Timothy LeDuc this weekend became the first openly queer figure skater to win gold in the senior division of the US Figure Skating Championships.
The event this year took place in Detroit, Michigan. Results from the Championships are part of the selection criteria for events throughout the rest of the year, including the Four Continents Championships and World Championships.
LeDuc and his partner, Ashley Cain, won gold after performing their free skate on Saturday (26 January).
For the 2018-19 program, the pair skate to Bella Belle for their short program and the soundtrack to the movie W.E. for their free.
LeDuc is believed to be the first out American skater to win gold in the pairs senior division at the event. He spoke about this triumph following their win.
Athletes before him
‘I believe I am the first openly queer person to win the US pairs title,’ LeDuc told Team USA.
He brought up previous skaters Rudy Galindo and Randy Gardner, but acknowledged they weren’t out when they won gold.
Galindo won first in the seniors pair division at the US Championship twice. The first was in the 1988-89 season and the second was the following season. He came out as gay in 1996.
Gardner, meanwhile, won gold in the seniors pair division at the US Championship five years in a row, from 1975 to 1980, with his partner Tai Babilonia. He came out in 2006.
Similarly, there have also been out skaters in the junior division. Matt Evers won gold in the 1997-98 season in the juniors pair division at the US Championship. He came out last year, citing the Trump presidency and the death of his uncle due to complications from AIDS.
‘I’m very grateful. I stand on the shoulders of many great athletes who have come before me and allowed me to be open,’ LeDuc continued.
‘You can overcome’
While continuing to speak to Team USA, LeDuc said: ‘Queer people still face a lot of challenges in this country. We’re still fighting for equality.
‘I know for me personally I spent a lot of my earlier life self-deprecating because I didn’t understand who I was, and it’s taken years and years of work to overcome that; I still doubt myself sometimes.
‘To be standing here today as the first openly queer athlete, I don’t say that to honor myself, I say it to show to others that you can do this, you can overcome, and you are worth it; you don’t have to doubt yourself for any reason.’