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Topics In the News
 
Brian Boitano Comes Out
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/19/13
Last updated on: 12/20/13
 
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Brian Boitano.

Two days after he was named to the official U.S. delegation to the Winter Games in Sochi, Olympic champion figure skater Brian Boitano has publicly acknowledged his homosexuality. In a statement released by his publicist Boitano announced that "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 whom I am."

Boitano, who won the Gold Medal at the 1988 Olympics and also competed in the 1984 Olympics and the 1994 Winter Olympics, is best remembered for his rivalry with Canadian figure skater Brian Orser. The "Battle of the Brians" at the 1988 Olympics was the highlight of the two men's amateur careers. They both went on to successful professional careers and competed in the World Championships.

Orser was eventually outed via a palimony suit in 1998 and became an advocate for equal rights in Canada. Boitano, however, remained in the closet despite frequent speculation about his sexuality. He never denied his homosexuality, but he repeatedly refused to answer questions about his private life.

In 1996, Boitano was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

More recently, he hosted a 2009 Food Network show called, What Would Brian Boitano Make?," the title of which alludes to the song "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" from the 1999 animated film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

In the statement issued on December 19, Boitano said, "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."

While acknowledging his homosexuality, Boitano pointedly added that "I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so."

Boitano now joins tennis legend Billie Jean King and Olympic medalist in ice hockey Caitlin Cahow as openly gay athletes in the American delegation to the Sochi Olympics.

Their inclusion in the delegation, coupled with the absence of high-ranking government officials, has been widely seen as a strong message from President Obama regarding Russia's anti-gay laws.

Boitano's complete statement is below.

"I am currently skating in Europe but want to provide a statement regarding my appointment to the Olympic delegation. I have been fortunate to represent the United States of America in three different Olympics, and now I am honored to be part of the presidential delegation to the Olympics in Sochi. 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.

"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, and 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. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."

In the clip below, Boitano skates the short program at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.

 
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