The United States delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics will feature three athletes who are openly gay.
Brian Boitano, a gold-medal-winning figure skater in 1988, said in a statement today that “being gay is just one part of who I am.” Boitano, 50, had declined until today to speak about the issue, preferring not to discuss his private life. On Tuesday, he was named by President Obama to the U.S. delegation along with Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, both of whom are openly gay. He released this statement today:
“I am currently skating in Europe but want to provide a statement regarding my appointment to the Olympic delegation. I have been fortunate to represent the United States of America in three different Olympics and now I am honored to be part of the presidential delegation to the Olympics in Sochi. It has been my experience from competing around the world and in Russia that Olympic athletes can come together in friendship, peace and mutual respect regardless of their individual country’s practices.
“It is my desire to be defined by my achievements and my contributions. 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. I am many things: a son, a brother and uncle, an athlete, a cook, an author and being gay is just one part of who I am. First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”
The naming of now three gay athletes to the delegation was seen as a message from the U.S. to President Vladimir Putin in light of Russia’s strong laws about “gay propaganda.”