Boitano's AIDS quote

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Lorrie K » Mon, 26 Aug 1996 04:00:00


        In the October/November 1996 issue of International Figure
Skating, on page 65, it says that Brian Boitano told Michael H. Hodges of
the _Detroit Free Press and News_:

        "AIDS is a nonissue in skating.  To this day I don't know a
person with HIV in the skating ranks."

        Does anybody know if Boitano really said this, and in what
context?  If it is what it looks like, then I am quite disturbed.  
        The statement "AIDS is a nonissue in skating" is a distortion.  To
say "Skating is not obsessed with AIDS, or more burdened with AIDS than
other sports; AIDS usually does not interfere with the everyday business
of training and competing"  might make sense, but I don't understand the
statement as attributed.
        What does Boitano mean by "to this day"?  If he means he has
never met a skater with HIV, that is a lie, since he has certainly known
skaters who have died of AIDS.  If he means actively competing, then he
cannot phrase the statement as he has, because he has no way of knowing
who does or does not have HIV unless they tell him.  And if skating is
like all other walks of American life, there are surprisingly large
numbers of HIV-positive people who keep mum about their serostatus.
        _If_ Boitano really said this, I guess he is trying to combat the
image that American figure skating is nothing but an AIDS ward...but I
don't think blatant non-truths are the way to achieve that goal.  Despite
continuing advances in HIV medical research, HIV infection rates are still
going to worsen before they improve, and it helps nobody to maintain an
attitude of denial about it.
        As an AIDS activist I am unhappy with the message of stigma and
invisibility that comments like these send to people with AIDS.  And if
Boitano is making the point that there are no skaters with HIV, then what
if a skater goes public about being positive?  Does that suddenly destroy
Boitano's description of AIDS as a "nonissue"?  I conclude that the
subtext of Boitano's message feels like, "And if any of you skaters out
there really do have HIV, either keep out or shut up, for the good of the
sport."
        I imagine Boitano was trying to do good by this statement.  But I
think it would do a lot more good for the world to see HIV-positive
athletes admitting their serostatus and leading happy, healthy athletic
careers.

                                        Lorrie Kim

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Jon Sey » Mon, 26 Aug 1996 04:00:00

:       In the October/November 1996 issue of International Figure
: Skating, on page 65, it says that Brian Boitano told Michael H. Hodges of
: the _Detroit Free Press and News_:

:       "AIDS is a nonissue in skating.  To this day I don't know a
: person with HIV in the skating ranks."

:       Does anybody know if Boitano really said this, and in what
: context?  If it is what it looks like, then I am quite disturbed.  

What a bizarre comment.  I can't think of *any* place wehre AIDS is a
"nonissue," and to suggest this is true about skating is dangerous
denial at best.  Lorrie, could you or someone else who gets this
magazine tell us a little more about the article in which these remarks
appeared?  I assume that the two sentences appear all by themselves, but
I don't know what the article is about, or why someone from the Detroit
Free Press was soliciting Boitano's commentary on the topic in the first
place.

I find this comment particularly odd coming from someone in the Bay Area,
where there has been an even longer period of coping with AIDS than in
many other areas in the world.  Grr.
--


 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Sandra Loosemo » Mon, 26 Aug 1996 04:00:00

           In the October/November 1996 issue of International Figure
   Skating, on page 65, it says that Brian Boitano told Michael H. Hodges of
   the _Detroit Free Press and News_:

           "AIDS is a nonissue in skating.  To this day I don't know a
   person with HIV in the skating ranks."

           Does anybody know if Boitano really said this, and in what
   context?  If it is what it looks like, then I am quite disturbed.  

The quote appeared in a news article back in May.  Boitano was being
solicited for his opinions about Christine Brennan's book and the
reasons why the USFSA had "banned" her.  Boitano said he hadn't read
the book but chose to gripe anyway about her claims about the
prevalence of ***ity and AIDS/HIV in the skating world.
Boitano was also quoted as saying that "95.8%" of male skaters were
straight.  The news article quoted a few other people as well,
including Brennan herself and somebody who said that Boitano must have
his head in the sand.

-Sandra

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Louis Epste » Mon, 26 Aug 1996 04:00:00


:
: What a bizarre comment.  I can't think of *any* place wehre AIDS is a
: "nonissue,"

A cloister for retired contemplative nuns?

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Mary A. » Mon, 26 Aug 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>Boitano was also quoted as saying that "95.8%" of male skaters were
>straight.

Has he asked all the sakters personally?

On the one hand I can certainly understand him wanting to protect the
reputation of his sport.  On the other hand he shouldn't go spouting
off unsubstantiated numbers?

--
  The main thing is to not let go of the vine.
    -- Johnny Weismuller


 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Mary A. » Mon, 26 Aug 1996 04:00:00

Quote:


>:
>: What a bizarre comment.  I can't think of *any* place wehre AIDS is a
>: "nonissue,"
>A cloister for retired contemplative nuns?

Unless of course the nuns are concerned for the sick and dying.

