Gold medal-winning Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano has announced that he’s gay, making him the third openly gay athlete sent by President Barak Obama to represent the U.S. delegation during the opening and closing ceremonies at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.
“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,” Boitano said in a statement, according to USA Today.
“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.”
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Russia has come under fierce criticism from around the world for its anti-gay policies and violence toward the gay community. White House press secretary Jay Carney evaded a direct answer when asked if the selection of three prominent gay athletes to represent the U.S. was intended to send a message to the former Communist country.
“I would simply say that that’s not a message we would wait to send through this manner,” BuzzFeed reported Carney as saying.
The press secretary added that the delegation shows “the remarkable diversity of the United States” and that President Obama finds Russia’s anti-LGBT laws “offensive.”
The U.S. delegation also includes tennis legend Billie Jean King and hockey medalist Catilin Cahow, both of whom are openly gay.
Boitano, 50, deflected questions about his sexuality in the past, but few people were surprised about Wednesday’s announcement.
Boitano won the gold medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics and also claimed the World Championship titles in 1986 and 1988. He once hosted a Food Network series called “What Would Brian Boitano Make?” and appeared in the Will Ferrell comedy film “Blades of Glory.”
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