Brian Boitano: 'I've Never Been Ashamed of Who I Was'
The Olympic figure skater, who came out as gay in December, suggests that gay athletes be careful when they get to Russia
What finally made Brian Boitano come out?
Turns out, President Obama had something to do with it.
During an appearance on Thursday’s Today show, the figure skating gold medalist – whom the president recently appointed to the U.S. delegation for the 2014 Sochi Olympics – said: “When the president named the delegation and I read in the news what his message was, of tolerance and diversity, I thought, ‘I have to take this opportunity.’ ”
“I think the message is so strong,” added Boitano, 50. “I always wanted to represent my country as best I could. And I knew that I had to go past my comfort zone and reveal a private side of my life that I’ve never done before because I felt that the message is so strong.”
During the interview – Boitano’s first major sit-down since he announced on Dec. 19 that he is gay – Lauer candidly admitted, “Can I say, and please don’t take this the wrong way, I wasn’t shocked.”
Boitano laughed and agreed that he has never hidden his identity.
“First of all, the reaction has been fantastic and really supportive, but I never really felt that I had to [come out],” he said. “I have always been a private person. I’ve kept my private side of my life special for family and friends who really knew me. I’ve never been ashamed of who I was, I’ve always been open with them.”
Boitano said he doesn’t feel he needs to make an additional statement against Russia’s anti-gay laws once he and the delegation arrive in Russia for the Feb. 7 Opening Ceremony.
“You know, I think we have to be careful once we get over there. I think the statement is already being made by us being on the delegation and [tennis legend] Billie Jean [King] and [hockey medalist] Caitlin [Cahow] and us standing together united as gay people showing that there is freedom of speech and we are successful human beings and athletes – and I think that that speaks measures.”