--
  The main thing is to not let go of the vine.
    -- Johnny Weismuller


 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by timothy mizer » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00

Quote:


>:
>: What a bizarre comment.  I can't think of *any* place wehre AIDS is a
>: "nonissue,"

>A cloister for retired contemplative nuns?

Ever hear of a transfusion?

--
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
"Watch the road and memorize                 |     Timothy Mizerak

   nothing is going my way."   - R.E.M.      |    

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Icytw » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00

The actual quotes from the May  4, 1996 Detroit News interview with Brian
Boitano:

 >>   "AIDS," he says from a pay phone at Bloomingdale's in Manhattan, "is
a non-issue in skating. To this day I don't know a person with HIV in
the skating ranks."

   Ditto as to gay men. Maybe there are a lot of ***s among
"lesser skaters," he suggests, "but among the elite, 95.8 percent are
straight." <<

Makes you wonder when and where he studied statistics, and what the
"lesser skaters" think of the last statement.

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Louis Epste » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00



:

: >:
: >: What a bizarre comment.  I can't think of *any* place wehre AIDS is a
: >: "nonissue,"
:
: >A cloister for retired contemplative nuns?
:
: Unless of course the nuns are concerned for the sick and dying.

I specified "contemplative" to make clear the nuns were not ministering...

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Fred Go » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00

"Stunningly stupid" is the phrase that comes to mind.

I'm willing, however, to give him credit for making a bad try at putting a
positive spin on a controversial question.

If this question was originally put to him during the Brennan book flap,
when it seemed the general media had fastened on the "facts" that most male
skaters were gay and half of them HIV positive, he was attempting to be more
positive.

"attempting" badly I concede.  Boitano also has to be aware of the rumors
about his own ***ity which certainly could color his thinking and his
response.

What we need to remember about situations like this is that it is not as
easy people think to make the "just right" response, especially if
confronted by a somewhat hostile question.  

Brian Boitano can do things, like the "tano Lutz" that the rest of us can't
even imagine --why then can't he articulately answer a question?  Different
people have different talents.  I know I have faced difficult questions in
interviews and know that i is not as easy it looks.

Politicans are taught to stay "on message" which means essentially, ignore
the question and make your own statement instead --but if the questionner is
a Sam Donaldson type, that's not easy either.
Fred Goss, publisher
Fred Goss' WHAT'S WORKING

301-816-8950 ext. 266

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Trudi Marrapo » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>         In the October/November 1996 issue of International Figure
> Skating, on page 65, it says that Brian Boitano told Michael H. Hodges of
> the _Detroit Free Press and News_:

>         "AIDS is a nonissue in skating.  To this day I don't know a
> person with HIV in the skating ranks."

>         Does anybody know if Boitano really said this, and in what
> context?  If it is what it looks like, then I am quite disturbed.  

Yes, he did. It was very recently, too. During this past Tour of
Champions. I got a copy of this in e-mail back when I was at my other
address. I believe I still have a hard copy of it somewhere. If you like,
I will look it up for you.

I found it upsetting myself. This was a man who skated in the first Skate
the Dream show as a tribute to Rob McCall. For him to say he never knew
any skater with HIV was, to me, like Peter in the Bible denying Jesus
Christ three times before the*** crew. How could he do that? And even
more amazingly, how could he say it thinking that no one would remember?
How could he not *want* us to remember?

Quote:
>The statement "AIDS is a nonissue in skating" is a distortion.  To
> say "Skating is not obsessed with AIDS, or more burdened with AIDS than
> other sports; AIDS usually does not interfere with the everyday business
> of training and competing"  might make sense, but I don't understand the
> statement as attributed.

Me either. I think all male skaters are concerned about AIDS being seen as
just "a male skater problem" or "a gay problem." Brian Orser has said "You
don't get AIDS from skating" and "It's not just a gay disease." But I
can't imagine him (or any other skater, for that matter) conveniently
denying knowledge of either Rob in particular or the skaters they have
known in general who have been HIV-positive or who are dying or have died
of AIDS. They simply wanted it understood that AIDS is not just a problem
for skaters, or for gay men, and that people needn't fear skating or male
skaters.

Quote:
>         What does Boitano mean by "to this day"?  If he means he has
> never met a skater with HIV, that is a lie, since he has certainly known
> skaters who have died of AIDS.  If he means actively competing, then he
> cannot phrase the statement as he has, because he has no way of knowing
> who does or does not have HIV unless they tell him.  And if skating is
> like all other walks of American life, there are surprisingly large
> numbers of HIV-positive people who keep mum about their serostatus.
>         _If_ Boitano really said this, I guess he is trying to combat the
> image that American figure skating is nothing but an AIDS ward...but I
> don't think blatant non-truths are the way to achieve that goal.  Despite
> continuing advances in HIV medical research, HIV infection rates are still
> going to worsen before they improve, and it helps nobody to maintain an
> attitude of denial about it.

I agree. To me, "to this day" means "I never have, from the day I began
skating to this day"--not "*Today* I don't know anyone." And why would he
say "*Today* I don't know anyone" anyway--thus callously implying that the
threat was completely over?

