Avant-Ice at Minor Literature[s]


If I had a superpower, I would be an ice skater. I would be a genderqueer figure skater, skating eights, loops, and axels, the whole s/hebang.

An axel is a figure skating jump with a forward take off. An Ina Bauer is an element in which the skater glides on two parallel blades. Moves in the field (MIF) is the name given to elements that emphasise basic skating skills and edge control. As an EU migrant and working class queer, I am better rehearsed at controlling my edge than your average figure skater. Having controlled my edge for so long, I am MIFfed at my recent failure to purchase a competition dress through the obvious channels.

Floaty competition dresses sell on ebay from £45 (Buy-It-Now), I checked yesterday. A custom-made ice skating leotard sells for £12.99. Sellers like twirlandskate (197⋆) from Sutton are eager to sell ice skating kit, offering free Postage & Packaging. Despite their affordability, the competition dresses on ebay are not for me. They do not have my name on it (Dean). They are for persons aged 5 to 14. I’m 42. You might call it an equal ops issue.

I came late to the sports. I did not come to figure skating until I was in my thirties. As a child, I did not know the first thing about figure skating. I had not heard of Torvill and Dean, nor their gold medal performance at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics. I was a butch child. I was such a butch child that figure skating did not appeal. Age 10, I adopted the butchest name I could think of (Torvill). Heh Torvill, my friends would say. Do you want to celebrate your Geburtstag (birthday) at the Eistreff Waldbronn (Ice Rink Waldbronn)? Skates for hire, a zloty per hour? No, thank you, I replied. I was such a polite young butch. I will not hire women’s or girls’ ice skates for a zloty per hour. Nor will I be held in contempt by the skate hire attendant for hiring boys’ ice skates as a girl. I will not be referred to as Schwuchtel (faggot), λεσβία (dyke), or andersrum (queer), by amateur ice skaters and their humourless parents. Not in this European backwater, not in 1984. Despite the contemporary popularity of androgynous cultures and figures across the UK (New Romanticism, New Wave, The Associates, Bow Wow Wow, and Culture Club), androgyny never hit rural Waldbronn. Androgyny did not affect rural Waldbronn in quite the same way, rendering the hiring of ice skating boots a catch-22 situation for a 10-year-old butch. You go, I said to my friends. Have fun. Ok, bye. Age 10, I rejected ice skating for life. The rhinestoned femininity of the female ice skater and her gendered skates ran counter to my budding butch industry.

I have come to figure skating only recently, in connection with my ongoing transition. Having changed my name from (butch) Torvill to (masculine) Dean, I have turned increasingly girly and figure skatey. As a middle-aged andro-fag, I have taken to ice like a duck to water. One life event in particular worked as a catalyst for my identity U-turn, my half-pirouette in regards to figure skating. [read more]

Avant-Ice at Minor Literature[s]

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