Never a fan of labels, Johnny Weir is giving himself one: He’s gay.
The figure skater comes out in his new book, “Welcome to My World,” but said in an excerpt published in the Jan. 17 issue of People magazine that being gay “is the smallest part of what makes me me.”
“I’m not ashamed to be me,” Weir wrote. “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.”
Weir’s autobiography will be released Tuesday. He starts a book tour in New York the same day.
The three-time U.S. champion is one of skating’s most colorful, oversized and popular personalities, and he enjoys challenging convention. He once posed for a photo shoot in a skirt and stilettos, and was targeted by animal-rights activists after adding white fox fur to one of costumes at last year’s U.S. championships.
But he repeatedly avoided questions about his sexual orientation, saying he didn’t want to be defined by labels. After broadcasters on French-language RDS made derogatory comments about Weir’s masculinity during last year’s Vancouver Olympics, the skater again refused to answer the question, saying he wanted people to see him “for who I am, not what I am.”
“All the gay websites couldn’t figure out why I was such a jerk that I wouldn’t talk about it,” Weir wrote. “But pressure is the last thing that would make me want to ‘join’ a community. … The massive backlash against me in the gay media and community only made me dig my ‘closeted’ heels in further.”
Asked why he decided to come out now, Weir told People he never felt he was in the closet. His parents have always supported him, and his sexual orientation is “not an issue” with his family. But Weir knows that isn’t the case for everyone, particularly teenagers.
“With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story,” Weir told People.
In his book, Weir said he realized “there was something different about me” as a 6-year-old when he watched “Pretty Woman” and was attracted to Richard Gere. He writes about being picked on by students in middle school after he started skating, and finding a haven at the ice rink.
“By puberty, I knew that I was gay,” he wrote. “But I didn’t worry about it much. As a serious skater, I was way too busy.”
Weir, who is currently in Russia, is taking the year off from competition. But he hasn’t ruled out returning in hopes of making a run at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
from The Associated Press
Archive for January 6th, 2011
Never a fan of labels, Johnny Weir is giving himself one: He’s gay.
PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA - Palm Springs police Chief David Dominguez announced on Wednesday that he will retire from his post, following intense public criticism over how his department handled a controversial public sex sting operation in the Warm Sands neighborhood.
Dominguez leaves the department after three years as chief. His contract went into effect Dec. 15, 2007, and he was sworn in two months later.
“After careful consideration of the recent debates surrounding the Warm Sands Law Enforcement Operation, I believe this decision is in the best interest of my family, my health, the department and the city,” Dominguez said Wednesday.
His retirement comes after more than a year of scrutiny into actions by police personnel during a 2009 investigation into alleged public sex acts between men in the Warm Sands neighborhood.
“With all the debate going on regarding the Warm Sands operation, I felt it was the right time for me,” Dominguez told The Desert Sun.
Nineteen men were arrested on charges of public sex crimes and lewd acts as the result of the June 2009 sting.
The arrestees are charged under California Penal Code 314, which would require them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives on a list visible only to law enforcement officers.
Court testimony in these cases revealed that an undercover officer was caught on tape uttering a gay slur during the sting, prompting the city to conduct department-wide sensitivity training.
Then last week, following the city’s internal review of police procedure during that undercover operation, Dominguez also was named among those accused of making offensive remarks.
The chief publicly apologized for what he said was an “inappropriate comment” and it was thought that he would keep his job.
That changed on Wednesday.
“I think this is the honorable thing for him to do for Palm Springs,” said resident Thomas Van Etten, a member of the police Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Outreach Committee who has criticized police during the sting.
Dominguez said it will be hard to leave the department in the midst of the Warm Sands controversy.
“My heart is heavy because I’m leaving the men and women at that organization who are so committed to making the community safe,” he said. “But then again I’m moving on to the next phase in my life … and will be spending more time with my family, which is the most important thing to me.”
“The negativity that came out of some people, we just couldn’t understand it,” Dominguez added. “My family couldn’t understand, and I still don’t understand.”
Though a specific date for Dominguez’s retirement has not been disclosed, the 55-year-old chief is expected to step down in the next two weeks, City Manager David Ready said.
“I’m pleased the chief put the city — the health of the city, the good of the city — ahead of his own personal interests,” Mayor Pro Tem Lee Weigel said. “I think he did the right thing, and because of that I think the city has an opportunity to move ahead with the other important business it has to do.”
Councilman Rick Hutcheson added “at this point we have to go forward and learn the lessons that are to be learned from this.”
“I certainly appreciate his time here; the programs he instigated — and I want to thank him for his time,” Councilman Chris Mills said.
Dominguez’s final annual salary was $178,896, said Perry Madison, the city’s human resources director.
