Out French ice dancer, Guillaume Cizeron, won a gold medal Monday at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Cizeron skated with his longtime skating partner, Gabriella Papadakis. The pair, now aged 27 and 26 respectively, have been skating together for 17 years.

Historic Gold Medal

This is the pair’s first gold medal and France’s first gold medal for figure skating since 2002. It is also the second gold medal won by an LGBTQ athlete in Beijing, the first being Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst.

Wüst made history by winning five gold medals in five consecutive Olympic games. This was her sixth.

In 2018, at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the pair were a favourite to win gold. However, a wardrobe mishap in which Cizeron accidentally unclipped the back of Papadakis’s dress dashed those chances. They instead won silver. 

Speaking about the 2018 outfit incident in relation to their 2022 gold medal triumph, Cizeron said, “It made us want that gold medal more than anything else. And I think we’ve never worked that hard for a specific goal.”

Papadakis added, “We have been waiting for this. This is the medal that we wanted.”

Skating Was A Safe Space

For Cizeron,  skating was a safe place where he could express himself and build his confidence. 

“Figure skating wasn’t just a sport to me,” he said. “The rink was the only place except home where I was lifted up and not torn down for my mannerisms.” 

When it came to coming out, Cizeron told the French gay magazine Tetu in 2020: “even though I have never spoken publicly about my sexual orientation, I am one of those who think that it is not something that [people] should have to do. Straight people don’t come out.”

In an interview with Out, the same year, he said, “When I finally did get the courage to come out, I was fortunate enough to have a supportive family and to be born in a country where my existence wasn’t a crime.”

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