Brian Boitano skates at the Izod Center on Dec. 11, 2013 in East Rutherford, N.J.
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Brian Boitano comes out as gay

Updated

Brian Boitano, an Olympic gold medalist in figure skating and newly appointed member of the U.S. delegation to the 2014 Winter Games, announced on Thursday that he is gay.

“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,” Boitano said 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.”

The 50-year-old’s announcement makes him the third openly gay member of the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which has come under fire ahead of the Games for a series of newly enacted restrictions on gays and lesbians. One such law bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.”

In what has been viewed as a strong signal of opposition to the Kremlin’s treatment of its LGBT population, President Obama on Tuesday appointed tennis star Billie Jean King, and ice hockey player Caitlin Cahow–both out lesbians–to the delegation, leaving out any member of his family, cabinet, or “presidents club.” This will be the first time since 2000 that the opening ceremony will not include a U.S. president, vice president, first lady, or former president.

Jansing & Co. , 12/19/13, 12:29 PM ET

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Brian Boitano comes out as gay

Updated