Photo courtesy Kathleen McGill
"To me, Shaun's great beauty came from inside. He was everything a parent could want and hope for. He showed a tremendous strength, helped me see other ways of life and not to be judgemental and showed us all what true love was. Not once did I ever hear him complain and all he asked for was laughter and smiles, not sad faces. I know I'm stronger because of him and I try to be a better person because of him. I always enjoyed watching him skate." - Kathleen McGill
Shaun appearing as Carabosse in "Sleeping Beauty On Ice"
McGill passed away on March 23, 1991 at the age of thirty, leaving behind his parents, partner, two brothers and coaches Jack Raffleur, Louis Stong, Bruce Lennie and Mrs. Ellen Burka. An ailing John Curry wrote, "hard to believe that one so full of energy and spark should be dead". Nathan Birch recalled him as "one of the most inventive, artistic skaters of all time, and he really inspired younger skaters to push the envelope a bit and be more experimental." His former competitor Gordon Forbes recalled him as "a wild man; sad but funny, and incredibly talented." In a December 13, 1992 interview with the Calgary Herald, his mother Kathleen said that she hoped his legacy would live on and that "when people think of Shaun and Brian [Pockar] and Rob [McCall] and Dennis [Coi], I hope they forget AIDS and remember them for what they did for skating and for other people. They never did anything to make us ashamed. We`re very proud of them."
I never met Shaun McGill. I was eight years old when he passed away. However, as a young gay man who grew up skating in Canada in the era of Elvis Stojko pumping out quads yet looking to the Toller Cranston's of skating - the artists - as who I wanted to emulate, I can't help but personally feel some connection to Shaun McGill's story. I would have loved to have met him!
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