For some skaters, the skating world offers a way of growing up in which it's not only okay to be gay, but in which there are so many like-minded others that sexual orientation is not a traumatic issue. A skater since the age of 9, David Hicks came of age as an amateur competitor, show skater, and coach before retiring from the sport.
Back when the skaters were still called "amateurs," David competed in Novice men in 1974. His second trip to Nationals came in 1977, with best friend and Junior pair partner Danelle Porter. They won their first-ever competition . David always knew himself to be gay, and never considered himself to be in the closet.
Over the years, David was coached by Judy Westerlund, Hope Cuny, Richard Garrett and Jim Hulick, and credits them all with being nurturing teachers. Hulick, who was nationally known for coaching Rudy Galindo and Kristi Yamaguchi to becoming pair champions before he died of HIV-related complications, introduced Hicks to the wonders of ballet training. Already predisposed to ballet because of admiration for balletic skating idols John Curry and Peggy Fleming, David took up dancing full-time.
He eventually danced professionally with the Oakland Ballet. When the Oakland Ballet didn't renew his contract, David returned to the ice after five years and joined the Ice Capades, happy to bring what he had learned from the world of ballet and theatre back to figure skating. David called the atmosphere at the Ice Capades very supportive of gay skaters.
After three years in the Ice Capades, David felt he needed a new challenge. He moved on to coaching, and particularly enjoyed the mentoring aspect. He was openly gay, and found that both the skaters and their parents "were more concerned with quality coaching than my sexuality."
As someone in the Bay Area skating community, his path crossed Rudy Galindo's more than once. Galindo's late coach Ricky Inglesi was David's favorite show skater, and David himself coached in one of Galindo's training rinks.
Now retired from the sport, David looks on some changes - such as the elimination of figures - with mixed feelings, but welcomes skaters such as Lu Chen, Michelle Kwan, and Lucinda Ruh who are "pulling the focus back to creativity and artistry," in the tradition of David's idols and contemporaries such as Janet Lynn and Starbuck and Shelley.