A Few Words about John Coughlin (1985-2019)

If you asked me yesterday what I thought of John Coughlin, I would’ve said, “He’s the sweetest person ever! He’s a great commentator and always sees the best in skaters. Honestly, can we get him on NBC to replace Tara and Johnny?”

Yesterday morning when I woke up, my biggest fear was that I would pass out during my vaccination shot. In the evening, I caught up on Canadian Nationals, talked to my online friends, and watched Thor. It felt like a normal day. It didn’t feel like a day someone was going to die.

Until a few hours ago, I didn’t know anything unusual was going on with John Coughlin. I didn’t know that he had been suspended from US Figure Skating by Safesport over unclear allegations. And I didn’t know he had committed suicide.

First of all, I send all my love to his family, friends, acquaintances, and fans. If you ever need a place to talk, my message box on Twitter is always open.

This news is so shocking to me that I can’t put it into words. In all the years I knew John through the skating community, I never once suspected him capable of anything less than honorable. And to be clear: he was not explicitly accused of any particular wrongdoing (unlike Andrew Lavrik, who was clearly suspended for sexual misconduct). But it still casts a suspicion inside me that I can’t shake, and it scares me. A friend of mine was sexually assaulted for years by someone her family trusted, and I would never want to be that person who didn’t believe someone.

I wish I could say that he was the sweetest soul I ever knew, and that he is on his way to heaven to be with his mother. I wish I could tell everyone all the good things he did in his life and all the people he touched with his light. Because from all appearances, he truly lit up the skating world with something special.

But I know that people who seem kind can kill. I know that people who seem harsh can be good. I know that there is no black and white. And I know anyone can commit a crime.

Six months ago, we lost Denis Ten, and my heart still hurts for him. But at least with Denis, I knew how to feel. Right now I’m so confused. I know I’m rambling, but these thoughts keep spinning in my head.

A year ago, I had a similar feeling: someone I admired was accused of something horrible, and I didn’t know what to believe. It took me a long time to accept that this person, who I loved dearly, may have done something I couldn’t condone, or may not have, and I would never know the truth. I hope the investigators can quickly clear this up so we can know what really happened.

Only God can judge what is true and what should be done. It’s out of my hands. I pray somehow this will all be made right, but I don’t know how this will ever make sense to my brain.

I mourn for the man who gave positive, encouraging commentary on the sport he loved; who was Gracie Gold’s number one supporter on her comeback trail; and who, for some inexplicable reason, liked my tweet about my coming-out story. I don’t know if that man was real or just a facade, but I miss him.

John, I want to believe you. I want to remember you as that optimistic, good-hearted person I always believed you were. But I don’t know if that man really existed.

I wish I could understand. I wish there were answers to these questions in my head. But some things will go unanswered. In the meantime, I have no choice but to find peace.

I’m sorry for this confusing and unedited post, but I needed to write this down. My heart is with everyone in this difficult time.

2 thoughts on “A Few Words about John Coughlin (1985-2019)

  1. The news of John suicide brings out a lot of emotions in all of us.

    Good people do bad things. Nobody is perfect. As a victim myself, I have become a firm believer of Restorative Justice.

    Liked by 1 person

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