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It sounds like a movie," says Larcom, now 30, talking on the phone from the Toyota Sports Center rink in Los Angeles, where he coaches figure skating and hockey."Growing up straight in a dominantly homophobic and homosexual sport was hard for me and for them," he adds.By the time the men returned home, the popular perception of figure skating had changed: "It was no longer seen as something appropriate for men to do," says Mary Louise Adams, professor of sports sociology at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and author of .Efforts to protect (and project) the macho reputation of male skaters have been under way for decades, and skating clubs and organizations tried to lure boys by playing up the masculinity of the sport and virility of its athletes. "Lots of boys sign up for skating because they want to wear sparkly costumes," says Adams.The common assumption that male figure skaters are gay - and the latent and often blatant hostility behind it - is the sport's deep and dirty secret.It colors the attitudes and actions of skaters, coaches, judges, officials and even the fans.Canadian champion Brian Orser was publicly outed by an ex-boyfriend in a palimony suit in 1998. And Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist, never intended to reveal his sexual orientation until President Obama appointed him, along with openly gay tennis legend Billie Jean King and openly gay ice hockey Olympian Caitlin Cahow, to the American Olympic delegation for the Sochi games.Obama's move was a provocative reproach to Russia's new anti-gay law propaganda law that looms over what's set to be the Weir, the two-time Olympic figure skater and three-time U. champion who retired last fall, defied this prejudice and solidified his place as figure skating's gay darling by showing, not telling.

Canadian figure skater Matthew Hall came out in 1992. champion Johnny Weir came out after competing in the 2010 Vancouver games, it seemed more like a formality.

That sniggering stereotype has been prevalent for decades, even though few elite skaters have come out publicly, and only one, Rudy Galindo, came out during his Olympic-eligible career.

This closet door is locked tight because skaters - gay and straight - know that so many of the people judging them, from judges to sponsors to TV viewers, want the female skaters to be "pretty ladies," and the men to be, well, And that's not how life, on or off the ice, works.

"I thought, You're playing with sticks, but I have this girl who I can lift and throw.

Larcom went on to train as a member of Team USA and, in 2001, he won the junior national pairs skating championship.

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