“You shouldn’t be ashamed of what makes you special. Be proud of it!” Timothy LeDuc about Zhulin’s comments
Interview with Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc for Russian media.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 6th February 2022 by Vlad Zhukov
What is it like to be here at the Olympics?
Ashley: We are very excited! The Olympics have been our dream since we were kids. We’ve worked very hard over the six years that we’ve been skating together to make this happen. It think getting here is the unification of the efforts of our entire team, which supported us all this time.
Do you follow the team event?
Timothy: Yesterday we watched the competitions from our box. In addition, we participate in training, including team training, so yes, we follow the event. We are very happy for our teammates, and in general we are very inspired by these competitions. There are so many great athletes with fantastic skating. This is even more inspiring.
Ashley: There are not so many spectators at this Olympics, so we pay more attention to other athletes who also support us.
Do you have any favorite pairs here?
Timothy: Every athlete in such cases should name himself first! (Laughs) Seriously, this is a very difficult question.
Ashley: Yes. Here each pair is unique, with its own special style. This is what makes the team event so exciting. We respect every pair and wish everyone successful performances.
And among Russian pairs?
Timothy: You’re still pushing us this way! (laughs) We really like all of them. And we want them all to show their maximum.
Do you think the USA still has a chance to win?
Timothy: To be honest, we haven’t seen today’s results yet. Russia leads 36:34? Well… We can assume that yes, there is still a chance. Ice is slippery and anything can happen. In addition, you never know, something unforeseen suddenly happens, like withdrawal for medical reasons … I don’t want anything like that for anyone, of course.
Are you ready to skate the free program?
Timothy: Oh no. We will not perform in a free program.
Ashley: As far as we know, we were left to compete only in the individual event. We must continue to train and keep ourselves in shape before it.
Timothy, sorry in advance for these questions, but I have to ask. Can you tell us about your nonbinarity? How did you come to your sense of self?
Timothy: So that’s a really good question! You know, I think this process has been going on all my life. I tried to understand myself and be honest with myself, admit to myself who I am. From childhood, we are taught not to take some steps, or, on the contrary, to do something in order to achieve a result and at the same time remain safe. But since childhood, I clearly decided for myself what I need to do.
I think around the age of 20 I began to understand a little more about myself. And among the same queer people, I finally felt that I had found my place. Remarkable queer people helped me to realize who I am. They inspired me by their example, and I’m glad that now I can do the same for others.
Have you faced criticism in your country?
Timothy: I think a lot of people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identities, including queer people, face criticism to some extent. In this age of social media and mass media, you can be a man or a woman, and that’s it. And everyone is trying to fit only into these two categories. So, yes, there will always be criticism. But I would like to appeal to all people who face criticism and pressure – do not let it broke you. Be yourself. You deserve your place in this world just like everyone else.
Look at me and Ashley – we went through the same thing. We’ve been criticized countless times, both of us have been told many times, “No, this sport doesn’t need you.” And here we are. Two-time US champions, participants of the Olympic Games. And we carry it in ourselves, show the world what makes us unique. I hope this will inspire people who have been in similar situations.
At the same time, in Russia you are very actively criticized.
Timothy: You know, it seems to me that in Russia, in the USA, in other countries, there is criticism everywhere. But my message to queer people in Russia, in my country, and the rest of the world is that you deserve your place in the world. You shouldn’t be ashamed of what makes you special. Be proud of it!
Have you seen Alexander Zhulin’s comments about you? Do you want to answer to this?
Timothy: You know, I would not like to answer specifically to this opinion. I would like to convey to people like me that we are all special. I hope Ashley and I are an inspiring example for everyone. As for this comment specifically… It doesn’t matter to me. I will answer this way – try to take my joy away. I’m here now, with my wonderful partner, skating on the Olympic ice. Just try to take my joy away if you can.