I’ve always enjoyed watching figure skating. I remember as a child wishing I could do it -“ but I grew up in Dubbo and there were no ice rinks.
The first time I saw figure skating live was at the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney. The first skaters who came out looked like they’d only been skating a few weeks.
I’d always thought I was too old to skate, but here were all these adults having a fantastic time, and the audience was so supportive. I remember thinking, I could have done that with a bit of preparation. I want to go in the next Gay Games.
The following Saturday, before the Gay Games had even finished, I went with my brother and a friend to Canterbury Olympic ice rink to have a go.
I whacked on these rental skates, which were as blunt as anything -“ I didn’t realise at the time -“ and stepped onto the ice. My feet were slipping and sliding everywhere and I was quite dejected. I thought it was going to be too hard.
But I’m a Taurean and, once I make my mind up that’s it, I’m going to do it. I wasn’t going to give up on the first day.
After that I went to London -“ I’m a Qantas flight attendant -“ and bought a pair of skates. Once I got those it started to get easier.
I stopped off in Bangkok, where there is an ice rink on the ninth floor of a shopping centre. I can remember going around and around thinking, I’m going to learn how to do this properly.
I started by doing group lessons for about six months at Canterbury. In the first few months I started moving ahead of the other people, and the instructor encouraged me to get private lessons.
Now I train at least two hours a day when I’m in Sydney. I also skate in Los Angeles when I’m there for work. It’s like my gym I suppose -“ I’m hooked.
It’s two steps forward, one step back with ice skating. You can have a fantastic day where everything just works and then the next day you’ll go to do it again and it’s hopeless. It can be very frustrating in that sense but it’s also a challenge.
I did my first competition here about a year after I started skating. In the first year I did quite a few but I was usually the only adult in the competition. My opposition has predominantly been 10 and 11-year-olds. I’m 37 and I’ve been beaten by a 10-year-old.
So I’ve got all these lovely first place trophies, but I was the only one in my category. You get a trophy and everything, it just says first place. It doesn’t say how many were in it.
In my first competition I was so nervous. I stepped out onto the ice and my heart was pounding. The music started and I pushed off and my legs were jelly. I thought, Oh my God. What am I am going to do? I’ve got one-and-a-half minutes to do this.
But I got through it. With each competition since, the nerves have slowly abated. I don’t know how I’ll go in Chicago with 200 gay men gawking at me.
I just competed in an all-adults event in Melbourne, where I got a first and second. There were six in my group, so that’s my first real first place. I came away from that feeling really positive and ready because I did the programs I’m taking to Chicago.
I’m skating in Chicago over three days from 18 July. My first event will be the artistic program. I’m skating to Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful.
In the second session, the spotlight program, you can be a character. I’ve gone for drama and I’m going to do Shirley Bassey’s This Is My Life. The costume is black crushed velvet. The lady who made it loves doing sequins. I said, don’t hold back with the crystals. It’s got to be over-the-top.
The first routine has more graceful and elegant moves in it. The Shirley Bassey one is more edgy. It’s all hands and expression and a bit punchier.
My partner Michael is coming with me. He’s my manager and he’s been a great support for me. After we saw the Sydney Gay Games competition, I was hesitating about having a lesson. He told me to just go and have one.
As far as I know I’m the only Australian figure skater going. I’m really excited. Once I did the adult competition in Melbourne and showed I could do it in front of people I said, let’s go.
The gold medal would be the icing on the cake. It’s a long way to go and a lot of money to spend for four minutes on the ice. But when you love doing something, that’s what you do.
Interview by Ian Gould