Olympic figure skater Nathan Chen has released an apology for saying the sport is “homosexual dominated”.
Chen received backlash after he gave an insensitive answer regarding femininity and masculinity in figure skating.
While appearing on a podcast, Chen was asked if he was ever told to play hockey because it was more “masculine”.
“Yes certainly. Especially as a male athlete… as a straight male athlete in a fairly homosexual-dominated sport, or LGBTQ+ dominated sport,” Chen replied.
“I think that there is that connotation and there is that, ‘Well we don’t really wanna watch guys skate around and we’d rather watch hockey or we’d rather watch females do that,’ which I think is pretty messed up in itself.
“It’s a genuine sport, we spend our whole lives trying to hone this craft, and to just sort of be belittled like that is not something that is generally taken lightly.”
Soon after the podcast was released, people took to social media to express their disappointment with Chen’s comments.
One Twitter user wrote: “Its disappointing to hear this from someone who is basically one of the current faces of [figure skating]. So many wrong words spoken when the simple answer could just be “I wish to bring my own style into the sport”. Classical music is feminine? Females? Homosexual-dominated sport? Dude.”
Its disappointing to hear this from someone who is basically one of the current faces of fs. So many wrong words spoken when the simple answer could just be “I wish to bring my own style into the sport”. Classical music is feminine? Females? Homosexual-dominated sport? Dude 😐 https://t.co/q5BWpwRm9V
— yaya⁷🧈🌓🧈 (@minnieandmonie) July 27, 2021
Another user said that Chen had an opportunity to advocate for his LGBTQ+ teammates.
“Basically Nathan Chen had the opportunity to use his in-sport privilege to support queer athletes as an ally, talk about how figure skating is for everyone [and] discuss the types of expression rewarded at competition,” they tweeted.
“Instead he told us he was straight, equated feminine [with] queer and implied they were both negative, implied he is oppressed by queerness in the sport.”
After receiving backlash, Chen released an apology in a video statement.
“I recently did an interview where I was asked if people ever ask me why I don’t play hockey because of the connotation that skating is feminine and hockey is masculine. I gave an ignorant response to the question and I want to apologise for that,” he explained.
“In that moment I had the opportunity to shut down the perception that there is such a thing as a masculine or feminine sport and to shed light that these perceptions have created an environment that make it unsafe, stigmatising and even career-ending for athletes to come out.”
Chen then described the sport as an “art form” that gives athletes the room to individually express themselves.
“But instead of saying something meaningful I blurted out statements that aren’t even true, used language that’s harmful to the LGBTQIA+ community and to women and minorities and centred the response around myself,” he stated.
He then concluded his statement by saying that he “messed up” an opportunity to build more inclusivity in the sport.
Watch the full video below.
I’ve taken the time to read your words, hear from many of you personally, and have some really important conversations. I appreciate your honesty and accountability, and I owe you an apology. pic.twitter.com/EZVvKdfKBG
— Nathan Chen (@nathanwchen) July 27, 2021