According to his contract, because Dominguez voluntarily retired, he is not eligible to receive his five-month severance, which would have totaled to about $85,000.
“Sometimes in life there are mistakes that cannot be fixed, and it’s a sign of maturity for someone to acknowledge that they may have made one of those mistakes,” said resident Robert Stone of Dominguez’s retirement.
Stone, who is one of the founding members of the Warm Sands Neighborhood Organization and a Warm Sands Advisory Committee member, told The Desert Sun on Dec. 31 that Dominguez had been “less than truthful” with the advisory committee since the sex sting.
On Wednesday, however, Stone wished the chief well.
“I know this last year has been very difficult for him and the police department,” Stone said. “I hope this is the beginning of a new chapter in his life.”
Dominguez said he plans to stay in the Coachella Valley with his family and does not plan to go back into law enforcement in any capacity.
A 31-year veteran of law enforcement, Dominguez said will not look back at his career in vain.“I’m not going to let this one incident define the service I’ve given to the many communities I’ve worked for,” he said. “I think the public has lost focus on why we were out there, but I believe the law abiding citizens of Palm Springs don’t want lewd conduct in public — gay straight or whoever. It’s against the law and we were responding to a complaint of that going on.”
Staff at the Palm Springs police station were shocked by the announcement on Wednesday, said Officer William Hutchinson, who is president of the Palm Springs Police Officers Association.
“We didn’t expect this to happen,” Hutchinson said. “We didn’t expect the city to go this way, especially when just a few days ago they said they back the chief. They completed their investigation, but now here’s this surprise retirement.”
With that said, however, Hutchinson said the police association understands the chief’s decision.
“It’s shocking and unexpected, but we respect his decision and support it. Family comes first,” said police association board member Det. Mike Villegas.
One common sentiment among the officers is that the department is moving forward undaunted by the Dominguez’s decision.
“We’ve just got to stick together in this,” Officer Anthony Pilutik said of the chief’s retirement and the controversy.
Lt. Dennis Graham agreed and said he believes the department will overcome it all soon.
“We’re going to move on and do a great job at it,” Graham said.
During Wednesday’s City Council meeting, the council unanimously authorized Ready to form a Chief Recruitment Selection Committee — which will include citizens — to begin an immediate search for a new police chief.
Mayor Steve Pougnet will chair the City Council subcommittee, which also will help in the selection of the city’s new police chief.
The council also authorized the city to contract with an executive recruitment firm. Ready plans to begin seeking out a firm Thursday and expects the contract to cost about $20,000 to $30,000.
In the meantime, Capt. Al Franz will serve as interim chief of police. Franz has been with the Palm Springs Police Department since 1987.
Some on the council said they regret that for some, the apology isn’t enough.
“During the recent Warm Sands area police operation it quickly became apparent that mistakes were made which have been acknowledged and addressed decisively by the council and the city manager,” Councilwoman Ginny Foat said in a statement. “However, I also recognize that for some people there is no apology, no investigation, no corrective action, no outreach, nothing that will ever be enough to make things right.”
The mayor sounded an optimistic tone toward the future.
“The council has strongly supported many positive steps taken to help expand and improve relations with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered community, including the creation of the Gay and Lesbian Advisory Group in 2001,” Pougnet said in a statement.
“We must now redouble our efforts to promote and improve relations with the LGBT community and all of our diverse communities. Only genuine demonstrations of respect, openness, and participation will build understanding, trust and acceptance over time.”
And while Pougnet said he knows “there remains much work to be done,” he and his fellow council members believe the city can recover from this.
“While we are not perfect and mistakes have been made, we cannot and will not allow those mistakes to overshadow all that is good and right with our city,” Foat said. “Our focus now must be on demonstrating that we mean what we say about embracing our diverse communities.”
from The Desert Sun
The people have spoken, and their Favorite TV Comedy Actor award goes to Neil Patrick Harris for his work on How I Met Your Mother. Kate Walsh and Taye Diggs presented NPH with this People’s Choice Award, his first since winning for what he called “The Doogie Howser Comedy Hour” back in 1990.
Prior to walking up onstage, Neil Patrick Harris kissed his partner David Burtka on the cheek. During his acceptance speech, he thanked Burke for being supportive and such a good father to their twins Gideon and Harper.
Other nominees for Favorite Comedy Actor at the 2011 People’s Choice Awards were Alec Baldwin, Steve Carrell, Matthew Morrison and Jim Parsons. How I Met Your Mother was also nominated for Favorite TV Comedy but lost to Glee.
Neil Patrick Harris And David Burtka Both Sperm Donors
Neil Patrick Harris Is A Daddy With Twins
Neil Patrick Harris On Bullying Gays
This fall, when an 18-year-old Rutgers student killed himself after a live video showing him having intimate relations with another young man was transmitted on the Internet, public attention once again focused on the risk of suicide among gay teenagers.
