Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 09 June, 1997

ICEBREAKER:
The Autobiography of Rudy Galindo

The Book Nook by Jesse Monteagudo


 

ICEBREAKER: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RUDY GALINDO; By Rudy Galindo with Eric Marcus; Pocket Books; 255 pages; $23.00.

Gay author Eric Marcus has made a career for himself as the co-author of books by gay athletes.

First it was STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART, by bodybuilders/lovers Rod and Bob Jackson-Paris. Then came BREAKING THE SURFACE, Olympic diver Greg Louganis' best-selling memoirs. ICEBREAKER tells the against-all-odds story of another gay success story, that of figure skater Rudy Galindo. But while Louganis accomplished his victories in the closet (both as a gay man and a HIV-positive man), Galindo never denied his sexuality.

ICEBREAKER tells the story of Rudy Galindo's long and winding road to the 1996 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held as if by ordained by Providence in Galindo's home town of San Jose, California. Born on the wrong side of the freeway (1969), Galindo's childhood was scarred by poverty, his mother's mental illness and his father's frequent absences. His career as a youthful skater led to an award-winning

partnership with Kristi Yamaguchi, which ended when Yamaguchi decided to go solo. To many, Yamaguchi's defection seemed to mark the end of Galindo's once-flourishing career.

The early nineties were not kind to our hero. During these terrible years Rudy lost his father (to a stroke), his brother George (to AIDS) and two of his coaches (also to AIDS). All this led understandably to a period of drug abuse and self-destructive behavior that almost cost Galindo his career and his life as well. However, thanks in part to his sister Laura -- who became his coach when nobody else would -- Rudy got himself back on track, an amazing comeback that culminated in the 1996 National Championships.

Though professional figure skating is a hotbed of homosexuality, Galindo is the first champion skater to be openly gay. Though Galindo's revelation is hardly earthshaking -- Rudy is rather effeminate, as he admits in his book -- his honesty is a breath of fresh air that is sadly lacking in certain other skaters (and you know who they are). Still, Galindo was not ready to become a gay spokesman; as he admits in his book, "I'm not ... setting myself up as some sort of role model" -- for gays or Latinos. Galindo's reluctance to wave the gay flag led to unwarranted criticism from gay activists and a nasty incident in a San Francisco gay bar. But here, as elsewhere, Rudy Galindo was only being himself.

ICEBREAKER reads like a novel, though much more exciting because it's the truth. Galindo and Marcus are very honest about Galindo's faults and follies, from his less-than model youth -- that kid could be such a bitch -- to his drug abuse and his recent arrest for drunk diving. Though being national champion made Rudy a celebrity -- a mixed blessing in itself -- it did not lead to a world championship. Nor did it lead to great riches or -- as of this date -- to a relationship. The turmoil of his post-championship career made Galindo's controversial decision to become a professional skater both natural and understandable.

In his autobiography Rudy Galindo is quick to acknowledge Greg Louganis for paving the way: "after reading Greg Louganis' autobiography, I learned a lot about what an important position I was in as an openly gay competitive athlete, and how important it was for me not to appear as if I were in any way ashamed of or embarrassed by my sexual orientation." As a skater, Rudy Galindo does not occupy the paramount position Louganis holds as a diver -- other male skaters have done better and will do better than our hero. Nor will ICEBREAKER achieve the best-selling success that BREAKING THE SURFACE did, partly because neither Galindo nor his book made the headlines that Louganis and his book did. Still, even if Rudy Galindo's best days are behind him, he will always be a hero to those who call him their own -- lesbians and gay men, Mexican- and other Hispanic Americans, and the good people of San Jose California.

IN BRIEF:

PRIVATE NATION by N.A. Diaman; Persona Press; 128 pages; $10.95.

Old timers might remember N.A. Diaman as the author of ED DEAN IS QUEER, his 1978 takeoff on the Anita Bryant phenomenon. Since then Diaman has written several other novels, the most recent one being CASTRO STREET MEMORIES (1988).

After almost a decade's silence, Diaman is back with PRIVATE NATION, published, like its predecessors, by Diaman's own Persona Press. This futuristic fantasy -- written in Diaman's own unique style -- follows two gay young men's adventures through a chaotic, post-industrial, 21st Century California, a world that's very different but also very similar to our own. Though not up to par with his earlier books, PRIVATE NATION will delight old fans of N.A. Diaman and introduce him to a new generation.

1998 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission e-mail gaytoday@badpuppy.com