Ok, everybody ... it took me longer than I thought it would. I translated quickly, so it is not perfect. Feel free to amend, if you want.
But most of all ... enjoy!
Têtu: So, you recently posted a photo of you with another man. Is this your coming out?
Guillaume: It was rather funny to see how people reacted to this photograph. Before this publication, I didn’t consider myself as being in the closet, so it is not a real coming out. I never took a public stance on my sexual orientation as I don’t think that it should be required that members of my community do so. Heterosexuals do not have to come out publicly as such. But there were certainly many people who didn’t wonder about my sexual orientation and who then learned about it. I did hesitate a bit before going ahead. Because I am not in the habit of talking about really intimate aspects of my life. I don’t really know what came over me, I just thought: “What do I have to lose really?” (missing some text here …)
Têtu: It was not random to post this on May 17th, was it?
Guillaume: True. I chose to publish it on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. I thought that because I live in Montreal, one of the best places to live as a member of the LGBT community, it is easy to forget that it is not as easy to fit in everywhere in Canada and in other countries, even in France. Taking a public stance is helping others. Over the last months I talked to a number of people of the LGBT community, some of them activists who told me in several instances how much of an impact my involvement could have.
What has been holding me back was that I had the conviction that I shouldn’t have to come out. It seems to me that gay athletes are well-known for being gay. I don’t want to be known as the ice skater who is gay but as the ice skater who wins medals. But I do think that there is still hard work to be done to help change behaviors in the right direction. I am considering being more involved in this cause in the future. May be simply by offering to be spokesperson for an association. Nothing definite for now.
Têtu: How did people react to your post?
Guillaume: I was rather surprised to see many positive comments, it was really nice. Still there were about 200 to 300 people who stopped following me out of 84 000.
Têtu: Were the people close to you in the know?
Guillaume: Of course, I had told all the people close to me already. Years ago. My family is very tolerant and accepting of me, have always been. Everybody who knows me is aware. So only the public at large wasn’t informed yet. My coming out to my parents was not a big deal at all. I didn’t invite them all together for this big reveal. I told my parents when I was 18 at a Christmas party. They were happy that I trusted them enough to confide in them. They were a little sad that they had not been able to support sooner. My two older sisters were told sooner as were some close friends, individually. Generally speaking, I never treated it as a coming out. It happened mostly on occasions where I would introduce a boyfriend. (…missing text)
Têtu: Basically, the way you finally did it on May 17. Does it mean you are in a serious relationship?
Guillaume: The most serious until now. Otherwise I would never have made a show of my private life. We live together. He is French but that’s about what I am willing to reveal about him as I want to respect his privacy. What I can say is that he is 33 and that we have now been together for more than three years.
Têtu: Did the Figure Skating world help you to come to your own?
Guillaume: It is probably easier for me than it would be for a hockey player or a football player because it is after all also an artistic environment which is generally speaking very open-minded. There are gays in Figure Skating, just not as many as clichés make it out to be. There is this cliché of the gay figure skater. Sure, there are some gay figure skaters but there are also a lot of heteros. This said, I always felt rather free and welcomed in my sport’s environment. I never encountered hate there. It was rather in the school environment that I would have trouble.
Têtu: You have been skating since you were a child. Were people on the ice with you aware of this part of you?
Guillaume: Gabriella (the other half of this illustrious duo) and I have skated together since we were 9, so she knew before anybody else. One of my coaches, Romain Hagenauer, who has been my trainer since I was 17, he knew in my opinion. He is also gay. He was always for me someone to look up to. He was the first gay adult in my closer circle. He has been an important person for me, a sort of compass, a role model. I have learned to accept and love my femininity, a big part of who I am. It was there for all to see, but I was never bullied for it in my Figure Skating environment.
Têtu: It was obviously different at school?
Guillaume: I was bullied a lot at school. For me, as for many others, school is unfortunately the place where I was hurt most. From beginning to end, up to highschool, I have been shoved, insulted, spat at. Some people were tolerant and others less so. Not many people fought for me, for sure. And neither did I fight for myself.
Têtu: You started collecting medals as soon as Middle School. Did it somehow help bolster your self-confidence?
