Figure skater and Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano has announced that he is gay, making him the third openly gay athlete to represent the U.S. at the Sochi Winter Olympics as part of the official White House delegation to the event.
Boitano, who in the past deflected questions about his personal life, said in a statement on ABC news website that "first and foremost" he was an American athlete, "proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance."
"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," Boitano said on Thursday, two days after it was announced he would represent the U.S. at the Sochi Games.
Two other openly gay athletes on the nine-person delegation are tennis player Billie Jean King, a 39-time Grand Slam title winner and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and hockey player Caitlin Cahow, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist.
Invoking a traditional diplomatic expression, White House officials said this week the absence of the U.S. president and first lady from the delegation was due to their busy "schedules." White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday that the administration did not need to send a covert message to Russia because it had already expressed its views explicitly.
"The president has been very clear that he finds it offensive, the anti-LGBT legislation in Russia," Carney said. "And we take very clear and strong stands on that issue, as well as the curtailment of civil society in Russia, as well as the harassment caused to those who protest corruption in Russia."
In his statement, Boitano said he hoped the Olympic participants and viewers "can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."