July 8, 2010 was not a good day for me. I hadn't felt well the night before, and I knew I had to get up and drive my nephew to school. I decided I didn't need to get up early enough to shower and dress, I could take care of that when I came back home. So I got up, put some pants on over my pajamas, put my shoes on and left the apartment to go pick my nephew up at his house in Chandler.
We were nearly all the way to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Scottsdale where my nephew is studying to become a chef when it happened. A vehicle in front of us slowed for traffic and we slowed along with it. The car directly behind us immediately rear ended us, throwing us both forward and causing my seat belt to automatically lock, which it is supposed to do. I pulled my car into a nearby convenience store parking lot, parked it and got out while my nephew walked back to where the car that had hit us was sitting. I drive a 2003 Ford Taurus, and until I was rear ended it was relatively free of body damage. The accident completely destroyed my back bumper, and it was basically hanging off the back of the car. In addition the trunk popped open and refused to close.
Rather than just take the other driver's information I decided to call the Scottsdale Police so there would be an official report. There was a witness who willingly gave us his name and phone number in case it was needed later. Aside from my nephew missing his entire day of classes while we all stood around in 100 plus degree heat; the worst thing about the entire ordeal was the fact that I was standing around in a pajama top. I had to talk to the other driver, the witness, the convenience store employees and two police officers all while standing outside with traffic whizzing by as I wore a pajama top.
Once we managed to figure out how to tie down my trunk lid while the other driver had to be towed and I had a copy of the police report I was able to leave the scene. By the time I drove my nephew back to Chandler and then managed to get myself back to Mesa it was well into the afternoon and I was still wearing a pajama top. I had to get on the computer briefly to check on some things for my mother, and whenever I get on I always briefly check Twitter and Facebook to see if anything interesting has happened since I signed off the previous evening. Imagine what I thought when I saw what I had missed over the previous few hours!
First I encountered an @johnnygweir tweet saying 'I Love My Fans'. About an hour after that one was sent there was another tweet saying 'i am sorry to disappoint you all. I will be back. Don't be sad. I love you so much.' I couldn't help thinking, 'What? What happened? What did I miss?' The second tweet contained a link to an audio feed of Johnny reading a statement at YouTube that was later taken down. I've heard it was taken down due to negative comments, though some people have said they didn't see many there.
It was later put up again by other sources:
Johnny Weir Official Statement He Is Taking a Year Off
Official Statement from Johnny Weir about taking a year off to reinvent his skating.
I'm not sure exactly what I felt when I first saw this statement and these articles regarding Johnny Weir taking a one year break from competition. It wasn't completely unexpected, but it was still a surprise in a way.
When the Sundance Channel showed the season finale of 'Be Good Johnny Weir' on June 27th they promoted it by suggesting Johnny would let us know during the show whether he would continue to skate or not. It is important to note that Johnny himself never said he would reveal anything during the show, Sundance did. Those of us who watched the show didn't really expect we would get an answer during the episode, but after watching it we wondered when exactly we would be given an answer. Now looking back to BGJW Episode 109 we fans can see we were given an answer, even if we did not know it at the time. Johnny suggested while talked to his mom Patti and his Aunt Diane that he might take a year off from competitive skating; and as it turns out that is what he decided to do.
I can not be unhappy about Johnny's decision to take a break. While I would like nothing better for him than to be able to show the USFSA and all the naysayers and detractors exactly how good he really is by kicking some serious ass in competitions, I also am completely fed up with how he has been treated within the relatively small world of eligible competitive figure skating. I am tired of watching this talented, unique, artistic, intelligent, athletic, imperfect but wonderful and soulful human being be artifically held down by stuffed shirts who are doing more to damage a lovely sport than any athlete could ever do.
While there has been some negative response to Johnny's statement, most of the comments have been positive or at least supportive. First and foremost, I personally want Johnny Weir to be happy. In order to be happy he has to be who HE wants to be. He has to do what he wants to do first and foremost; and if he does that, the rest will follow.
It is my sincere hope that, if Johnny Weir indeed takes a year off from competition and returns, that he does it because he truly wants to do it, not because of a promise he made to his fans or to anyone else. After all, he is the one who has to pay for it, work for it, be disappointed or elated about it, listen to the criticism, wear the costumes, train, diet, abstain, deal with the officials and the judges and so on...