Guillaume: It’s only always a small number of people who cause trouble. It did help incrementally because then I ended up winning the French Championship and then the European Championship and the World Championship. In Middle School there were some expressions of respect from certain people that balanced out the jibes. I was a very shy kid, lacking self-confidence, so it helped me to know that I was good at something. Thanks to Figure Skating and my success with my partner, I gained some recognition.
Têtu: Your programs with your partner, Gabriella Papadakis, often show hints of sensuality. Is it more complicated, when you are attracted to men?
Guillaume: It is a challenge in the sense that it requires a performing skill, a role that is part of the programs. For the longest time, the problem was that I could not endorse my femininity on the ice and be myself. This sport is after all very coded with ‘a man and a woman’. The judges are mostly older and not very progressive. You have to accept that. It is part of the game. But I slowly took the liberty to dance in programs that offered me other roles than the traditional macho one. Because very often the masculine role is that of the frame to showcase the woman. And to showcase her, you have to create a contrast, enhancing the macho side of masculinity. To change that is an uphill battle, and Gabriella was always a great support. We are both longing for freedom. She was as just annoyed as I was by the limitations. We still have programs where we play masculine and feminine roles. It doesn’t bother us, because it is also a performance. But I still want to play other roles than a man’s. For instance, roles that are more fraternal, contemporary, where we are simply two souls, interpreting love, from human being two human being. I managed to free myself of the constraint when I realized that it was just a role: I took the liberty to be myself and embrace my feminine side.
Têtu: Did well-known people have an impact on this feminine part of you, which we recognize when you dance?
Guillaume: I never really had LGBT role models, unlike the younger generations (even if I am only 25 years old), who have many more. When I was younger it was still taboo. There were nevertheless a few artists who inspired me, and I would look up to, like Yves St Laurent or Robert Mapplethorpe. But until I was 15, I didn’t know of many and didn’t own a laptop or a cell phone. And then, LGBT people had less visibility than today. Even if it’s just my own experience. Sure, there was Madonna, Lady Gaga: when I was about 15, I took comfort to hear people like them. My mother and both my sisters were dancing, so I never asked myself if I should dance or not. To me, it was vital. You know Billy Elliot? I had the same need to express myself. It was my favorite movie. It made me feel normal. But to see boys dance never struck me as forbidden. In my figure skating club, there were 3 boys for 50 girls. There are so few boys that it makes them special: you need 2 to dance and you need boys. As soon as there is one, he is fought over by the trainers.
Têtu: You took part in the 2018 Olympic Games where you won a silver medal. Does the atmosphere in the Olympic village live up to his sexy reputation?
Guillaume: I was already living with my chum (‘boyfriend’ in Québécois), so I didn’t experience it personally, but I witnessed it. It doesn’t happen as much as that. May be the Summer Games are hotter than the Winter Games. I didn’t witness much hanky panky, let’s say, but rumors are rampant in the French Team. Hundreds of athletes between 22 and 23 in the same place! But I won’t tattle tell.
“Are you a boy or a girl?”, my classmates used to ask me when I was a child. Followed usually by laughs and jibes from other students. Was I a girl or a boy? That question didn’t really strike me as outlandish. Very young, I remember wondering about my identity, my gender identity. I remember very clearly confronting my mother: “Mom, am I a girl or a boy?”
Of course, I was not yet able to understand my questioning or to put it into words, but I had the feeling that I was different. Different from the other boys. I was terrified by the idea of having been born with the wrong body, I didn’t learn until much later that I could be gay, I only thought that something was wrong with me. I don’t want to encourage stereotypes, but I was always more inclined to play with dolls, to play dress up and play with make-up. I quickly discovered that boys “should” not play with Barbie dolls. So, I stopped doing it. I would sit on the bed and watch my sisters dress their dolls.
In Elementary school, I was very often alone, I didn’t want to play soccer with the boys and some days, my friends who were girls wanted to stay among themselves. So, I sat in a corner, neither girl nor boy, somewhere in between, desperately wishing for the bell to announce the end of recess. In Middle School I spent many a recess in the restrooms, hiding from bullies or to avoid the humiliation of being alone. I was an extremely shy boy and terribly sensitive, I almost never reacted to slurs. (.... had to remove the slurs to be able to post in this forum) and many more. These slurs would punctuate my everyday life and soon became this little toxic litany in the back of my mind. The dark secret bred by intimidation is that you get used to it. You get used to violence. It becomes your new normal. And very often you end up thinking that you deserve it. Those like me who came to believe that they didn’t deserve it are forever in a battle with this version of themselves shaped by others.
