Graphic by YIKES,Inc.

Rudy Galindo flies over the rainbow

Until another A-list skater comes out, every month is Rudy Galindo Month at Rainbow Ice!

Way back in 1996, it was considered daring of him to skate with a big red ribbon in an AIDS memorial, even though there was nothing overtly gay about the program. Then last season, he created the most deadly-funny commentary on skating and masculinity in the "Macho Men" segment of his Village People medley. This season, we witness Galindo coming into his maturity and confidence even more with his first overtly gay-themed program, "Over the Rainbow." Kevin Anderson described Galindo's performances at the October 1998 U.S. Pro Classic on

Rudy looked like a cross between a gay Superman (Gayman?) and Jesus. In his first program he skated to "Somewhere over the Rainbow" dressed in a powder blue skintight bodysuit which would have made a Speedo-wearing swimmer stare. The ensemble was topped off with a rainbow colored cape. He also let his hair grow out and frizzed it up. From the neck up he looked remarkably like the picture of Jesus they sell in Catholic bookstores. He landed one of the best triple axels I've ever seen him do in a competition. Like everybody, he hit his jumps early and often. His second program was his Village People medly which had most of the crowd doing the Y-M-C-A arm thing. I've seen it several times and this was by far the best he's done it. He brought the house down. He did an even more gay footwork sequence than the last time. He makes Liberace look straight. I loved it.

Galindo has received heavy fan criticism lately for complaints against the judges. Quotes from his television interview at the U.S. Pros, aired October 24, 1998:

"The other guys, they just do conservative programs. Being openly gay and being Mexican American, I've always paid a price for everything I do. I come out and do something where the people and the judges are shocked. There have been so many times I get a standing ovation. I don't get the marks. They [the judges] don't know what Over the Rainbow means, the dedication to the gay pride flag."

In the same broadcast, competition organizer Dick Button said of Galindo's Village People medley, "I think that's a wonderfully put-together program. In every sense of the word, an interpretive program. I hope the judges see that and understand what that's about. He has fun with this, and I'll tell you something: the audience does, too. Nothing can faze him! Look at this!"

Fans point out, no doubt correctly, that the judges would give Galindo higher scores if his programs contained more footwork, greater speed, more difficult jumps that followed competition rules instead of repeating illegally, and spins that live up to his superior spinning ability. But that is only half the picture. They don't realize that behind the scenes, Galindo is, indeed, getting grief and homophobia from others in the skating world. As anyone can tell you who's ever been oppressed, it takes only a few comments to make you wonder if the whole world is against you.

Take, for example, Galindo's comment in the August 18, 1998 issue of The Advocate that 99% of all skaters are straight. Not only is this obviously untrue, but it contradicts earlier statements of his that there are world and Olympic medalists in the closet. We have to wonder: what has been done to Galindo, or threatened, to make him issue such a deliberate lie?

Then there are some who are angry because they feel that Galindo's style feeds stereotypes that gay = effeminate. To those people, I have one obvious solution: get more skaters to come out! If only one A-list skater is out, naturally everyone's going to focus on him. It is not Galindo's job to be other than himself. If no one else can stand the scrutiny, that is not his fault.

Of course it would be better if Galindo followed competition rules, improved his choreography, and stopped complaining about the judges. It never helps a skater to complain about marks. But his project of skating as an openly gay man, with a cultural context, backed by gay history and community, is more important than winning competitions or playing by the rules. The skating world has plenty of rule-followers, but to date, only one Galindo. The man is skating as if this were a better, freer world. And for that, Rainbow Ice has only gratitude.

Thanks, Rudy.

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