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tv   John Curry  BBC News  February 15, 2022 1:30am-2:01am GMT

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this is bbc news, will have the headlines and all the main news stories at the top of the allied straight after this programme. when i see and i think ofjohn curry, i think of somebody who helped me see that you are the most successful when you're just yourself. growing up on the ice and in skating rinks, i would hear many wonderful stories about the artistry ofjohn curry. as a competitive skater, that would guide me right along. later in life, i would find myself in the same gay clubs here in new york city that he had frequented.
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john curry was a legend and an icon, notjust for the skating community, but for queer people around the world. curry was born in birmingham in 1949, where he grew up with his parents and two brothers. as a child, dancing was curry�*s first passion. i had asked if i could take ballet lessons. i'd been told, no, i couldn't. and then when i asked to go ice skating, i was told i could because ice skating is protected by the umbrella of "sport", you see, so it was quite acceptable. who said no? my father. that openness and the bravery and the confidence and the courage comes from a very deep place to believe in yourself as an individual, as a human being, and how you make sense of the world, and how he made sense of his relationship with the ice, which he was wanting to be a dancer and having not been allowed to do that
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by his father, being still able to do that, but in a different way, in a much richer way, was fascinating to see the resilience and the determination and the courage ofjohn curry as an individual. i think in birmingham, there were only about three or four boys in the whole city who actually did skate in what i call a serious way. you know, they actually applied themselves to it. but even as a seven—year—old, i believed i'd be very good, and that's a wonderful thing. curry challenged gender norms and broke boundaries within the sport with a style that, at the time, was seen as too feminine for a male skater. when i stopped looking like a little boy and started to look like a young man, then suddenly all the things that i had done — up until then absolutely with everyone�*s blessing and encouragement — i was told i should stop doing. i was told i shouldn't use my arms, i shouldn't do spirals. i was actually told not to be so graceful, and i couldn't understand why. and it was because they
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couldn't accept it from a young man, whereas they could from a child. he would love to use his arms and express himself to the music, and he was told not to do that. and so he felt very frustrated being told you can't do that, because he knew in his heart that's what he felt, and that's what they did in the dance world and why couldn't he do that as a skater? and i think this actually opened things up a lot for other male skaters to be more expressive. he moved in a way that i'd never seen anotherl male figure skater move, and eventually i learned i that he was really one| of the first male figure skaters to express himself that way, to move that way, - to have that refined elegance on the ice _ it was unlike anything i had ever seen before. it was so beautiful. it was so pure. and i rememberwatching it thinking, "wow, that's
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how i want to skate." it's a very balletic style, l isn't it, that you've you've brought to ice skating now? i think the only reason to do anything on the ice is because hopefully it looks good. and so that's what i do. as a young queer person, definitely, you know, when i was growing up, it was in the '90s and, you know, there was not a lot of representation anywhere. but, ithink, you know, being in my small town, like i searched for things that i could see myself in. and i think, you know, the first time i sanohn skating, it was the first time that i had seen somebody who skated like a man and they could also skate like a beautiful woman, and you were just watching, like, a human perform in a way that best expressed music. he was a trailblazer. at the time, when i was young, i didn't realise that, _ you know, i was a part- of the lgbtq+ community, but i knew that i had _
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something in common with him. i knew that i wanted to skate like he did, i to have the lines that he did with his arms and his legs, i and just the absolute technical perfection that john curry- was all about. john curry was such a pioneer and such a role model in so many different ways. breaking barriers, engaging with dance choreographers, bringing musicality in a new way to an art form, which was very much pure sport to begin with, being lgbtq and a role model in that sense and pioneering and breaking through and it not being about what a person was, but who they were in their own self and celebrating those ideas and those traditions and being so revolutionary and so brave and risk—taking. because john was doing something that he trulyj believed in and truly loved and it was his absolute - passion, people saw that - and they felt that, you know, and he inspired so many skaters, you know, - especially male skaters. this boy is born to perform.
