Monday, February 25, 2013

"If I Could Be Anyone in the World, I Would Be Johnny Weir"

Johnny accepts the first annual
"Johnny Weir WinterPride Award" 
on the ice at the Penns Landing Rink during 
Philadelphia's WinterPride celebration last Friday 
(yes, the award is actually named after him). 

More than 15 years ago, a young Pennsylvania boy laced up a pair of ice skates and taught himself how to glide among the remains of cornstalks on the frozen Amish-country fields behind his house.

On Friday—three national titles, two Olympics, and one World medal later—he returned home to be honored with the very first "Johnny Weir WinterPride Award," presented by the Office of the Mayor on behalf of the City of Philadelphia.

Along the way to those career honors, he also garnered a bit of attention for being... himself, including becoming one of the first openly gay competitive skaters, and marrying in 2011 after New York enacted marriage equality.

The award reads in part:

Philly Pride... is honored to welcome LGBT leader and champion figure skater, Johnny Weir. ... Johnny Weir has led a commanding athletic and artistic career on ice. ... Johnny also lends his voice and prominence to a range of philanthropic and charitable organizations... and is an advocate for many more worthy endeavors and causes. ... [W]ith this Tribute, [we] commend him for his standing as a national role model and for the pride that he embodies.

Love. It.

And so that's the officialdom part of the story.

Now for the more personal part.

As WinterPride was happening on Friday night, I was checking in on Twitter now and then, and retweeting pics that popped up as Johnny mingled with the crowd at the rink.

And then on Saturday morning this must-read Tumblr post came across my Twitter feed, which I totally loved and retweeted, and then I got a tweet from the author, Ashley, asking if she could email me. (BTW don't miss Ashley's WinterPride gifsets of Johnny here and here.)

This is what she wrote:

I just wanted to say thank you. I don't know many people who are fans of Johnny Weir, and I think I spend a lot of time admiring your enthusiasm. I also don't think I would have approached him last night... if I didn't know who you were. I don't know why... I just feel that way, and I thought of you after I met him. ... I love your blog! I love all the photos.

Which was just the loveliest gift after a less-than-stellar week.

So we wrote back and forth awhile, and she mentioned that she wished she'd explained more in her post about her own life and why Johnny is such a huge personal inspiration.

Ashley was born a woman, but began having "I-want-to-be-a-boy" thoughts at about age five or six. She came to an awareness of herself as transgender about four years ago, and has been considering the journey of transitioning to a man.

So I invited her to share her story here, and she accepted.

And here it is, in the form of an achingly beautiful open letter to Johnny.

Dear Johnny,

Shouting from the closet can be exhausting, yet here I am. I’ve fortified the walls to keep me safe, to keep myself hidden, and I write this openly because I don’t have a sledgehammer. It’s been a while since I’ve told this story, and there’s a part of me that wonders if I’ve ever told it. All of it? Probably not. I’m stuck, I’m not sure where to begin, and I’m afraid.

I don’t remember the first time I watched you skate, but I remember the first time I realized it was more than beautiful choreography and a dream I never chased. Did you really have to skate to “Poker Face”? I was suddenly uncomfortable—not with you or your routine, but with myself, with the hard lines of “masculine” and “feminine” and “male” and “female” that I was trying to force myself to observe. You aren’t made of those hard lines, you never were, and the realization that you were okay with that made me uncomfortable.

I’m transgender. Even now, after two years of trying to embrace it, six months of my mother denying it (and eventually forgetting I ever told her), and two years of pretending that “woman” describes me perfectly, it took a while to type. I’m not made of those hard lines, either… and after “Poker Face” (after the 2010 Olympic season, after your routines continued to be defiant, after you came out), I realized that was okay. I’m not a freak. What the world thinks of me is of little consequence in the scheme of things.

I once said to a friend, “If I could be anyone in the world, I would be Johnny Weir,” because whenever I dabble in the idea of transitioning, you’re the kind of man—the kind of human being—I’d want to model myself after. Every day, you’re an inspiration to me. What you said at WinterPride struck me as hard as your choreography once did: “Be free, be happy, be lovely, be strong—and sparkle.” I won’t forget it. I won’t forget that night, because I’ve been made braver by it.

I write this openly because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from you, it’s this: the world can either love and accept me, or get lost. What happens next (for me) won’t be easy or painless, but in part thanks to you, I’ll always love myself regardless.

Я говорю русски плохо, но спасибо и я тебя люблю.
(I speak Russian poorly, but thank you and I love you.)


Dear Ashley and Johnny, thank you both for being exactly everything that pride is all about.

Exclusive! Ashley's video of Johnny 
giving his brief speech after accepting his award: 
"Thank you. I'm not good at yelling, but I love you all, 
and I wish you a very happy and freezing cold WinterPride, 
and enjoy yourselves. Be free, be happy, 
be lovely, be strong—and sparkle."

Two of my favorite tweets from WinterPride.

The award.

Photo tweeted by @G_Philly: 
"Johnny Weir (far right) rocking his skinny jeans 
at Winter #Pride. Photo courtesy of Christopher Brucks."

