It’s a sport laced with creativity, magnificence and energy. Ice dance is poetry in movement, two skaters weaving gracefully throughout the ice floor collectively as one. Their precision and symmetry is one thing to marvel over.
But determine skating can be plagued by judgment — a world panel of judges scouring over each little element, then offering their rating.
It was that suffocating weight of realizing she was being watched each second that stored Canadian ice dancer Kailtyn Weaver hiding what she calls her little secret.
But now, two years after leaving aggressive determine skating, Weaver is uninterested in doing the dance and maintaining the facade simply to be accepted within the sport she loves.
On Friday, the 32-year-old grew to become the primary Olympic feminine determine skating to return out as homosexual.
“I’ve reached the point of not wanting to pretend anymore. It really weighed on my mental health to hide consistently a part of who I am,” Weaver advised CBC Sports in an unique interview. “I feel like it’s the right time in my life to share that I identify as a queer woman.
“I really feel like I have to step up as a result of I do know there are plenty of younger ladies and other people in sport who’re afraid to share who they’re,” she said.
For 13 competitive seasons Weaver was alongside her skating partner Andrew Poje. The two were consistently near the top of the standings — they ranked among the top five in nine of those years, are three-time world medallists in ice dance, winning silver in 2014 to go with bronzes in 2015 and 2018, and competed at the 2014 and 2018 Olympics for Canada.
But throughout all their success, Weaver knew there was something missing. She couldn’t pinpoint it because she wasn’t allowing herself to even go to that dark, scary place of confronting her sexuality.
‘Coming out was never something I considered’
“We are in a judged sport. We’re afraid to place one toe out of line for worry of what folks will take into consideration us,” Weaver said. “Coming out was by no means one thing I thought-about. It was not on the desk for me. Fear. It was not even an actual dialog I might have with myself.”
Weaver wasn’t willing to risk what she calls her livelihood while competing — she felt it would negatively affect their scores.
“Coming out remains to be not protected in plenty of nations around the globe. On a world panel who is aware of what somebody goes to evaluate you for?” she said. “It places you even deeper into hiding.”
But now it’s time to step forward. For herself. And for those who are coming after her. Weaver knows what’s at stake because she’s now able to fully see how much added weight she was carrying by not bringing all herself to life and competition.
‘What makes us different is okay’
“It’s been a battle. It’s been a battle to simply accept this a part of myself however I believe within the final yr we have all had our experiences realizing that what makes us completely different is okay and one thing to be celebrated,” she said.
This past year, locked down by the pandemic and with time for reflection, Weaver confronted her sexuality in a way she never could while competing. She says it was time to look in the mirror and face this head on. Weaver says it was easy to put it on the back burner throughout her career because she was always on the move and distracted by performing.
But keeping up that facade was and has taken its toll.
“I’ve performed that my entire life. Skating first, private life second. I’ll determine it out later,” she said. “But it received to the purpose the place it wasn’t wholesome anymore. When the pandemic hit, I simply knew this was going to be it. It was time.
“I had nowhere to hide anymore. I needed to do that for myself.”
WATCH | Weaver, Pojo waltz to 4th at World Team Trophy:
Weaver was born in Houston, Texas. She moved to Canada when she was 17 and threw herself at her sport. It’s been everything to her. It was all she identified with and how people identified her.
“There’s a lot of pressure on young girls and women in my sport to play the archetype. I think it’s our responsibility to say yes, you can be that but you can also be all of these other things too,” Weaver said. “I am those things too, I like playing the role of the princess and wearing the gowns.
“So when I was uncovering myself and sexuality, it didn’t feel like those two things matched. There were no role models in my sport who were like me,” she said.
There’s a lightness and energy in her voice now as she shares her hopes and dreams for what’s ahead, something Weaver says she hasn’t felt in a really long time. And while there’s this newfound perspective, she still has some fears about how the world will view her.
“I’m not sure what waits on the other side of this. There’s a lot of excitement. Some fear. But you know what, it’s time this stops being a thing. I’m ready to step into the light,” she said.
WATCH | Kaitlyn Weaver on reminding girls that sports is for everyone:
Weaver now calls Manhattan, N.Y., home. She says she’s found an amazingly supportive group of people there, wrapped in their love in this big shift for her.
It’s Pride Month too, something Weaver celebrated in the past but not the way she’s wanted to. That’s changed for this year.
“I really feel in my bones that I can have a good time another way. It’s not a small, secret nook in my coronary heart that I’m celebrating this anymore,” she said. “That’s what it was for a very long time, my little secret. It simply feels so good to have the ability to share my entire coronary heart.”
And it’s her hope that she’s carving out a new path in her sport for those who are still competing and
“It’s actually essential to go searching and ask what we’re lacking right here. That goes for racialized folks too. You take a look at our sport. It’s white. It’s heteronormative and it is elite,” she said.
“Why are there no queer girls? What’s the rationale? That’s why I really feel it is my job to ask why we do not really feel protected. Why cannot you be one and the opposite? It’s our job to look critically at our sport and say what teams of individuals aren’t represented right here.”