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he is all sparkle. and i think that as humans, on a very molecular level, we enjoy anyone who is enjoying the moment that they're in. it's very apparent that he is a true artist on the ice. - you know, he has an artistic soul in that he expresses i himself in a way that goes beyond just sport. - i think that classical style j of skating still permeates a lot of the sport today. it was said on the commentary that you've brought a new concept to figure skating. and, of course, you've added this aesthetic approach on top of the agility that it clearly needs. now, it seems that a few years ago, the judges weren't particularly impressed by that sort of thing, but you seem to have won them round. now, why do you think that is? well, i think it's because i kept plugging away, really.
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they weren't particularly interested when i first started, and of course, i tried to put the whole thing in a way that they would understand it a little better. i was always absolutely stony broke, and i used to earn £13 a week, which meant that i had a pound left over to do with as i would, which, you know, even then didn't go terribly far. and i lived a really... you know, i was very, very poor. in 1974, curry made his move to colorado. with the help of a generous donor, he was able to put all of his energy into his skating. but when competition season was over, he would come here to the west village. with its vibrant nightlife, this is where he felt most himself. archive: curry won't be coming back to britain. | there just aren't the - opportunities back home. he'll turn professional and try
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to build an ice dance group. l those plans are still vague. there are, at the moment, i more pressing preoccupations forjohn curry. do you think you could win this thing at the olympics? i hope so. do you think so? i don't know. it's very hard. it's very hard to say. i think i have as good a chance as anybody else. olympics. by the 1976 season, curry was at the peak of his career in the sport. he dominated in europe, and for the first time, started beating skaters from the eastern bloc. he won the european and world championships, but most importantly, became olympic champion. well, the gold medal| is there at last, john. how do you feel about that? i feel great about it. it's wonderful. i'm very happy. it's taken a long time. curry became the first great british man to win the olympics in figure skating, and his score was the highest score ever given during the era
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of the 6.0 scoring system in figure skating. there is such a grin on his face because he knew it was better than the european championships, and there was no way that he wasn't going to be the gold medallist in that moment in time. you have that feeling, and it was a very honest moment forjohn, and i think for those of us that knew his performance style and the way he was and how guarded he could be. even though he was performing brilliantly, it was... was very telling. i learned to do a triple loop by myself. no—one ever told me how to do a triple loop. ijust did it. i did a very nice double, and after i'd been doing that for a year or so, ithought, "well, there's no reason on earth why i shouldn't do a triple." when he did the triple jumps and the double jumps, he just made them look so effortless. and then you looked at other competitors making these huge preparations into these jumps. triple jumps were a definite necessity back in my-
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day and injohn's day. those three triples - and those triples that he performed were textbook. you can go, you can watch people and you can use i people as an example. withjohn, you could use his footwork, his choreography, his style, hisjumping technique, his - spinning technique. all of these things you could use as a teaching tool. - that doesn't happen very often. he was a tortured soul, and i think the actual competing was a difficult thing for him. and it just all came together in 1976, and certainly, you know, inspired the next generation of robin cousins and then ourselves, for sure. you could tell it was worked on, you could tell it was - finessed, and that's what made it so incredible. _ i've always said that ifjohn hadn't done what he did and i hadn't been able to observe to a certain point, myjourney over the next three years to come to 1980,
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the season of '79—�*80 would have been slightly different. every time i kind of doubted . myself, i did always think back tojohn curry and what he did and how different it was. - and i think because of all- of the work that john had done, it gave me the opportunityl to be able to feel and think bigger than myself. personally, i find it very hard to think that our sport would be where it is now, and certainly for the men's figure skating of the world, ifjohn curry hadn't been a part of the legacy that has created the world for myself and future champions to take over. but he wasn'tjust making news on the ice. just a day after his olympic victory, a reporter published quotes from curry in an interview where he spoke openly about being gay. the world's focus shifted from his beautiful skating to his sexuality. i, at the time, thought
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if i said to a journalist, "this is off the record," that it meant that they wouldn't say anything about it. and i also, at the time, thought that if a journalist said that he'd written a piece that didn't have anything to do with a certain subject, whether it would be sex or whatever, that in fact was what he'd written. well, of course, that was not the case. and so, just at the one time where i would have liked for once, you know, i'd done it right. it upsets you clearly. a lot of people said that i "came out at the olympics", but i didn't. you know, i never intentionally set out to make a statement. and, of course, then having done it, i'm not going to turn around and say, a, it's not true or, b,
