News

Olympic skater Brian Boitano comes out ahead of Sochi

Olympic skater Brian Boitano comes out ahead of Sochi

BRIAN BOITANO: Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano is leaping in the air, touching his skates during the free skating competition on Feb. 20, 1988 in Calgary, Canada during the XV Winter Olympics. Boitano won the Men's Figure Skating Championship, giving the US its first gold medal. Boitano becomes the third openly gay athlete named by President Barack Obama to the U.S. delegation, joining tennis great Billie Jean King and Olympic ice hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow in drawing more attention to Russia's controversial anti-gay laws. Photo: Associated Press/John Redman

(Reuters) – American Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano said on Thursday he is gay, making the announcement two days after being named to the official United States delegation to the Sochi Winter Games.

“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,” said Boitano, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist in a statement. “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.”

Boitano becomes the third openly gay athlete named by President Barack Obama to the U.S. delegation, joining tennis great Billie Jean King and Olympic ice hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow in drawing more attention to Russia’s controversial anti-gay laws.

Their selection is being widely viewed as a rejection of Russia’s laws which include a ban on the spread of homosexual propaganda among minors.

The laws have been criticized globally in the buildup to the Winter Games, which open on February 7 in Sochi.

The White House added to the symbolism when it announced neither the president, the first lady or Vice President Joe Biden would be attending the Sochi Games.

Instead, the U.S. delegation will be led by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Boitano, who represented the United States at three Olympics, will attend the opening ceremonies along with King.

“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,” added Boitano. “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.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Gene Cherry, Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)

Recent Headlines

4 hours ago in Local

Dems Slate Two Candidates for Fall Election

vote

Democrats have slated Robert Spencer of Pleasant Plains to run against Don Gray for Sangamon County Clerk, while Circuit Clerk Paul Palazzolo will face opposition from Donnie Killen of Springfield.

4 hours ago in Local

Redfield: Capitol Has Similar, But Different, Feeling

ILLINOIS POLITICS 7-24-15 Mike Lawrence and Kent Redfield

University of Illinois Springfield Political Science Kent Redfield says in some ways, it actually feels like lawmakers are getting toward the end of the legislative session.

4 hours ago in Local, Sports

Nunn Dismissed from U of I Basketball Team

university illinois

The University of Illinois has dismissed junior guard Kendrick Nunn from the basketball team following his guilty plea to misdemeanor domestic battery.

4 hours ago in Local

Informant Suggests Drew Peterson Wants to Sell Drugs

FILE - In this May 8, 2009 file photo, former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., for his arraignment on charges of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife Kathleen Savio. On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, Will County Judge Edward Burmila sentenced Peterson to 38 years in prison for Savio's murder.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Secret recordings between Drew Peterson and an inmate he's accused of trying to enlist to help kill a prosecutor show that the former suburban Chicago police officer discussed selling drugs in Mexico if he gets out of prison.

4 hours ago in Local

Two Die in Separate ATV Accidents

medical

Illinois State Police say an 11-year-old has died in an all-terrain vehicle crash in eastern Illinois' Clark County.