Johnny Weir, a former Olympic figure skater who gained global attention over the flamboyant attire he wore during the Winter Olympics, might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
As a commentator for NBC, he was often seen on air wearing outrageous costumes, intense makeup and elaborate hair accessories.
At Gawker, an entire feature, “Weir Watch,” was dedicated to keeping readers updated on his appearances.
But by far the most intense reaction to Weir comes from Quin Hillyer, a writer for the conservative National Review and a failed Republican candidate for the U.S. House.
[Weir's] antics are appalling. The problem is not that he’s homosexual; it’s that he advertises his sexuality to the extent that it makes him (his choice of makeup, jewelry, and extravagant dresses or furs) more of a story than the athletes he is supposed to cover. …
Frankly, male figure skaters should be mighty irked with Weir for validating the image of their sport as one populated by effeminate men. And gay men should be equally annoyed that Weir furthers the stereotype that male homosexuals are flamingly feminine.
We’ve requested comment from Hillyer as to whether he thinks Weir’s choice of dress has cast shame on figure skating as a sport. We’ll update if he responds.
Update: Hillyer got back to us in a phone call shortly after this post published.
Taking a minute to clean up some chocolate he had just eaten off his hands, he told TheBlaze Blog that “shame” isn’t the word he would use to characterize Weir’s effect on figure skating’s perception.
“I think figure skating battles a perception that it’s not a manly sport,” he said. “Because it’s all about grace and style. And I think if I were a figure skater, I would want the focus to be on my athleticism. And if you’ve got somebody– I mean, who cares if he’s homosexual? The question is, by dressing as a woman and bringing that image of femininity to the sport, does that feed the image of it as somehow less than a fete of athleticism?”
Hillyer said he recalled Weir on NBC’s “Today,” commenting on the rouge he was wearing. “And it was all about him. And that to me is unprofessional,” he said. “And he went out of his way to emphasize, in my mind, that ‘Hey, look at me, I can be gay on TV, isn’t it great?’”
Asked if he thought Weir’s makeup and dress were about calling attention to Weir’s sex life, Hillyer said: “Yes, I do.”