as we all celebrate adam rippon and his brilliant performance this past week for the figure team competition at the winter olympics in pyeongchang, i want to remind the universe of the fabulous rudy galindo, a latinx HIV positive gay man who queered the figure skating world more than 20 years ago.
after winning a few junior championships, rudy got a taste of national success skating with kristi yamaguchi, when they won the US national championships in both 1989 and 1990. their partnership soon ended as kristi began her very successful career as a solo skater. rudy’s solo skating career was quite the opposite.
although surviving extreme poverty, rudy’s family had sacrificed everything to support his dream as a figure skater. during the late 80s and early 90s, rudy struggled personally as two of his coaches and his brother George succumbed to HIV. his sister laura became his coach.
after taking 8 months off from competing, the 1996 US championships were taking place in his hometown of san jose, california. rudy decided to give his skating dream one more shot and decided to compete. he would skate one of the most beautiful and most remembered long programs ever.
with thousands of people cheering for him, rudy became the oldest US national champion. he became the first out national champion. he became the first mexican-american national champion. that night, rudy became a gawd damn legend!
rudy would go on to win the bronze medal at the world championships. he retired from competing soon after but still skated professionally and chyle, he gave you performances! in april of 2000, he disclosed that he was living with HIV. he skated to “ soon in the clowns” soon after.
“HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence. you can go out there and do what you want.” rudy galindo. he has become an HIV advocate and now coaches kristi yamaguchi’s daughter. and despite not initially having the support of the skating world, rudy is now celebrated as a pioneer.
fun fact: when i was in the hospital w/ a t-cell count of 100, the woman i shared a room with, in an attempt to make me feel better, said, “you know who rudy galindo is? he is so lovely. like you, so lovely.” that shit still stays with me. “if he can survive this, so can you”
much like rudy, i survived and found that place over the rainbow to shine.
we celebrate you, rudy!