Woke up to news that Toller Cranston has left this world, suddenly, unexpectedly.
Indeed, Toller was a champion; flamboyantly artistic, magnificently weird and out there. I remember his Russian split jumps, nobody could Russian split jump like Toller. And we loved him, even as we sat there in the flickering winter dark slightly weirded out by his (don’t say it) gayness, we could not deny his power. So, in my little farming community, we bandied his name about all through the winter, as if compelled. His soaring flights burned in our minds. Nobody could do what he did, so, in some terrible way, his bronze finishes were our own. He symbolised how the world saw us – Canada, farm people, small towners, any community or person who can never quite be acknowledged as they wish, even though the fire of greatness burned high.
He was (don’t say it, because someone might think it’s the gay thing you mean, not the greatness) one of us.
I was so sad to read http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/01/24/toller-cranston-canadian-figure-skating-legend-dead-at-65/ Debbi Wilkes’ recounting of Toller in tears, saying ‘nobody understands.’ Sad, because we understood – even us bushbillies who were a million miles away from the glitter of figure skating rinks, who followed it all on Skate Canada, we understood, we just were too frightened to embrace the genius. What we didn’t understand was ourselves, and that gayness is not contagious.
God rest you, Toller, you did a power of work in this world.