Sporty Queers series: Timothy Leduc

T-minus five weeks until our lakes match this one – who’s ready? Weston Mackinnon via Unsplash

Gay, nonbinary, and a potential Olympian? Please tell me more…

Timothy Leduc, an openly gay figure skater from the United States, has paved the way of excellence in sport, and resiliency in the world sports web. LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble compete in pairs figure skating through thick and thin. Both still compete at international figure skating events and are a pair to keep an eye on both on the ice and through activism in 2SLGBTQ+ rights.

LeDuc first revealed that they knew they were gay as a child, reading a book about figure skating. Being a young child in a hetero-normative atmosphere can lead to large amounts of anxiety when you do not have anyone who you feel you can talk to about your feelings. LeDuc states they typically felt this way as a child and wanted to be seen as a visible gay role model to help kids feel a greater acceptance, and to realize that their sexuality is valid.

Many conversations about labelling athletes by their sexuality, gender, or race can individualize them and separate characteristics from the athletes themselves. In an interview with the Human Rights Campaign, Leduc was asked by fans why they want to be known as a queer figure skater, and said it was because they want a platform to acknowledge that their participation in sport is an example of queer excellence.

Leduc’s performance on the ice with partner Cain-Gribble is one of the best representations of queer excellence. The two not only represent success, but also resilience in the face of adversity. The partners have been labelled the “tall” pair on the ice, as Cain-Gribble is taller than the typical female pair skater. Furthermore, the pair took a break in 2014 from being burnt out with the sport, only to reconvene years later to train again in 2017. They began making headlines in 2018, shining in competitions in Asia and the United States, then becoming Olympic alternates finishing fourth at Nationals that year.

In 2019, Leduc and Cain-Gribble won the U.S. pairs championship, giving fight to their fire and making them spotlight competitors for the next Olympics. The next year, they represented the U.S in the World Championship in Montreal. While the pair stumbled placing third in their short program, they ended up in fourth place at the end of the competition. The pair has slowly been creeping up the ladder with new advances every year, making them side-eyed competition for the United States.

Figure skating has been stereotyped as a “gay” sport for decades and has typically received a negative connotation compared to its masculine-perceived counterpart: hockey. Figure skating has often been labelled a girl’s sport or a “sissy” version of hockey because it relies on flexibility and precision technique whereas hockey relies on agility and strength. Breaking down stigmatism between sports showcases that both sports rely on all elements of training to make a more efficient athlete – figure skaters need agility just as much as hockey players require precision. LeDuc has a grip on where many of these stereotypes come from and acknowledges their own privilege within the sport while calling attention issues of homophobia and misogyny to show how fighting them is critical in achieving equality for all athletes.

Spending six days a week training for six years is a long time, especially when spending it training with someone for competitions that only come around a few times a year. Both LeDuc and Cain-Gribble have faced setbacks in competitions, but have thrived in the face of adversity, so make sure you don’t rule them out for Beijing 2022 quite yet.


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