Being out in spotlight ‘all becomes worth it’ PYEONGCHANG 2018
Radford rst openly gay man to win Olympic gold
Among the messages Eric Radford has received at the Pyeongchang Olympics is one from a mother from his tiny hometown of Balmertown, Ont.
“She told me her daughter had come out to her, and she wanted to thank me for setting a great example,’’ Radford said.
The pairs figure skater became the first openly gay man to win Olympic gold in Monday’s team event. And if he’s ever questioned his decision to come out after Sochi, it’s those raw and honest messages that make Radford proud.
“I have had some really touching messages from people who are still in the closet, and they said that I’ve really inspired them, and helped them to try to accept themselves more ... that’s incredible,’’ Radford said.
“I look at my own story. When I was a kid in a small town growing up, figure skater, hockey town, it sucked. It was hard. And not only not being accepted by other people, but there was a long time where I didn’t accept myself. And I think that I just look at that, and if I had someone like that to look up to it would have been easier. And that’s what I want to be to other people.”
Radford and pairs partner Meagan Duhamel skated to a bronze medal in the free program Thursday.
Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury came out six years after winning gold at the ’92 Barcelona Olympics and subsequently lost a lucrative motivational speaking contract.
“I guess for me it’s a great perspective-giver,’’ Tewksbury said of Radford’s gold. “Sometimes in my life I might look back and think ‘Oh, I wish I was braver. I wish I could have come out when I won.’ And now I’m like, ‘Oh, I would have been 26 years ahead of myself.’ No wonder I didn’t. I would have been too far out of sync with time and the collective consciousness, and where society was at.
“For me, it is really cool that this has happened. It is a marker in time.’’
According to Outsports, there are 14 openly gay athletes in Pyeongchang — seven more than four years ago in Sochi.
“There are so many moments in life, or especially in an athlete’s life, where you’re wondering if it’s all worth it. And then you step up onto the podium and you’re like, yes. Yes, it was,’’ Radford said. “All the time away from home, crying on the phone to my parents, dealing with the bullying, it all becomes worth it.
“It’s nice to know that it does all become worth it.’’
Growing up, igure skater, hockey town, it sucked. It was hard.
Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel won a bronze medal in the pairs free skate on Thursday.