olympics, you have to live it. Which is why I understand the criticisms I get from a lot of the gay press and a lot of the gay people in this country. But at the same time, I understand what it takes to be an Olympian and a gay man and to do it at the same time. It’s an incredible gift. But you have to respect both sides. 

What other gay athletes might be at the Olympics?

There’s a gay speed skater from New Zealand, Blake Skjellerup. He has an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. Then there’s me. Then God knows.

I’m trying to think of a gay winter sport. Skiing?

Figure skating. I mean, at the end of the day, most winter Olympians are in front of the world dressed like sperm. Everyone is in super tight lycra. And that’s how we roll, gay, straight, it doesn’t matter. Sport.

What do you think should be done to guarantee the safety of gay athletes and their fans?

I think the most that we can hope for is that the Russian government suspends this law during the Olympics and takes a strong look at whether it wants to continue on with it in the future. I think the International Olympic Committee, while they’re not a political party, they need to be on the ground and have their own security measures, for my safety, for my family’s safety, and that’s what should happen. That’s what we can expect from any major sporting event. There has to be safety.

How do you feel about the Russian vodka boycott?

My opinion is that there could be LGBT people who work in the factories in Russia. There could be families that are supported by the vodka industry. For us to boycott vodka, it’s hurting the family more than it’s hurting the money people that are in charge.

Did you see what Michael Lucas wrote about you?

I didn’t actually, but I know a lot of my fans were upset by what he’d written.

I think he called you over the top.

I am over the top.

In a negative way.

I’ve grown up being criticized for everything about myself, so whether it comes from Michael Lucas or Obama or Putin, I’ve grown up with it and I understand how to live my life happily without pleasing anyone else.

So you have no desire to read it.

No, if I spend any time reading all the bad press about me I wouldn’t go out of the house.

How’s married life? 

Two years in almost, and we’re still doing good. My puppy’s great. He’s like our kid. I constantly Instagram about him. But my life is good.

Any plans for real children?

Down the line, we’ll have a real child. Not right now. We’re still establishing ourselves as men.