Photo tweeted by @G_Philly: 
"Friend of G Philly Eric Manas sent this photo 
of him at Winter Pride with Johnny Weir. Cute!"

Photo tweeted by @seanivanovich: 
"My best friend Johnny Weir, 
2 time Olympian, 
full time diva"

Photo posted to Johnny's Facebook fan page 
by Jen Warfield.

More video!! Johnny performing at WinterPride.
Video link.

Brief local news report on WinterPride. 
Video link.

NEW!! Johnny will be a guest 
on Kathy Griffin's live talk show 
this Thursday, February 28, 
 at 10 pm EST / 9 pm CST on Bravo! 
Set those DVRs now!!

UPDATE: Kathy tweeted today that her show 
is moving to late night, so this episode 
will be seen at 11:30 pm EST / 10:30 CST.

ICYMI: "Something Beautiful." 
Exclusive new photos © David Ingogly.

Patti has posted a new message 
on Johnny's Comeback Gift Fund website, 
with her thoughts on 2013 Nationals 
and what lies ahead for next season. 
Please go read it now!

A number of Johnny's auction items have been relisted
which means if you missed out the first time around, 
you're in luck: It's not too late to own a piece of Weir Gear! 
Go check it out and see what treasures you could take home!

Johnny's latest column for the 
Falls Church News-Press.
His columns are published every Thursday 
in the "National Commentary
section—don't miss a single one! 

NEW in the Team Weir-Voronov fan store:
Johnny buttons!! 
Click this link to buy yours now!
Japanese fans: Please use this link.

Johnny keychains!! 
Click this link to add some sparkle to your keys!
Japanese fans: Please use this link.

"A Mighty Dream" calendars for 2013, 
in both 12-month and 18-month designs! 
Order yours today! All proceeds from the fan store 
are donated to Johnny's Comeback Gift Fund
administered by the lovely Patti Weir.

Please alert absolutely everyone you've ever met 
to "like" and follow the new 
on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr
Because he should be on all the things. 
With or without ice. 
But definitely with Viacheslav.

Yep, I'm still promoting this silly poll
in which you can vote at least once a day. 
Please vote for Johnny!!

Need to see Season 2 all over again? 
Watch episodes online anytime on Logo!
Please be sure to check in with GetGlue
anytime you're watching the show... 
or thinking about watching the show.... 
or wishing you were watching the show....

Landing quads and kicking ass!
Read his comeback statement 
and the update on his website!

Yes, YOU can be a part of Johnny's comeback!  
Please visit Johnny's Comeback Gift Fund today 
and chip in as little as $1 via PayPal. 
Our small gifts can help make his dream of competing 
in his third Olympic Games come true!
And now you can leave a message 
of support for Johnny, too!

Please click to vote for Johnny 
once a day as "Best Sportsman"
Because he retweeted Luisa Lotka to tell us 
he wants us to! (Note: With his "58.132" rating, 
he is currently in 1st place in both 
Figure Skating AND across all sports!)

Q and A! Go read it now!

Yes! Johnny's dresses are now available
for purchase only on!

At last: Pop Star On Ice is now available on DVD!
Order yours today from the Pop Star On Ice website!

Johnny tweeted:
"Buy my single,'Dirty Love' via iTunes.
Tell all your friends to as well. The more copies sold
takes me one step closer to making a video! №1!"

You know what to do.
Please buy the song from Johnny's website,
or just click the "Buy" button on the player
at the top of the blog!

Hey, Welcome to My World also is available
as an eBook! More info on Johnny's website!

copyright 2013 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


jenn said...

Ashley, thank you so much for sharing your story. I can't imagine what it's like to put it out there so publicly. Please know that for all the pain and misunderstanding out there, there's also a world of love waiting for you. Thank you again for your bravery. Every voice matters.

aaaack said...

Thank you, Johnny, for your courage and surefootedness on the ice and off. Thank you to those conferring the Award for fighting a good fight and making LGBT status as normal and acceptable as everyone else's.

Thank you for the courage of writing the letter and may you be able to live the good, open life you dream of. Be patient and have faith, and everyone please keep up this good fight for acceptance.

Thanks, Binky, as always, for your kind, moving and apt words.

LauraL said...

The full moon shone beautifully towards the end of the bus trip. In fact, I think it was brighter I've ever seen it before. Not surprisingly, it made me think of Johnny and Ash. Johnny because I happen to know that in his birth chart, the moon is in virgo, where the moon now is. It's easy remember...the full moon is always in the opposite sign of the current sun sign. It's pisces' time of the year. Ash's letter to Johnny made me almost cry. I can't speak on behalf of Johnny, but I think when Johnny reads it, it has a huge impact on him. As we all know, he is associated with the Trevor project. Which is exactly why I think he'll be very touched with Ash's story. I wish her all the best and strenght with her endeavour.

Oh, I almost forgot to say one thing. I think Ashley was and is very brave, in so many ways. I would not dare to go talk to Johnny just like that, because I am shy, but she did, and if I understood correctly, because of Misfit Mimes and of her blog. Binky, You just beam your vitality to everyone who are somehow associated with you. That is amazing. Thank you.:) And sorry for any grammatical mistakes etc. If wish I could write perfect English but I can't.