By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com December 19 2013 2:35 PM ET
American figure skating star and Olympic champion Brian Boitano announced Thursday that he is gay and that he felt honored to represent the U.S. in the official delegation to the Sochi Olympics in Russia.
Boitano said he hopes that the Sochi games will encourage "friendship, peace, and mutual respect," as Russia's government continues to enforce laws punishing LGBT people for perpetuating supposed propaganda.
"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. "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."
Boitano, 50, is currently skating in Europe and has competed in three separate Olympic Games. He joins out Olympic hockey player Caitlyn Cahow and tennis icon Billie Jean King, among others, in the delegation representing the U.S. in Sochi.