Rudy Galindo

1996 U.S. national champion
1996 World bronze medalist
Two-time national pairs champion

While he was not the first skater to be out while competing as an eligible (Matthew Hall was), it was Rudy Galindo's spectacular underdog success in 1996, weeks after coming out in Christine Brennan's book Inside Edge, that first brought the words "openly gay skater" to news broadcasts and major newspapers.

Since his rise to prominence, Galindo has participated in many gay community events and has had to decline many more.

On March 1, 2000, Galindo tested positive for HIV. As a survivor of the AIDS-related deaths of his brother and two coaches, he has seen the worst the disease can do. But in his typically forthcoming manner, on April 5, 2000, in an interview with Christine Brennan for USA Today, he became the first skater to acknowledge having HIV while still professionally active.

On January 12, 1999, Galindo had a cameo as himself (with lines) on the gay-themed NBC sitcom Will and Grace, with a plotline centering around an evening with Champions on Ice. The episode was called "Will on Ice." Will's friends bond over their favorite skaters Michelle Kwan, Surya Bonaly, and Galindo, whom one character calls "my hero -- he's the gay one!" To which another character responds, "One?"

On December 12, 1998, Galindo became the first skater broadcast on a U.S. television network doing a specifically gay-themed program, "Over the Rainbow" (covered by Melissa Manchester), skated at the USFSA's Keri Lotion Figure Skating Classic pro-am. Galindo used a sequined rainbow flag as part of his costume, and commentator Dick Button explained matter-of-factly that it was "the symbol of the gay and lesbian movement." Thank you to Galindo, Button, and ABC.
Copyright Photo by J. Barry Mittan

Copyright Photo by J. Barry Mittan
Galindo's 1998 exhibition program to a Village People medley explicitly references his sexual orientation. Skating to the gay group's hits "In the Navy," "Macho Man," and "YMCA," Galindo performs a send-up and celebration of gay images. To the lyrics "Macho, macho man," Galindo gleefully juxtaposes deliberately flouncy pirouettes, daring the audience to join his revelry in effeminacy. From delighted fan reviews, it is clear that audiences accept his dare. With this program, Galindo has garnered more applause than the tour's headliners, and proven that out gay skaters can be embraced by the most conservative of U.S. audiences.

Galindo's gayness, however, is peripheral to his rare skating talent. His spins boast speed, elegance, control, varied positions, and a flexibility that is unmatched among the current pro men. He holds national titles both in singles skating and in pairs (1989, 1990), with 1992 Olympic ladies' champion Kristi Yamaguchi. As a pair team, they performed a side-by-side jump sequence of a difficulty (triple flip into triple toe) that has not been seen in pairs in the many years since.

Copyright Photo by J. Barry Mittan

Copyright Photo by J. Barry Mittan

Copyright Photo by J. Barry Mittan

Thanks to J. Barry Mittan for these photos, showing Galindo in his "Over the Rainbow" and "Rondo Capriccioso" programs from the autumn of 1998. Note the impeccable turn-out and extension in Galindo's positions.

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