I remember that in 1992, around the time of the first Skate the Dream, an
article came out in the Calgary Herald in which statements were made that
X percentage of male skaters are gay, and giving a specific number of
skaters who had died from AIDS-related diseases as determined by the
reporter from sources he had talked to--about 40 skaters, coaches, etc.,
all off the record of course. The article discussed the AIDS problem in
context of the Canadian skaters had died or were HIV positive, and John
Curry's then-recent announcement that he had AIDS.

I thought it was pretty balanced and sensitively done, and understood why
the reporter had trouble with getting sources to go on record with such
specific statements. But some skaters, including Brian Orser, Brian
Boitano and Paul Wylie, were quoted in the press as objecting to some
points made in the article. Orser's objection was that he felt the article
tried to single out all male skaters as gay or implied that AIDS was only
a gay problem. Boitano and Wylie, on the other hand, categorically denied
knowing any *American* skaters with HIV or AIDS, and said that the article
was a "witch hunt." They suggested, by their statements "I don't know any
American skaters..." that AIDS was only a *Canadian* or *European*
problem. Boitano said "I haven't met anyone that reporter talked to" (in
other words, he was saying he'd never met Brian Orser, because Orser was
quoted in the article!).

I feel Boitano and Wylie did this because they knew how foolish they would
look if they said at the time that they didn't know ANY skaters with the
disease. So they said they didn't know any *Americans.* Trouble is, it
gave their quotes the effect of seeming to say "AIDS isn't an *American*
problem--we're real sorry for all those Canadians and for John Curry, but
it's not in our back yard. And don't you dare say it is, because if you do
Joe Sixpack and his family will believe it and won't come to our shows
anymore."

I find it very disturbing that after only a few years, Brian Boitano seems
to be hoping that we will all forget he ever met or had anything to do
with Rob McCall.

Quote:
>         As an AIDS activist I am unhappy with the message of stigma and
> invisibility that comments like these send to people with AIDS.  And if
> Boitano is making the point that there are no skaters with HIV, then what
> if a skater goes public about being positive?  Does that suddenly destroy
> Boitano's description of AIDS as a "nonissue"?  I conclude that the
> subtext of Boitano's message feels like, "And if any of you skaters out
> there really do have HIV, either keep out or shut up, for the good of the
> sport."

Like I say, it's too late. He knew Rob. Rob died. Brian Boitano skated in
his tribute show. Yet these several years later, Brian seems to feel he
can hide the very knowledge that he ever knew Rob and get away with it.
Why?

Quote:
>         I imagine Boitano was trying to do good by this statement.  But I
> think it would do a lot more good for the world to see HIV-positive
> athletes admitting their serostatus and leading happy, healthy athletic
> careers.
>                                         Lorrie Kim


I agree. But it seems that some skaters are *very* nervous about having it
known that they were even friends with a skater who had HIV or died in an
AIDS-related way--once it is no longer convenient or once it threatens
their own image. That's my theory, at least. I find it very sad and
disturbing.

Trudi

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Jean Mignaul » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00

List of Comments I made as I read this!

1.  Denial.

2.  Scared.

3.  Desperately seeking the politicaly correct bedtime story.

4 . I felt ashamed of his comments especially in regards to the fact that
    he knew and skated in competitions with Rob McCall, and his
    participation the in memorial show that also collected funds for AIDS
    research in Rob's name.

5.  Living on another planet.

6.  "Say it ain't so!"

7.  Pompous.

8.  Insular.

Still shaking her head,

D. Mignault

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Kevin Anders » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> Boitano was being
>solicited for his opinions about Christine Brennan's book and the
>reasons why the USFSA had "banned" her.  Boitano said he hadn't read
>the book but chose to gripe anyway about her claims about the
>prevalence of ***ity and AIDS/HIV in the skating world.
>Boitano was also quoted as saying that "95.8%" of male skaters were
>straight.  The news article quoted a few other people as well,
>including Brennan herself and somebody who said that Boitano must have
>his head in the sand.

Maybe he was refering to all male skaters and not just the well known
big timers.  I would guess that the percentage of gay skaters in the
low levels is much lower than it is at the top.  I doubt many of the
boys in the 10-13 year old range are gay.

Kevin

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by Jean Mignaul » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00

I meant to say impolitically correct bedtime story.

 
 
 

Boitano's AIDS quote

Post by SANDSON » Tue, 27 Aug 1996 04:00:00

I have to agree with the rest of you on the utter absurdity of Brian's
remarks.  This is not the first time he has spoken out like this, so I
don't think it can be attributed as a response to Brennan's book.  I don't
remember where the interview was but maybe someone else will - a few years
back, before the 94 Olympics I believe, he went on a similar rant about
how AIDS was not a problem in the skating world and that all the skaters
he knew were straight.  Methinks he dost protest too much!
     Did anyone else get a giggle about the 95.8% remark?  Pretty precise
figure there, Brian.  I wonder about the research involved?  Considering
most studies put the number of ***s at closer to 10% of the
population, skaters must be a pretty studly bunch!.