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that i think it's wrong or i'm ashamed of it or anything else, which is not the case. i had simply allowed myself to be, if you will, conned by a journalist who then i didn't realise, you know, that they do what they can to get their story. all of that attention of of his olympic glory was taken away from him about the sport because it became this big thing that, oh, he was a gay athlete. i couldn't imagine being at the top of my game, going into the olympics, you have that one shot, you have 4.5 minutes to showcase your talent, but then to have the pressure of knowing that somebody is going to be outing you of your sexuality in a time where in a lot of places in this world being gay was illegal. the pressure wasjust incredible. it must have been really hard for him competing i because i know he struggled with nerves as well, - but competing and otherl people, rumours, gossip. "is he gay?" or, you know, why is he moving
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his arms like a woman- moves her arms when he's doing his programmes? i and, you know, just little things like that must - have been huge pressure. i can't imagine how afraid he must've felt. and i can't imagine how scary it was back then, but it's something that... know, because of john curry, because ofjohn being an out man in figure skating and in the public eye, it's something that, you know, changed my life, and it's something that, because of him, i feel like i was able to be able to do that myself, too. i do not take for granted - that the era that i've grown up in and the country i have grown up in has afforded me to feel. safe enough and afforded me the freedom to tell my storyl the way i did.
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and i think it'sjust awful. that he was outed like that, but it wasn't for nothing. you know, his story, despite it not being told on his terms, i like, that still resonates and still inspires. - it comes down to howjohn coped internally with it, which, of course, we never found out until much later. and he coped, from what i could see, extremely well and very graciously. there were no tantrums. it's what it was. and i think for all of us coming forward and going forward, you speak your truth or you speak your honesty, and it didn't change who he was as a person to him. and it certainly didn't
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change who he was ever going to be as a performer. he made that very clear. he allowed athletes, especially within figure skating, _ to trust who they were, - to be able to be who they are without feeling the judgment. you know, ithink, growing up, i knew something - was different about myself. i wasn't quite sure what it was. - and i think if there were more role models when i was a kid, j you know, more john currys, i more robin cousins within our sport, it would have been a lot easier to identify- with who i was. you know, i wasjust looking, you know, there was seven out athletes in sochi. there was 16 in pyeongchang, and now there's over 35, so i mean, it's growing exponentially and we needed those trailblazers, all of the athletes that are out now. we needed those trailblazers from those generations that,
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you know, made that difficult choice or they didn't make that difficult choice, but somehow their story got out one way or another. he had more plans after his olympic victory. i always wanted to be able to present skating, professional skating or skating in general in a way that i had not seen it presented. i realised that the only way i'd have the opportunity to do that was by proving myself in the most visible and accepted way, which is by winning the olympics. and i did reallyjust set out to do that in order to have the opportunity to do what i did later. he was able to have the most wonderful ice shows in wonderful theatres, which was incredible. it wasjust really like his
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dream came true, but he worked so hard to get there. he played the met in. new york of all places. he played the albert hall. it was the first time l that they ever had ice inside the albert hall, and it brought - skating to a new era. it really changed the sport on a professional level. i when we were in new york, we had diana ross, baryshnikov and lots and lots of famous choreographers from the dance world came, and it was very interesting for them to see some skaters on the ice dancing. the competition wasn't the reason he skated. i for him, it was the art i of being a dancer, if not a ballet dancer on ice. so, the thing that i'm really trying to do is to extend skating. i'm trying to extend it choreographically, musically and artistically. that's really what my show is about. in the late 1980s, the aids epidemic was affecting
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millions around the world. curry had been diagnosed with hiv in 1987, and by 1991, it had progressed to aids. john curry returned to the west midlands and spent his final years with his mother, rita, before passing away at the age of 1m. john's openness to his hiv status really set the groundwork for normalising what hiv as we know today is about. obviously, we lost millions of our community and people worldwide to this horrible virus _ i did have an uncle who was gay who was banished from the family when he was 16 years old, and he passed away of hiv when i was 16, 17 years old and it broke my heart. i didn't quite understand what was going on at that point because he was really never spoken about within the confines of our immediate family, but i remember
