Brian Boitano -- a gold-medal-winning figure skater and member of the U.S. delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics -- announced Thursday he is gay, making him the third gay member of the delegation to travel in February to Russia.
The 50-year-old Boitano, who has deflected questions about his sexuality in the past, said in a statement Thursday that “being gay is just one part of who I am.” On Tuesday President Obama named Boitano to the delegation along with Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, two openly lesbian star athletes.
“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,” Boitano said in a statement published by USA Today. “First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”
The very makeup of the delegation has appeared to send a clear message about the administration's dissatisfaction with the Russian government on a range of foreign policy and human-rights issues, including the treatment of gays. President Obama, Vice President Biden and the first lady will not attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi.