QUEER VOICES
12/19/2013 02:10 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Figure Skater Brian Boitano Comes Out As Gay Ahead Of Sochi Olympics

Figure skating legend and Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano has come out as gay ahead of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

"It is my desire to be defined by my achievements and my contributions," Boitano said in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. "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," he continued. "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 announced he is gay Thursday, Dec. 19, days after being appointed by President Obama to the Olympic delegation heading to Russia for the opening ceremonies on Feb. 7. When the appointment was first announced, the SF Gate referred to Boitano as a "prominent gay athlete," even though he was not out at the time.

He will be joined by openly gay tennis legend Billie Jean King and openly gay ice hockey Olympian Caitlin Cahow.

Obama's move to appoint multiple openly gay athletes was viewed as a message to Russia, which has come under fire around the globe for its social rights violations after the passage of the "homosexual propaganda" bill this summer. Many have chosen to boycott the Sochi Games because of this.

Boitano snagged the gold medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics. He previously had a Food Network series called "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" and appeared in Will Ferrell's 2007 film, "Blades of Glory."

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