Figure skater Brian Boitano on Thursday came out as gay in a statement in which he discussed his selection to be part of the U.S. delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“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,” said Boitano. “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’s announcement comes two days after the White House announced he would join retired tennis champion Billie Jean King, former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and presidential advisor Robert Nabors at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February. Lesbian Olympic ice hockey champion Caitlin Cahow is among the five-member U.S. delegation that will attend the games’ closing ceremonies.
Neither President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama nor Vice President Biden and his wife will travel to Sochi amid lingering concerns over Russia’s LGBT rights record.
“First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance,” said Boitano, who had previously faced questions about his sexual orientation. “As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”
French President François Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck and E.U. Commission Vice President Viviane Reding have also said they would not attend the Sochi games. Gay Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and Flemish Premier Kris Peeters earlier this week made similar announcements.
Boitano won a gold medal for figure skating in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
He placed sixth in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.