That risk is hard to measure, in part because so much research has focused on clinical populations — people who sought help or acted out because they were troubled, had attempted suicide or professed suicidal tendencies. That tends to skew the results, suggesting that gay teenagers on average are more prone to suicide and mental illness than they really are.
The good news is that recent research finds more similarities than differences among gay and straight adolescents. For example, studies in Salt Lake City by Lisa Diamond, an associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, found that young gays had as many friends and were just as popular and socially connected as other teenagers.
The composition of their friendships is somewhat different, she noted. Gay teenagers tend to go out of their way to befriend youths of other races or those who are stigmatized for their looks.
But for gay and straight teenagers alike, Dr. Diamond said in an interview, the chief source of stress is the same: “anxiety about being alone as an adult, about finding the kind of partner they want.”
Studies do suggest that severe emotional distress is somewhat more common among gay teenagers than straight ones. But Dr. Diamond and other experts say the effects of bullying and discrimination are often overplayed in the news media.
“I’m concerned about the message being given to gay youth by adults who say they are destined to be depressed, abuse drugs or perhaps commit suicide,” Ritch C. Savin-Williams, a professor of developmental psychology who is director of Cornell’s Sex and Gender Lab, said at a recent news briefing. “I believe the message may create more suicides, more depression and more substance abuse. I worry about suicide contagion. About 10 to 15 percent are fragile gay kids, and they’re susceptible to messages of gay-youth suicide.”
In an interview, Dr. Savin-Williams said: “We hear only the negative aspects from research. We don’t hear about normal gay teens. It’s hard to get studies published when researchers don’t find differences. A large number of studies found no group differences between gay and straight youth, but these have not been published.”
In his book “The New Gay Teenager”, Dr. Savin-Williams noted that it is much easier to get grants to study clinical problems and treatment; only recently have the lives of gay teenagers in the general nonclinical population begun to be studied by developmental psychologists.
These later studies find that straight youths are just as much at risk of being bullied if they exhibit atypical behavior, he said. Bullies react to nonconformity, and they pick up on people’s weaknesses.
“Bullying is less about sexuality than about gender nonconformity,” Dr. Savin-Williams said. “There are straight youth who are gender-atypical and they suffer as much as gay kids. But whether there’s a direct link between bullying and suicide among gay teens has not been shown.”
Rather, recent studies show that the risk factors for suicide are identical for gay and straight youth. These, Dr. Savin-Williams said, include “prior mental illness, depression, bipolar disorder, dysfunctional families, breakups in relationships, suicide in the family and access to means.”
Still, there are also clear signs of continued stress on gay teenagers. A national study of more than 15,000 middle and high school students published last month in Pediatrics found that gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers were more likely to be harshly punished by schools and courts than their straight peers.
“The negative message that gay teens get — just survive your adolescence and life will get better — is a disservice,” Dr. Savin-Williams said. “The message should be that your life can be good right now.
“Many gay youth have excellent, productive, happy lives. When asked, gay youth can come up with a very long list of positive attributes — they’re more artistic, creative, resilient and sensitive to the needs of others. They say they don’t have to be the most popular.”
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a national organization established in 1990 to improve school safety for all students, is an important force in fostering acceptance and countering negative images, discrimination and bullying directed at gay teenagers. The network maintains a registry of Gay-Straight Alliances, student clubs that, as of 2008, have been established in 4,000 schools around the country. The first such alliance was proposed by a straight student who wanted to curb bullying and harassment of fellow students who were gay.
Gay teenagers most at risk for serious emotional distress are those whose families have rejected them, Dr. Diamond said. “There’s nothing harmful about keeping their same-sex attraction a secret for a while” if they think their parents will respond badly, she went on. “Often parents are better able to deal with this information when the kids are older.”
Her advice to parents: “Continue to express affection for your kids despite your own feelings about homosexuality. Let them know they are loved and accepted. Hug them, spend time with them, watch movies together.”
Moreover, she continued, parents and teachers often mistake a youngster’s underlying intent in seeking a partner. “They want to find a boyfriend, someone to love,” she said of gay adolescent boys. “These are not sexual concerns, they’re relationship concerns — and they are just as common among heterosexual as homosexual youths. They are classic adolescent worries.
“Adults should take a deep breath and answer their questions, saying something like, ‘I’m sure you’ll find someone who will love and appreciate you.’ ”
As for suicide, Dr. Diamond said: “What most commonly precipitates suicide attempts in both heterosexual and homosexual adolescents is being dumped by a romantic partner. Kids who lose someone they cared about need to be listened to in a sensitive way, offered support and comfort, and reassured that this is not their only chance of finding love.”
from The New York Times