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Amber Glenn becomes first openly LGBTQ+ woman to win U.S. figure skating title

Amber Glenn becomes first LGBTQ+ woman to win U.S. figure skating title
Posted at 11:50 AM, Jan 30, 2024

Amber Glenn triple-axled her way into the history books this weekend at the 2024 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Glenn is the first openly queer figure skater to take the top spot at the Figure Skating Championships. Glenn has come close before (earning third place last year, and second place in 2021), but this is her first gold.

The 24-year-old champion first shared her queer identity with the public in 2019. Glenn, who is pansexual and bisexual, initially feared that coming out as being part of the LGBTQ+ community would harm her career.

“The fear of not being accepted is a huge struggle for me,” Glenn told the Dallas Voice in 2019. “Being perceived as [going through] ‘just a phase’ or [being] ‘indecisive’ is a common thing for bisexual/pansexual women. I don’t want to shove my sexuality in people’s faces, but I also don’t want to hide who I am.”

Later, in October 2023, she told the Dallas Voice that the reaction to her coming out has been largely positive.

“Luckily I’ve had a ton of support,” she said. “Everyone has become more and more comfortable and accepting of the fact, and I’ve had great experiences. Skaters have told me it has made them more comfortable in their own rink environment, and that’s all I could really ask for.”

Glenn posed with a Progress Pride flag after she accepted her gold medal. Glenn’s fans have previously displayed various Pride flags at her events, and the national champion says that seeing those flags in the audience boosts her spirit.

“At Skate America in Boston, there was a sold-out arena, and during my short program I was a few seconds early before I started my footwork,” she told Dallas Voice in 2023.  “I looked at one section, I had noticed in the crowd, and pumped my arms toward them, and they went nuts — waving Pride flags, pan flags, rainbow flags. The feeling it gave me I’d never felt before. It was one of the most uplifting, encouraging experiences of my career. I will never forget it.”

Although Glenn is ecstatic over her win, she says she wishes she had performed better. The Texas native made a few mistakes during her free skate routine, and she was certain those mistakes would cost her the title.

Amber Glenn and Isabeau Levito
AP/Sue Ogrocki

But former national champ Isabeau Levito fell three times during her free skate, clearing the way for Glenn to land the top of the box.

“It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to get my first national title,” Glenn told NBC Sports. “It was a mix of being extremely grateful for the results but also knowing I can do so much better.”

Still, Glenn acknowledges that this is a special moment not only for her, but for her peers in the LGBTQ+ community.

“Being the first openly queer women’s champion is incredible,” she said to the media. “When I came out originally, I was terrified and I was scared it would affect my scores or something, but I didn’t care. It was worth it to see, over the last couple of years, the amount of young people that feel more comfortable in their environments at the rink.”

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