An Interesting “Gay” Experience

This year I once again attended the Dorothy Hamill Adult Figure Skating Camp, and my friend Cathy came over from England to attend with me!

This year I once again attended the Dorothy Hamill Adult Figure Skating Camp, and my friend Cathy came over from England to attend with me!

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, like last year, I am going to be writing more personal blogs during the month of December. This blog is about an eye-opening encounter at the Grand Canyon of Arizona this past October.

Once again in 2015, I attended the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp (a most wonderful experience) in Scottsdale, Arizona. This year, a traveling and hiking friend from the UK (United Kingdom), Cathy Swift, came across the Atlantic to attend. Since Cathy had never been to Arizona, we stayed over an extra four days and I drove us to some of the treasures of Arizona including Jerome, Sedona and the Grand Canyon. While at the Grand Canyon, we had an interesting encounter.

While strolling along the “South Rim” somewhat away from the main tourist area, we met another sightseer all the way from Korea. He initially asked us for some directions in terms of the right way to proceed, where the next shuttle stop was along the rim, etc. We did assist him somewhat and then chatted about other things – our professions, his time in the States, etc. He was quite impressed that I had received my MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and complimented me on my niceness for assisting him with directions and intelligence for my educational credentials. I even joked about the awesome song and video “Gangnam Style” (link) which was a huge hit in the US and worldwide in 2012. And he continued to sort of follow us around to keep up the conversation.

My British friend Cathy Swift on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where the interaction in this blog took place

My British friend Cathy Swift on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where the interaction in this blog took place


I do not recall how the conversation turned to politics, but we then talked about the interesting candidates running for both the Democratic and Republican presidential nomination. I mentioned the candidates I liked because of their support for equality for all American including LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) citizens.

There was an immediate and obvious change in the countenance of the Korean gentleman! He asked if being gay or lesbian was not sinful given Biblical scriptures. I then started to share how there could be different ways of viewing and interpreting scripture verses often applied to condemn LGBT people. He then stated “I guess you must know more than me about this,” and walked away and avoided us for the rest of the short hike. It was quite shocking how his perception of me as helpful, friendly and intelligent quickly shifted to that of being an undesirable person.

My friend Cathy was shocked. For more than 40 years, she has been involved in professional and community theatre, during which time she, her colleagues and friends have interacted with countless LGBT people. She told me that she had never witnessed such an interaction before, and now she has seen first-hand how LGBT people can be misunderstood and treated as “less than” by others.

Yes, it is indeed sad that still in today’s world, people are judged based on their sexual orientation or gender identity instead of being appreciated for their full human qualities.

Yes, It Does Take a Village – My Figure Skating Journey, Part 2

With my coach Paula McKinley after competing in the Dogwood Open in Raleigh this past June.

With my coach Paula McKinley after competing in the Dogwood Open in Raleigh this past June.

This blog entry contains many links worth exploring as well as an announcement at the bottom about my next public skating appearance.

Like last year, once again I am going to earmark December as my month for writing a few more personal blog entries. Last December, I wrote about “Finding a New Passion at 59” about starting my journey to become a competitive adult figure skater. I do want to share some progress as well as some learning points.

Things are progressing along fine, and my goal is to qualify to skate in US Adult Nationals in April, 2017 when it is held for the first time in my home state of North Carolina. I will need to train rigorously and pass four different skating skills tests in front of a set of official US Figure Skating judges. And I owe a lot of my progress thus far to both a series of helpful individuals as well as a community of supportive people. Yes, it does often indeed take a village to accomplish a personal goal; I could not have gotten as far as I have without teaching, coaching, support and inspiration from others.

On the individual side, I need to thank my coach Paula McKinley. She has been extraordinarily patient with me starting with my first tentative steps of the slippery ice to progressing through various skill levels. She insists on proper technique from the start so I do not develop bad habits, and she employs the perfect mix of correction and praise. When I do something incorrectly, Paula does have me do it over and over again until I get it right, and will often demonstrate for me my incorrect skating in an exaggerated style, which of course horrifies me but also causes me to smile. And when I train hard between lessons and then demonstrate that I have indeed learned what she has taught, she is quick to give me praise and a hug. Finding a great coach who meshes with your own style and requirements is indeed critical.

I also appreciate the physical support and assistance from my off-ice flexibility coach Eileen Juric (who is nationally known ballet and dance instructor), my physical therapist Caitlyn Espy of the Trinity Wellness Center, and my massage therapist Dennie Michele from Massage Envy at North Hills (Raleigh.)

Again in 2015 I am inspired at the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp

Again in 2015 I am inspired at the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp

In addition to these individuals, I have been inspired by a host of encouraging groups. I am cheered on by the members of the Central Carolina Skating Club of Hillsborough, NC where I am coached and also the friends from the Skating Club of North Carolina, as well as at the Raleigh IcePlex and the Polar Ice House of Garner where I regularly practice. And for the past two years, I have attended the Dorothy Hamill Adult Fantasy Figure Skating Camp in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dorothy Hamill and her coaching team are fantastic with inspiring and teaching each camper, and we become a family encouraging and supporting each other.

In addition I appreciate local friends and family, many Facebook friends who are very supportive and the US Adult Competitive Figure Skaters Facebook group with its excellent conversations and advice.

Yes, I have learned that achieving a goal does take hard work, but is so much easier and enjoyable with individual and team support – it does indeed take a village, or should I even say an extended supportive global community!

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NOTE: My next skating exhibition will be at the Raleigh Iceplex, 2601 Raleigh Blvd in Raleigh, NC, Friday December 11 at 6:30PM. Admission is free!