Colin Grafton Creates New Life in London

After competing for the U.S. at the World Junior Championships, Colin Grafton has now found success in London as a professional skater on the show "Dancing on Ice" while learning to embrace his identity.  

Above: Photo courtesy of ITV
By Jillian L. Martinez

Colin Grafton is a former Team USA pairs skater, who won the junior bronze medal at the 2012 U.S. Championships with partner Kylie Duarte. Duarte and Grafton then went on to place eighth at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2012. These days, Grafton is involved in new pursuits fueled by different interests and a desire to be true to himself. He is currently a cast member of the popular British television show "Dancing on Ice" and lives in London.

Colin and his partner Kylie skate holding hands with one leg extended behind them. Kylie is wearing a blue skating costume and Colin is wearing a matching long sleeve top and black pants
Grafton competed for the U.S. in pairs with partner Kylie Duarte. Photo courtesy of Ksenia Fomina. 

Originally from Boston, Grafton started skating in 1998 after watching Tara Lipinski win gold at the Olympic Winter Games Nagano 1998. According to Grafton, he quickly became obsessed with the sport at that point. However, it was the honor of playing a young Scott Hamilton in a 2001 Stars on Ice performance in Providence, Rhode Island, and meeting Lipinski and Hamilton, that ignited his passion.

Grafton competed in the sport until 2013 when he then started to ponder whether or not to pursue other opportunities within the sport. 

“[By 2013] I was at a crossroads and wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue pursuing competition or try new endeavors,” shared Grafton. “By chance, I was asked to do a professional show in Mexico, and the rest was history.”

Grafton ended up touring for about seven years until the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world. During that time, he served as a lead skater on several European tours and dabbled in coaching.

By the end of the pandemic, Grafton began talking with professionals from ITV about joining the "Dancing on Ice" cast.

“'Dancing on Ice' is something I’ve always wanted to do after learning about the show,” Grafton said. “I’ve always wanted to live in the UK, too, so now living in London is like a dream come true.”

Since 2006, the hit show has paired celebrities with professional figure skaters. Each week, the pairs perform an ice dance routine in front of a panel of judges known as the Ice Panel. The Ice Panel scores are then combined with a public vote to determine the highest and lowest ranked couples.

Olympic champion ice dancers, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, serve as head judges on the show. The show’s cast has also included notable skaters such as two-time Olympic champion Katerina Witt and former Team USA skater Karina Manta.

“It’s incredible to skate with the legends like Torvill and Dean,” said Grafton, who is currently on a break from the show and touring with Fantasy on Ice in Japan. “My favorite part of the show is being able to be a part of incredible professional performances, but, also, seeing the reward of hard work. You literally teach a celebrity from the ground up how to skate and see their progress over the course of a few months in front of millions of people. There’s nothing quite like it.”

Colin skates while holding the hand of his partner, drag queen The Vivienne. Colin skates wearing a long sleeve pink shirt and The Vivienne has bright red hair and is wearing a nude colored skating costume with sparkles
Grafton competed on "Dancing on Ice" with drag queen The Vivienne. Photo courtesy of ITV. 

One of the biggest and most historical moments for the show was when Grafton was paired with the first drag artist to be cast on the show, RuPaul Drag Race’s The Vivienne. The Vivienne, whose real name is James Lee Williams, and Grafton placed third on the 15th season of "Dancing on Ice." The same-sex couple were applauded by audiences for their representation on national television.

“[It was] such an honor,” Grafton told Pink News earlier this year. “...Being a part of that team, it was just wonderful. The support we got from everyone was just fantastic. If I’m being honest, I didn’t really understand the impact that it would make in the end.”

In the same article, Grafton discussed what it meant to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community and be out as a “proud gay figure skater.”

“I wasn’t hiding anything before [the article]. I just didn’t talk publicly about my private life,” Grafton explained. “I’m at a place in my life where I’m happy and confident with who I am.”

Like many elite skaters, Grafton did not have time for dating or relationships due to his training commitments. It was not until he was 24, a few years after he retired from competitive skating, that he was able to explore his identities and have his first real relationship. Around that same time, Grafton came out to his family and close friends as gay. Now, at 32, Grafton is still on a journey to learning more about himself but is ready to authentically be himself to the public.

“It’s nice that I can be my full true authentic self with everyone,” said Grafton. “Your sexuality does not define you as a person, rather it’s one part of who you are as a human being. But, if me being honest with my sexuality on a public platform can help someone else on their journey then that makes me feel very happy.”

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