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Boitano, Brian   (b. 1963)  
 
page: 1  2  

Both of "the Brians" skated superbly in the short program, and so victory in "the battle" would go to the winner of the long.

Fans were treated to superlative performances by both men and then briefly left in suspense as their extremely close marks were sorted out. Four of the nine judges gave higher scores to Orser, three gave them to Boitano, and two scored them even. A tie-breaking rule had to be invoked. Under that, the competitor with the higher technical number got the vote of the judge in question, and, in both cases, Boitano had a slight edge. The former "technical robot" had combined athleticism and artistry to win Olympic gold.

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Boitano retired from the amateur ranks after the Calgary Games and then added five World Professional Championship victories to his record. He also began appearing in television specials, including Carmen on Ice, for which he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance in Classical Music/Dance Programming in 1990.

In the early 1990s there was considerable controversy about what constituted amateur versus professional status in various sports and in different countries--an important question for the Olympics since, at the time, only people recognized as amateurs were allowed to compete. In 1992 Boitano requested reinstatement of his amateur status so that he could try to make the United States team for the Games in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994.

Boitano's petition was successful and established what was then known as the "Boitano rule." Under it, varous other skaters were also allowed to compete, including Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov of Russia.

Boitano won a spot on the Olympic team, but an unusual miss on a triple jump cost him, and he did not reach the medal podium in Lillehammer, where he finished in sixth place.

Still, Boitano's mark on figure skating is indelible. In 1996, he was inducted into both the United States and World Figure Skating Halls of Fame.

After the Lillehammer Games, Boitano again retired from the amateur ranks. He founded a company, White Canvas Productions, to develop skating shows both for live performances and television specials. More than twenty specials produced by White Canvas have been broadcast.

Boitano had achieved such fame as a skater that he was used as a character in Trey Parker's 1999 animated movie South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. In it, he is portrayed as a superhero, "fighting grizzly bears" and "evil robot kings" from the future, among other feats. One of the songs from the film is "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" The Boitano character has also appeared occasionally on the South Park television series.

After his retirement from skating, Boitano developed an interest in cooking, especially Italian cuisine because of his ethnic heritage. He became proficient enough as a chef to land his own show, What Would Brian Boitano Make?, which debuted on the Food Network in 2009 and ran for two seasons. Boitano subsequently published a cookbook with the same title in 2013.

Amid controversy regarding the persecution of glbtq people in Russia, on December 17, 2013, Boitano was named to the Presidential Delegation to attend the Opening Ceremony at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The fact that President Obama (along with President Hollande of France, Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, and President Joachim Glauck of Germany) declined to attend the games himself or to send high-ranking government officials was interpreted as a rebuke of the Russians and their anti-gay policies.

When it was revealed that two openly lesbian athletes--tennis legend Billie Jean King and two-time ice hockey Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow--were in the delegation, the selection of the delegates was also interpreted as further evidence that President Obama selected the delegation with the intention of sending a message of support for gay and lesbian athletes.

In this context, two days later, Boitano came out publicly as a gay man. He issued a statement that read in part "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, an uncle, a friend, 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."

The news that Boitano is gay came as a surprise to almost no one. Boitano had assiduously avoided addressing questions about his sexual orientation, but speculation that he was gay had been rife for years. Indeed, in reporting on the delegation going to the Sochi Games, blogger Carla Marinucci of SFGate (the on-line site of the San Francisco Chronicle) named the "two prominent gay athletes" among their number not as King and Cahow, but as King and Boitano.

Michael Petrelis, a glbtq rights activist whom Marinucci interviewed for the piece, made comments implying that he, too, was under the impression that Boitano was openly gay.

It is unclear whether the open secret that Boitano is gay was a factor in his appointment to the American delegation or whether the appointment was a factor in Boitano's subsequent decision to come out publicly.

Linda Rapp

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    Bibliography
   

Brian Boitano Bio. Cooking Channel: http://www.cookingchannel.com /chefs/brian-boitano/bio.html.

Gold, Michael. "Brian Boitano Announces He's Gay before Sochi Olympics Trip." Baltimore Sun (December 19, 2013): http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/gay-in-maryland/gay-matters/bs- gm-briano-boitano-announces-he-is-gay-before-olympics-trip-20131219,0,536536.story.

Jenkins, Sally. "Boitano's Perfect Ending Gives U.S. First Gold; Orser Again Takes Silver in Figure Skating." Washington Post (February 21, 1988): D1.

Jordan, Pat. "The Second Time Around: In 1998, Brian Boitano Won Olympic Gold. In January, He Won the Chance to Try Again. Now, His Hair Receding and the Frontrunner Status a Memory, the Best Athlete in a Generation of Skaters Jumps Back into the Olympic Spotlight." Los Angeles Times (February 13, 1994): 12.

Marinucci, Carla. "White House Picks LGBT Icons to Open Sochi Olympics--Pressure on Russian Gay Civil Rights?" SFGate (December 17, 2013): http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2013/12/17/ white-house-picks-lgbt-icons-to-open-sochi-olympics-pressure-on-russian-gay-civil-rights.

Swift, E. M. "Double the Pleasure." Sports Illustrated (January 27, 1988): http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1066992/index.htm.

Wilker, Deborah. "Ice Gold: Far from Getting Cold Feet about Another Run at Olympic Glory, Brian Boitano Is Firing the Afterburners." Sun Sentinal (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) (May 25, 1993): 1E.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Boitano, Brian    
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2014  
    Date Last Updated January 6, 2014  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/boitano_brian.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
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