Johnny Weir is hitting back at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists angered by his stance on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The U.S. figure skater, who is openly gay and known for his extravagant performances on the ice, is set to join NBC Sports as a commentator at the Olympic games in February. Still, Weir's decision has upset many LGBT rights advocates who feel he should refrain from traveling to Russia in the wake of the nation's controversial "gay propaganda" legislation.
When Queer Nation demonstrators picketed outside his Dec. 2 talk at Barnard College, Weir spoke of “idiots like the ones outside tonight, dumping vodka in the street,” according to Gay City News.
"They say all these stupid things,” he told the audience of about 40 Barnard students, according to the publication. “I never supported the [Russian] government. I supported the people.”
Of Russia's beleaguered LGBT community, he stated, “I know their lives are not like mine. It’s difficult to come out as gay in Russia. I didn’t think the law was changing so much.”
You can read the full Gay City News article here.
Meanwhile, Queer Nation member Duncan Osborne called Weir's NBC appointment part of a "disinformation campaign" on NBC's part in regard to Russia's stance on the LGBT community.
“NBC has had the openly gay Johnny Weir, a former figure skater, and Thomas Roberts, the openly gay MSNBC anchor, make public comments that suggest that Russia’s anti-gay laws are not harming LGBT Russians,” Osborne is quoted as saying. “But those laws have led to the arrest and imprisonment of LGBT Russians, and have resulted in de facto state-sanctioned beatings, torture, rape, and murder of Russian lesbians and gay men. NBC should stop deceiving the public and tell the truth.”
Weir has frequently spoken of his love of Russian culture, while his husband, Victor Weir-Vornov, is of Russian descent. Still, he's been consistently on the defense since his earlier refusal to support a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics after Russia passed its anti-gay laws earlier this year.
"I risk jail time just going there, but the Olympics are not the place to make a political statement,” he told The New York Times' Juliet Macur in October. “I’m not a politician and I don’t really talk about politics. You don’t have to agree with the politics, but you have to respect the culture of a country you are visiting.”
In a July 25 Op-Ed for the Falls Church News-Press, Weir warned that those hurt most by a potential Olympic boycott would be the athletes who have "dedicated their lives to possibly having their lone life-changing moment."
"I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights or lack thereof," he wrote at the time. "I beg the gay athletes not to forget their missions and fight for a chance to dazzle the world."
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The Russian dance legend and actor ("Sex and the City") sounded off on the controversial legislation in an exclusive statement for the No More Fear Foundation, an international LGBT advocacy organization. "My life has been immensely enriched by gay mentors, colleagues and friends and any discrimination and persecution of gay people is unacceptable," Baryshnikov, 65, said. "Equal treatment of people is a basic right and it is sad that we still have to even speak about this in [the] 21st century." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/mikhail-baryshnikov-russia-gay-law-_n_4100754.html" target="_blank">Read the full story here</a>.
A photograph of the Academy Award-winning actress defending Russia's beleaguered lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by holding a rainbow flag in front of Moscow's Kremlin was released with the following statement via her spokesperson: "In solidarity. From Russia with love." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/05/tilda-swinton-rainbow-flag-russia-_n_3550360.html" target="_blank">Read the full story here</a>.
"The human rights stuff that's going on, there's a potential for it to be an incredibly negatively-overshadowed Olympics," the two-time gold medal winning snowboarder told the Associated Press. Of his gay friends in snowboarding, he noted, "They're wonderful human beings, and I think for them to be discriminated against is a crime." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/seth-wescott-russia-gay-law-_n_3913225.html" target="_blank">Read the full story here</a>.
The Material Girl sparked controversy when she spoke out in defense of Russia's LGBT community during a St. Petersburg stop on her MDNA World Tour last year. Performing in black lingerie with the words "No Fear" scrawled on her bare back, Madonna urged the audience -- most wearing pink wrist bands distributed at the door -- to "show your love and appreciation to the gay community." "We want to fight for the right to be free," she said at the time, Reuters reported. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/09/madonna-st-petersburg-russia-gay-rights_n_1762135.html" target="_blank">Click here for the full story</a>.
The U.S. figure skater (pictured on right, with husband Victor Voronov) has spoken out against a planned boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, warning that those hurt most would be the athletes who have "dedicated their lives to possibly having their lone life-changing moment." "The Olympics are not a political statement, they are a place to let the world shine in peace and let them marvel at their youthful talents," he wrote. "I respect the LGBT community full heartedly, but I implore the world not to boycott the Olympic Games because of Russia’s stance on LGBT rights or lack thereof." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/johnny-weir-russia-olympics-boycott-_n_3659423.html" target="_blank">Click here for the full story</a>. <em>CORRECTION: The original version of this slideshow misidentified Johnny Weir as Victor Voronov. </em>
"The Russian government is criminal," the Mother Monster tweeted in August. "Oppression will be met with revolution. Russian LGBTs you are not alone. We will fight for your freedom." She also noted: "Sending bravery to LGBTs in Russia. The rise in government abuse is archaic. Hosing teenagers with pepper spray? Beatings? Mother Russia?" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/05/lady-gaga-russia-lgbt_n_3708608.html" target="_blank">Click here for the full story</a>.
In spite of Russia's anti-gay legislation, the Rocket Man has vowed not to cancel his forthcoming Moscow performance. "As a gay man, I can’t leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them," he said. "I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve got to go." Read the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/elton-john-russia-gay-law-_n_3942870.html" target="_blank">full story here</a>.
The legendary singer-actress said she turned down the chance to perform at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi because of Russia's anti-gay law. "I can’t name names but my friend called who is a big oligarch over there, and asked me if I’d like to be an ambassador for the Olympics and open the show," Cher told Maclean's writer Elio Iannacci. "I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/13/cher-sochi-olympics-russia_n_3921419.html" target="_blank">Click here for the full story</a>.
The New Zealand speed skater, who is openly gay, told HuffPost Live's Josh Zepps that a boycott would hurt the athletes themselves more than Russia. "I don't support a boycott at all," he said. "I believe the greatest way to bring about change is to have a presence. Being present in Sochi is going to be greater for the cause than not being there at all." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/blake-skjellerup-russia_n_3689573.html" target="_blank">Click here for the full story</a>.
After winning a silver medal at the World Track & Field Championships in Moscow on Aug. 13, the American middle distance runner openly dedicated the victory to his gay and lesbian friends in his home country. The act reportedly makes Symmonds the first athlete to critique and oppose Russia's anti-gay legislation while in Russia. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/nick-symmonds-gays-russia_n_3755462.html" target="_blank">Click here for the full story</a>.
The Olympic diving champion rejected the possibility of a boycott against the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia in a Policymic editorial. "Boycotting sends the wrong message and will only harm the hard-working athletes set to compete in the 2014 Olympics, not the Russian government itself," he wrote. "I know from personal experience. My first Olympics I won Silver at age 16, and then in 1980, at the height of my diving career, President Jimmy Carter opted to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow as a method of protesting the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. The toll on fellow athletes and me was devastating." <a href="http://www.policymic.com/articles/58481/i-m-an-openly-gay-gold-medalist-and-i-reject-the-sochi-olympics-boycott" target="_blank">Click here for the full story</a>.