Former Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano, who was named this week to the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, announced today that he's gay.
"I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am," he said in a statement released from Europe where he is currently skating.
"First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance," Boitano said in the statement. "As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."
President Barack Obama on Tuesday named Boitano to the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia, along with tennis legend Billie Jean King, who is openly gay. Caitlin Cahow, an Olympic silver medalist and bronze medalist in women’s ice hockey who is openly gay, was named to the official delegation for the closing ceremony.
Boitano has previously declined to discuss his sexuality, and said in the statement he still values his privacy.
"While I am proud to play a public role in representing the American Olympic Delegation as a former Olympic athlete, I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so," he said.
The composition of the delegation is viewed as a direct rebuke to Russia, whose recent anti-propaganda laws are widely viewed as anti-gay.
White House Press Secretary Press Secretary Jay Carney refused Wednesday to say whether the makeup of the delegation was meant as a slap at Russia.
"I think that this delegation represents the diversity that is the United States," Carney said. "Every member of that delegation is extremely accomplished, either in government service or in civic activism, or, most especially, in sports."