The only thing that truly bothered me about the tweets Johnny Weir sent out when he made his official announcement is when he said he was sorry to disappoint us. It pains me to think he might actually think he disappointed us, his fans, by making a decision that is right for him at this point in time. Yes, we are his fans, but it's still Johnny's life. I'm not sad, I'm glad he is going to go out and do what is important for him to do. He thinks it is the right step for him to take in his career at this point in time; and if that's the case, then so do I. What's right for him is exactly what he SHOULD be doing. The only person Johnny Weir truly has to please is Johnny Weir. Like I said, if he does what is best for him first, then the rest will follow. I'm not living his life, and what is best for him is what he should be doing.
'It's a sad man my friend
Who's living in his own skin
And can't stand the company.'
--Bruce Springsteen 'Better Days'
Johnny ends his official statement by thanking everyone who supported him, including his fans. I feel as though I, a long-time fan of figure skating who has known about Johnny Weir since around 2002, should be thanking him, not him thanking us.
I should thank him for never backing down, no matter how difficult life and competition became for him; how difficult it still is for him. Sometimes I wonder what century I am living in when I hear about the negativity, lack of support and slurs he deals with on a regular basis even now.
I should thank him for having the courage at the young age of twenty-one to put up with all the homophobic slurs on him and the hate mail and email he received after the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and continue to persevere. I should thank him for using his God given talent to help create and skate beautiful and lyrical figure skating programs and costumes. I should thank him for being the caring, loving, talented, intelligent, outspoken, gorgeous, generous, and imperfect but always trying to improve human being that he has become. We can thank his parents and upbringing for at least some of that; however if he wasn't Johnny none of that would have mattered. The Weirs are a truly extraordinary family, and that has all culminated in the persona of one John Garvin Weir; figure skater, equestrian, fashionista, author, fashion designer, choreographer, singer, student, and frankly any damn thing he wants to be!
Full speed ahead, Johnny G Weir! God loves you and so do I!
Other sources and articles regarding Johnny Weir taking a break from competition:
Vanity Fair Interview July 8, 2010 With Johnny Weir
Huffington Post Article on Johnny Weir Taking Time Off
ABC News on Johnny Weir Taking Time Off
Skater Weir taking competitive break to reinvent himself
The text of Johnny Weir's 'official' statement regarding his competitive break:
My dearest fans,
I would like to officially announce that I am withdrawing my name from the 2010-2011 competitive season. My decision comes after months of weighing the pros and cons of competing this season, and I have decided that I need a year to explore and reinvent myself as an athlete and artist.
There are many projects that I'm currently working on and that I want to devote my time to, including my single, "Dirty Love," my fashion line, "Be Unique," and my quarter-century memoirs to be published with Gallery Books. I'm also working on the second season of my hit reality TV series, and of course skating in shows around the world and producing my own skating spectacular.
I want to thank so many people: My mom, Patti; my coaches, Galina Yakovlevna Zmievskaya, Viktor Vassilievich Petrenko, and Nina Leonidovna Petrenko; my choreographer, David Wilson; my agent, Tara Modlin, and Fireworks Sports Marketing; and my friends, family, and most of all my fans. I skated for my fans this season, and I was able to skate because of them. They gave me inspiration every day in practice and helped in so many ways to get me back to the Olympics for the second time. I am forever in your debt.
The main reason for my decision is to have more time to reinvent my skating. I want to create a new skating image for myself so that when I return to competitive skating, I can perform in a way that is both unique and inspiring. I say all of this in hopes that I will return as a competitor for the 2011-2012 season.
At twenty-six years old, I have been competing at the highest level of the sport since 2000. Training and competing have been my only way of life for the past thirteen years. While it has been a magical journey, I feel that a brief hiatus will be truly beneficial to my skating and my future.
Although I'm taking a break from competitive skating, I still hope to be on the ice as often as possible, training and performing for my many fans around the world. I have even selected music for my next competitive programs and am already dreaming up costumes.
While my eyes are currently focused on many different projects, my brain will never forget about the Sochi Olympics in 2014. It would be a dream for me to compete in an Olympic Games in Russia, and I think one thing my fans know about me is that I don't give up on a dream easily.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me. I hope to be performing for you very soon. I believe this is the right step for me to make in my career at this time, and I am very proud of everything I have accomplished so far in my life as a figure skater.