Watching figure skating is nearly impossible in our household due to shouted “Boring!” objections from the 6- and 8-year-olds (What do they love? Luge crashes, bobsled flip-overs, skiing yard sales, etc.). Eventually they go to sleep, however, and it is time for 15 minutes of replays from the rink. American sensation Nathan Chen was in the news even before the Olympics. “Straight figure skater offers sincere apology after saying it’s a ‘homosexual-dominated sport’” (Pink News, July 31, 2021):
Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen has apologised after giving an “ignorant” remark about the sport being “homosexual-dominated”.
In a video statement released on Tuesday (27 July), he acknowledged that he gave an “ignorant” response on a podcast in answer to a question about patriarchal stereotypes in skating.
Asked whether he’s ever been advised to play hockey because it’s more “masculine,” Chen replied: “Yes, certainly. Especially as a male athlete… as a straight male athlete in a fairly homosexual-dominated sport, or LGBTQ-dominated sport.
“I think that there is that connotation and there is that ‘Well we don’t really wanna watch guys skate around’, and we’d rather watch hockey or we’d rather watch females do that, which I think is pretty messed up in itself,” he continued.
“It’s a genuine sport, we spend our whole lives trying to hone this craft, and to just sort of be belittled like that is not something that is generally taken lightly.”
The clumsy comment saw Chen accused of perpetuating standards of toxic masculinity and homophobia.
“Basically Nathan Chen had the opportunity to use his in-sport privilege to: support queer athletes as an ally, talk about how figure skating is for everyone, discuss the types of expression rewarded at competition,” commented the non-binary figure skater Racheline Maltese.
“Instead he: told us he was straight, equated feminine with queer and implied they were both negative, implied he is oppressed by queerness in the sport.
So… the tabloids follow this famous person around and haven’t seen him with one or more girlfriends. He describes himself as “straight”. What music does he select for his program? I was expecting perhaps Ice Cube, Kanye West, or DaBaby. Instead it was… Elton John.
- a thoughtful exploration of gender roles in figure skating (now more timely than ever; excerpt)