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

in Local

New Illinois Schools Chief Says Funding Fix Could Take Years

Tony Smith

Smith also says charter schools should be part of the mix.

in Local

Debate in General Assembly over Civics Class Requirement

Illinois General Assembly

Bill also passed to use e-learning in Illinois schools during inclement weather.

in Local

Autism Programs Hopeful Lawmakers Will Come to Their Rescue

autism

Providers say some programs may not survive if funding is not restored.

in Local

DeWitt Co. Settlement OK’d in Dispute to Put Toxic Waste Over Aquifer

water

DeWitt county has approved a settlement with a landfill company.

in Local

Kankakee Co. Sheriff Describes Security Lapses that led to Inmate Escape

inmate_exiting_kamron_taylor

Sheriff Tim Bukowski says investigators found no inmate count had been done.