29-year-old Olympic skater-turned-commentator Johnny Weir may not be protesting Russia’s anti-LGBT laws during the Sochi games, but his willingness to stay true to himself — while sporting some of the most chic, brazen, flawless looks the games have ever seen — is a mini-rebellion of its own. And we love him for it.
Openly gay skating analyst Johnny Weir drew the ire of some members of the LGBT community when he refused to boycott the Winter Olympic games, but his Hunger Games inspired Sochi couture — combined with his spot-on commentary and refusal to do anything but his job — has proven to be the perfect way to “stick it” to Vladimir Putin and his oppressive regime.
Johnny Weir’s Olympic Fashion: The Perfect Pro-Gay Putin Rebellion
To be fair, Johnny absolutely should not have called the people boycotting the Olympic games “idiots” — because the only idiots on board here are the ones behind the Russian law that prohibits gay people from being near children. It’s absurd. But Johnny is a former Olympic skater and current figure skating commentator, so his decision to choose to continue to do his freaking job despite facing the threat of jail time and even physical violence is an admirable one.
“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. “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.”
Basically, instead of shrinking away from his many hateful Russian dissenters, Johnny decided to show up and be the best himself he could possibly be. And Johnny has absolutely respected the country he’s visiting — but on his own terms. He’s been perfectly adroit and professional when it comes to his on-air performance, all the while refusing to ditch the flamboyant threads that he loves.
“I decided to go more of Stanley Tucci’s character from The Hunger Games,” Johnny told Philadelphia Magazine. “I’m trying to stay between the lines of Johnny on Skating with the Stars and the rest of the NBC men’s family in Brooks Brothers.”
So even though Johnny isn’t protesting the Olympics, he’s absolutely making a statement — “I’m here, I’m queer, I look fabulous in vintage Chanel, get used to it.” Is Putin (not to mention the millions of Russians who support the law) happy about Johnny’s sartorial choices? Probably not, but I’m no mind reader. But what’s he going to do about it? Arrest Johnny for wearing leggings? It’s easy to punish and condemn violent or “troublesome” protesters, so sometimes the best way to make a statement is to just bravely be who you are, despite the madness that’s going on around you. I’m not saying that active protesting is never the best choice, but in this case, Johnny — and Elton — made the right choice.
“I’m not trying to be funny here, but Elton John got in and out of Russia for a performance recently,” Johnny told Philly Mag. “And he dedicated his entire concert, very bravely, to a young gay man in Russia who lost his life recently by a beating. So I think the problem here is more what’s going to happen to the Russian community [than to me].”
In a nutshell, Johnny knows all too well that the hatred and violence toward gays in Russia is a major problem. But maybe — just maybe — his decision to stick to his guns will prove to be one small step in a positive direction.
What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Do you applaud Johnny’s decision to be himself despite Russia’s anti-gay laws? Do you think he should have joined active protests instead? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
— Shaunna Murphy