America's first openly LGBTQ figure skating team is out making us proud.
On September 30, 22-year-old American ice dancer Karina Manta came out as bisexual. She did so in a YouTube video in which she, sitting next to her girlfriend Aleena Gomez, sang a cover of Vance Joy’s “I’m With You.”
The message behind the video was that Manta has been supporting the LGBTQ people because she's one of us, according to the Advocate.
Manta is now the first openly queer female figure skater to compete for Team U.S.A, and only the second openly out women in the world to skate in an upper-level competition (after Japan’s Fumie Suguri).
On top of that, Karina Manta’s partner is Joe Johnson, an openly gay man himself. This means that the two are the first recorded ice dancing team made up of two openly queer athletes.
Just three weeks after Manta came out, she and Johnson started their participation in the 2018 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series in Everett, Washington.
Adam Rippon even cheered for the two as they participated at Skate America last month tweeting, “I love my gay parents.”
For Karina Manta, coming out gave her new opportunities and possibilities. Namely, she could finally acknowledge her relationship. In the coming out video, she expressed her regret at having to hide her girlfriend for so long.
"I have dragged you back into the closet with me, and we all know closet is much too kind a metaphor," she said. "Call it a prison cell; call it a lifelong panic attack; call it being buried alive. Call it the nightmares I still get sometimes, the ones where everyone who wouldn't approve suddenly shows up as I'm kissing you."
But now that she’s out, Karina Manta has a whole world of possibilities before her. Not only can she openly experience Skate America with her girlfriend, but she can act as representation for younger athletes and LGBTQ people as well.
As she told the Advocate:
"It was nice to be on this stage knowing that there might be younger skaters, younger girls watching, and seeing that maybe they don't have to fit certain stereotypes [with me] being there with my hair all short and my girlfriend in the audience."
Skate America is still ongoing and we can't wait to see what Karina Manta and Joe Johnson can do.
h/t: The Advocate