Amber Glenn: America’s bi/pan skating star on coming out and breaking through | Figure skating

“What’s your sexuality?”

Amber Glenn regarded up from the questionnaire at her therapist sitting throughout from her in a brown leather-based chair, immersed in her authorized pad. Glenn thought again to all of the occasions she and the opposite determine skaters had huddled collectively at one finish of the rink, chattering concerning the boys they noticed gliding previous. Glenn questioned why she thought a number of the ladies that handed have been simply as lovely? Why did she her abdomen flip-flop when sure ladies have been round her? Was it OK that she felt this manner?

Glenn took a deep breath and scribbled one thing down that she hadn’t revealed to anybody in her life – not even her mom.

“I feel I’m bisexual,” the 15-year-old Glenn wrote. “What do I do?”


The therapist’s eyes darted down the paper till she paused on one line, her lips pursing as if somebody had simply held a lemon wedge to them.

“You’ve got sufficient to take care of proper now,” she stated dismissively, scarcely wanting up. “It doesn’t matter.”

Glenn went numb. For years, she’d been struggling to behave as delicate and female as the opposite skaters, each on and off the ice. She’d even pretended to be quiet and shy to suit into the field anticipated of her in a conservative sport, although everybody instructed her she had the persona of a golden retriever. She wished solutions, however all she felt was embarrassment.

“I felt like I’d been shut down,” she instructed the Guardian. “I had thought this was my probability to get somebody to clarify it to me. I didn’t carry it up once more for a very long time.”

Fortunately, Glenn had the thoughts to know that what she felt did matter, not solely along with her well being and happiness, however along with her skating profession. When she took silver at US nationals final month in Las Vegas, the 21-year-old Glenn turned the primary ever out LGBTQ girl to succeed in the rostrum within the competitors’s 107-year historical past. And now that she has the vaunted triple axel bounce in her arsenal, Glenn has one thing that appeared unobtainable six years in the past – a critical probability to creating the US workforce for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Amber Glenn stole the present with a surprising free skate at US nationals in January.

Plenty of kids from Plano, Texas – the Dallas suburb the place Glenn was born and nonetheless lives at the moment – dream of skating within the Olympics. The Dallas Stars chain has six rinks within the space alone, to not point out the spattering of privately owned services run by world-class coaches. Glenn first took the ice at age 5, when she was taken along with her youthful sister and three cousins to the native mall’s rink for classes.

Glenn was an exceptionally quick skater out of the gate. “You wanna race?” a precocious nine-year-old Glenn requested the hockey gamers, blonde ponytail all the time bobbing in movement. At 10, Glenn stayed up previous her bedtime twice every week and danced to the Excessive College Musical soundtrack underneath flashing coloured lights and a shimmering disco ball, basking within the consideration she bought from the opposite skaters that stopped to look at her. She all the time felt like she was flying.

As a competitor, Glenn was a power of nature, an ideal stability of upbeat showmanship and sturdy leaping abilities.

“I used to be out there in full-on pageant make-up, full with this blue glitter eyeliner that my mom utilized thick and this extensive, bug-gets-in-my-teeth smile,” Glenn stated. “I used to be as outrageous and further as a nine-year-old might be.”

The choice was made early on to home-school Glenn, so she may practice a number of occasions a day. Glenn noticed her friends on the rink, however their priorities have been a lot completely different than hers. Whereas different ladies volleyed for the boys’ consideration, Glenn perfected her double axel. As her friends navigated their first crushes, Glenn was gunning for junior nationals. Glenn received the America’s most prestigious junior title in 2014, two years earlier than her first kiss at age 16 – with a male skater she admired extra for his on-ice potential than anything.

Regardless of what her therapist stated, Glenn knew she was additionally drawn to ladies. {The teenager} turned to on-line searches, and settled on the time period “bisexual”. At age 17, Glenn kissed a lady for the primary time and felt simply as dizzy as if it had been a boy. That’s when she knew for positive.


“Did you kiss her?” Glenn’s sister requested within the kitchen one evening when she returned from one other date, not figuring out their mom was in earshot. Glenn’s mom was stunned – not that her daughter was courting ladies, however that an Olympic hopeful’s packed schedule allowed time for courting in any respect.

2017 was additionally a pivotal 12 months for Glenn’s skating profession, marked by a change in coaches and rinks. There she met Tim LeDuc, an brazenly homosexual pairs skater and future 2019 nationwide champion, who turned Glenn’s confidant and mentor. LeDuc got here out as queer in January 2019 after years of holding up a façade himself.

Amber Glenn
Amber Glenn performs on the 2017 Cup of China in Beijing. {Photograph}: AFP Contributor/AFP/Getty Photographs

“There’s a stage of authenticity that you just’re all the time grappling with when you possibly can’t be the whole lot that you’re on a contest stage,” stated LeDuc, who pairs with Ashley Cain, one other shut ally to Glenn. “It takes a certain quantity of vitality to verify and modify your self to be sure to’re becoming into no matter hetero-normative or hetero-patriarchal framework that you just’re coming into into in an athletic or aggressive house. It takes plenty of braveness to interrupt from that.”

Although it wasn’t deliberate, Glenn got here out as pansexual, which is how she describes her sexuality now, in an interview with the Dallas Voice praising LeDuc in December 2019. That month, Glenn additionally launched a girlfriend to her household for the primary time. Buoyed by newfound confidence, Glenn positioned fifth at US nationals in January 2020, her greatest end to that time.

Glenn’s revelation has raised curiosity amongst followers greater than anything, notably as a result of she got here out as pansexual.

“‘Bisexual’ is the go-to time period that everybody understands and is snug with,” Glenn stated. “However somebody might be born a feminine and determine as a male or the opposite approach round. I’m drawn to the particular person [first]; not what’s beneath their garments. Pansexuals are gender-blind.”

Regardless of a worldwide pandemic that restricted coaching time and led to a truncated aggressive season, Glenn arrived at 2021 nationals in January on a full head of momentum. Having not tried a brand new bounce in years, she tried the triple axel within the brief program – however her palms touched the ice upon touchdown and her rating was deducted, inserting her in fifth place after evening one.

The next evening, Glenn got here prepared for battle. Her eyeliner was drawn into a pointy cat’s eye, like struggle paint. Her armor was a vibrant ombre-blue costume. Glenn hadn’t scheduled the triple axel in her free skate, however she didn’t have to. Her jumps have been clear and her step sequences have been passionate and purposeful. When the rating that assured her first senior nationwide medal flashed onto the display screen, her palms rose to to cowl her mouth in astonishment.

Glenn was named an alternate to the world workforce to compete in Stockholm in March, one other first, the place the outcomes will decide the variety of skaters the US can be sending to subsequent 12 months’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. To make that minimize, Glenn is relying on touchdown the triple axel with some type of regularity subsequent season to realize the wanted scores and the federation’s confidence. She plans so as to add the troublesome bounce, which solely 4 People and 15 ladies total have landed in competitors, to each her brief and lengthy packages. .

“She’s honed that final piece of the puzzle, which is bringing, underneath stress, to the ice that skater that we get to see each day in apply: that sensible, mild, charismatic skater,” LuDec stated. “She’s extra in tune with herself. She’s extra assured and she’s simply actually in a position to carry all that she is to the competitors stage now, which is so enjoyable to look at.”

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button