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Olympian Blake Skjellerup

Blake SkjellerupWe caught up with recently out gay Winter Olympian, Blake Skjellerup, to chat about being gay in sport, food, drag queens, and coming out.

Age: 24
Hometown: Christchurch
Current location: Calgary, Canada

Tell us about what you do: I am a short track Olympic speed skater. I skate round a 111 metere oval track at speeds of up to 55 kmh.

How did you get into speed-skating? I got into speed skating through a learn to skate program over the school holidays. I was playing rugby but had broken my arm roller-blading. Rugby was not an option for the winter so I tried skating and it stuck. I just really enjoyed it.

Does being gay have an impact on your sporting career? I do not think so. I was the same person before I came out. Nothing has changed I have no corporate sponsors to worry about or endorsements to loose. I can understand other gay athletes’ problem with coming out. My sport is mainly an individual sport. You are solely responsible for your own performance. In a big sports team where moral and cohesion is important for performance it must be harder to come out because of fear of alienation. I believe you can be out and be able to function successfully in my sport with out suffering from homophobia and discrimination.

When and how did you come out? I came out to my family last year, 2009. Most of my family and friends all ready knew/ had their suspicions. But it became public and international knowledge just this month in the Australian gay magazine DNA. I was approached to do the DNA interview by a friend and I was all for it. I had nothing to hide, no person should have to hide who they really are. I did the interview back in February, I actually wrote my response on the plane back from Vancouver to Calgary right after the games. I had just visited Pride House in Whistler and realized that doing the article was the right thing to do, not just for myself, but for other athletes out there struggling with accepting being gay and still being able to operate in their sport. Coming out can be very hard no thanks to the persona society has placed on being gay, and if I could share my story to help bridge that gap and help just one person accept themselves I thought it was very worth while. DNA was actually delayed by 2 weeks, it was supposed to come out in mid April but I understand they had printing issues. It was just coincidence that out came out the same day as Chely Wright was making her announcement also.

Do you have any queer role models? Who? I cannot say I do. When I was growing up and coming into my sexuality I did not know of one gay athlete or gay person in the spotlight. I think the first person I realized was gay and in the spotlight was Rupert Everett in the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding. If I could have had one person to look up to or relate to my transitioning into being gay and accepting it would have been a lot easier. That’s why it’s so important for me to tell my story and other athletes, celebrities and public figures to come out, accept who they are, and let the world know that they are gay to show the youth of the world that being gay it not a sin, it is not an abomination, it is completely normal and that you should be proud of who you are.

Who was your first kiss with? I was 10. It was actually my 10th birthday and it was with a girl. But my first kiss with a guy was when I was 16.

Three things always in your fridge are: Milk, apple juice and bread.

Which gay stereotype best describes you? That’s an interesting question. I would say I fit my own stereotype. I am a gay athlete who hardly drinks or parties. So if I am a stereotype, I am the gay Olympic speed skater stereotype.

Favourites

Music: A Canadian band called Mariana’s Trench.
TV
: Glee and 24
Movies: Either Face Off with Nicholas Cage and John Travolta or Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock
Sport
: After my sport I love to water ski. My favourite spectator sport would have to be rugby league or tennis.
Celebrity
: Zac Efron
Restaurant
: There is this Indian restaurant in Christchurch called Tulsi. Best Indian food ever.
Bar/Club: I am not a huge partier, training takes up a lot of my time and you have to be pretty dedicated to remain competitive.
Drag queen: I cannot say I know of any drag queens or name any at all.
Gay icon: Neil Patrick Harris
Holiday destination: Anywhere that has a beach and a temperature over 25 deg with a lot of sunshine.
Colour: Black, blue and white
Underwear style: Boxer briefs.
Shoes: Anything with a flat sole and no laces.
Jeans: Levi’s, they always seem to fit me the best.
Designer: Armani

Thanks Blake, on behalf of all of our readers, for having the strength to come out in what can sometimes be a very difficult environment.  Kapai!

Visit Blake’s official website.

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