McCall was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He moved to Toronto when he teamed up with Tracy Wilson.
McCall competed with Marie McNeil early in his career. They were the 1975 Canadian novice silver medalists, 1977 Canadian junior national champions, 1978 & 1979 Canadian senior bronze medalists, 1980 silver medalists, and the 1981 national champions. They placed 13th at the 1980 World Figure Skating Championships and the 1981 World Figure Skating Championships.
Following that season, McCall teamed up with Tracy Wilson and skated with her until his death. They were the 1982-1988 Canadian national champions and three-time World bronze medalists. They placed 8th at the 1984 Winter Olympics and won the bronze medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
They turned professional in 1988 and skated professionally together. They toured with Stars On Ice, and won the World Professional Figure Skating Championships in 1989.
In 1988, Wilson and McCall were made a Member of the Order of Canada.
In March 1990, McCall became critically ill with pneumonia in Portland, Maine while touring in a show with Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt, and was diagnosed with AIDS. He initially kept the nature of his illness a secret because he hoped to be able to continue to skate professionally in the United States, which at that time had restrictive immigration and customs laws barring persons with AIDS. However, his health deteriorated and he died of AIDS-related brain cancer on November 15, 1991 at age 33.
Karl-Heinz Schindler/German Federal Archives. Robert McCall and Tracy Wilson in Berlin, 1985
For all the controversy surrounding the media's airing of the AIDS crisis in their midst, many of the world's finest skaters turned out For Skate the Dream, a benefit in November 1992 in Toronto that honored the memory of Canadian skater Rob McCall. The event, featuring such stars as former Olympic gold-medal winners Katarina Witt, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano and Kristi Yamaguchi, raised some $500,000 for AIDS research at the Toronto Hospital. The show of support was also an emotional balm for McCall's mother, Evelyn. The night before the benefit, which her son had helped plan even as he lay dying, she awoke in her hotel room and felt compelled to go to the window. "The mist was rising, and it was sort of illuminating the street lights," she recalls. "I saw all these red and yellow blinking lights, and I thought, This is like an arena.'
"Then I felt Rob by me, and I just sort of broke down. Tears were streaming down my face, and I couldn't move. I don't know how long it look, but cars started moving, and I became aware again. I went back to bed and prayed. That's the first time I've been able to pray since Rob died."
For the performers themselves, the benefit was the beginning of a recognition that AIDS has hit skating hard—and that the stricken need their help and understanding. "We wanted to show that because someone is HIV positive, you can't put them aside," says Katarina Witt. "They are part of us. We are a community."
Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies by Maureen Fitzgerald and Scott Rayter
Paperback: 500 pages
Publisher: Brown Bear Press (September 1, 2012)
Amazon: Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies
In this remarkable and comprehensive anthology, many of Canada's leading sexuality studies scholars examine the fundamental role that sexuality has played -- and continues to play -- in the building of our nation, and in our national narratives, myths, and anxieties about Canadian identity. Covering both historical and contemporary perspectives on law and criminal justice, organising and resistance, health and medicine, labour, education, marriage and family, sport, popular and youth culture, and visual media, these essays also integrate marginalities such as race, class, and gender. This massive interdisciplinary collection is essential for the Canadian sexuality studies classroom, and for anyone interested in the mythologies and realities of queer life in Canada.
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