SOCHI, Russia (AP) — He promised himself something the first time he ever laced up a pair of skates. It's the same thing Johnny Weir returns to in those quiet moments most evenings, just before the TV camera's "on-air" light flashes red.
"I'm wearing makeup, a double necklace and a cream sweater," he said. "I don't feel an obligation to tone myself down.
"Part of being afraid is not knowing," Weir added, "and I know Russia. I don't feel afraid."
At the moment, of course, it's easy to feel that way. Air-time is still a few hours off and he's sitting on a brick-red banquette inside a posh, Western-style hotel alongside his broadcast partner, former Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski.
The two became fast friends soon after NBC paired them last fall. They've had a soothing effect on one another every day since.
"We want to be 80," Lipinski said, "and still commentating on figure skating with each other."
He constantly fusses over her, straightening the collar on her jacket or making sure every strand of blond hair is in place. For her part, every time they step out in public, Lipinski instinctively links her arm inside his, as though they've been a couple forever.
"I'm proud to be here," Weir began again. "I'm proud that I can be here in my necklaces and my wedge booties, and nobody is saying anything. Nobody is looking at me weird, nobody is saying anything derogatory. I honestly get more of an uncool situation walking down certain streets in Manhattan or being in the center of our country.
"And so, as far as people being upset with me for being here," Weir added, referring to those in the LGBT community who demanded he boycott the Olympics to protest a tough anti-gay Russian law, "I want everybody to know that I'm proud being here and I'm proud to be representing gay America in my own small way."