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being absolutely heartbroken hearing of his passing because he died without knowing the love of his own mother. and it's heartbreaking to think back to john's era, and thankfully his family accepted him, but a lot of the people that he loved the most, that created the sport, thatjudged the sport, just didn't want anything to do with it, and it'sjust really sad. i mean, eitherway, i what have you done? i mean, you haven't invented penicillin, i you haven't cured cancer, you haven't built- an old people's home, - you zoomed around the ice. is what you do really - of any importance at all? it's only important because things like skating or any kind of performance that brings people pleasure are really some of the things that, if you like, make life worth living. i know that sounds terribly corny, but it does. some things have to lift you or move you or, you know,
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make you feel very happy or even very sad or something. they have to make you feel something, and i'm very glad that i've been able to make some people feel something with my skating. i think that's great. he made it in a way that, like, yes, i can be part of the lgbtq+ community, but that doesn't take anything away from how good i am at this. and i think sometimes a lot of queer people have felt that they can be successful despite this. and that's all anybody - could ask for as a performer and a champion. who are you able to influence and where can you see - what you have brought. to your sport unknowingly being passed on to the people who have taken it to _ the next step? and there is no question that john's legacy is embedded i in a lot of figure skating. when i see and i think ofjohn curry, i think of somebody who helped me see
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that you are the most successful when you're just yourself. so, thank you, mrjohn curry, thank you for letting me know as a little kid that it was ok to use my arms when i skate. thank you for being a trailblazer for the queer community and for the skating community. you taught us not to just perform for the world, but to perform for ourselves. and thank you for letting me be the queen that i can be on the ice.
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hello there. a very powerfuljet across the atlantic will pick up areas of low pressure and deepen them into storms later this week. notjust one named storm, but two are heading our way. before this very windy weather arrives, we'll find some spells of rain, again, coming infrom the atlantic, you can see all that cloud that's pushing in from the west. and, after a wet start in scotland in the morning, we'll see that rain pushing up toward the northern isles. we've got this rain pushing its way towards southeastern parts of england, where it could stay a bit wet into the afternoon. but away from here, many places will brighten up — there'll be some sunshine, a few showers, mainly
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in scotland, where they could be a bit wintry in the hills. it will be a slightly cooler day here, but again, elsewhere, we'll find temperatures up to 9—10 celsius. it does cloud over in the afternoon in northern ireland, and that cloud will continue to thicken into the evening. rain soon arriving, and that rain will push its way quickly eastwards overnight. could be a bit more snow perhaps over higher parts of northern scotland, it'll still be quite cold here, but elsewhere it should be fairly mild, the rain having cleared away by wednesday morning. but it's only a brief respite because we'll find more rain coming in from the atlantic, mainly affecting northern and western areas of the uk. and ahead of that rain, it'll be extremely mild on wednesday across more southeastern parts of the uk, temperatures at 17 celsius. but the winds will be strengthening through the day, and they will continue to strengthen as we head into the evening and overnight — that's because storm dudley is arriving, it races to the north of scotland with the strongest winds to the south of the storm itself. and, whilst it'll get very windy in most areas, this is where the core of strongest winds is expected to be. this is where we have
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this amber wind warning from the met office — gusts of 80mph or so could bring some damage and some disruption, as well. the winds do gradually ease during thursday as the storm races away. we've got a few showers and some sunshine, some wetter weather in scotland, a mixture of rain and some snow to higher levels, as well. temperatures around 6—7 celsius here, highs of 12 in the south east of england. things get windier, though, as we head towards the end of the week. the next named storm — this is storm eunice — this area of low pressure will deepen. there's still a lot of uncertainty about the track, but it'll bring some very windy weather to much of the country, particularly so across england and wales. and further north in the colder air, particularly in scotland, there's likely to be some snow and some blizzards.
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welcome to bbc news. our top stories. western officials say russia has mobilised enough troops to be able to invade ukraine at "the drop of a hat" — ukraine's president remains defiant. translation: they tell us that february the 16th will be - the day of the invasion. we will make this into unity day. so, what's motivating the kremlin, and what do ordinary russians think? we'll go to moscow to find out. also in the programme: canada's prime minister invokes emergency powers to try to end the protests against covid measures — they could extend to the freezing of protesters bank accounts. this is about keeping canadian
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