At times, to this day, I catch myself suppressing some of my behaviors, mimics or words, out of embarrassment or fear to displease. I have now been working for several years on myself, trying to rediscover and accept the parts of me that I had to hide, bury, suppress. Every human being has a part of masculinity and femininity, like it or not. Personally, I cultivate and celebrate both, in life and on the ice. These two energies are very complementary, and I enjoy drawing from one or the other, depending on each specific role on the ice.
Why talk about it today, you will ask? I have been pondering that question for some months now, and after discussing it with some of the people closest to me, I came to realize that if talking about it were to make a difference, even for a single person, and help them love and accept who they are, then it would be worth it.
Today, in spite of huge advances on the road towards tolerance, the fight is far from over.
I consider that my silence would not help the cause and would be construed as indifference more than
taking a stance. Even if my conviction is than real tolerance would mean not having to come out, just as heterosexuals never have to talk about their sexual orientation.
In an ideal world, nobody would have to justify their sexual or romantic proclivities. As somebody I am very fond of once told me: “You deserve to be loved. Just because you exist.”
Everyone deserves love and dignity, independent of who they identify with, man, woman or neither, independent of who they are attracted to, a man, a woman or both. We just want to be able to live peacefully with the respect, love and rights that we deserve. But in the meantime, I would like that all those who recognize themselves in what I wrote, know that they are not alone. The way we are treated doesn’t have to define who we are going to be or the success we are going to encounter. Preserving one’s dignity and cultivating one’s inner richness are essential.
Article with Paul Peret. We might get two new programs, Gabi says she doesn't want to get bored. Personally I'd be fine with Fame rebuilt from scratch with an actual step sequence and ditching the FD since they lost with it. Who knows though
Somewhat off-topic but Javier's talk with Romain and Jamal https://www.instagram.com/p/CCJ0wP8pPEX/ was lovely and of course a few brief mentions of Gabby and Guillaume. Romain said he wasn't really aware he had been a role model for Guillaume until he read the interview, but is of course happy to have been helpful, even if unknowingly, just by being himself. These two are such a lovely couple.
Is anybody else planning on watching the IAM Live session being filmed by Jordan Cowan on 11 September? I definitely will be (though as it starts at 2:30am where I am, I will definitely not be watching it live - thank goodness it will stay up for a couple of days afterwards!).
It really sounds like a great idea, and a way to make up for the showcase they didn't get to do because of Quebec's lockdown. I've seen some people on Twitter complaining about the fact that it's not free, but I don't mind paying, especially as it's a small charge. And I can't imagine that they'd ask Jordan to do such a huge and complex filming job for free, so I can consider myself as contributing to his pay packet, too...
And you never know, we might find out at last whether Gabriella and Guillaume are keeping their programs or creating new ones!
ETA: Gabi and Guillaume are currently listed as skating in the Masters de Patinage on October 1-3. I've created a thread in the competition subforum for talking about it closer to the date!
Oh man, I was hoping they would keep the tango free dance in the wings for the Olympics! Let's be real, we all knew it was coming Loved the bits of the FD that we did see, if they top their RD this has a shot at dethroning Oddudua imo!
I'm cross with them and Romain for fudging the rules and using The Artist in one of their potential RDs. It is not a musical, opera or operetta, it has no structural, musical or genre characteristics in common with any of those three forms, and the fact that a junior team got away with using it last season doesn't somehow magically make it into one of them.
I was feeling a bit cranky about the tango news, too, but maybe that was because I heard it late last night while I was tired. There are too many tangos in figure skating these days and those that don't aggravate me mostly bore me, though to be fair it's mostly singles skaters who do the aggravating. But their RD a couple of seasons ago won me over, and I did like the snippets I saw on the feed. That lift was great and I can see the choreo step being spectacular when they're fully rehearsed and trained.
I’m not completely surprised. They enjoyed their Tango RD (and most people liked it too), plus every dance team seems to have to do a “dance” program in their career... Hope they get to perform soon. International travel is still very tricky to navigate these days, esp for athletes for whom quarantine eats into their training time.