Skater Brian Boitano Comes Out, Confuses People

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Dec. 19 2013 4:41 PM

Skater Brian Boitano Comes Out, Confuses People

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Brian Boitano (center) wins the gold medal at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Canadian Brian Orser (left) took silver, and Ukrainian Viktor Petrenko (right) won bronze.

Photo by Daniel Janin/AFP/Getty Images

Brian Boitano is now openly gay! Judging from my email inbox and Twitter feed, many people were shocked by his announcement this morning. Not because they thought for a moment that he might be heterosexual, but because they weren’t aware that until now he’d declined to answer questions about his sexuality. The last time so many people said, “I had no idea he was in” was back in 2010 when Ricky Martin declared himself “a fortunate homosexual man.”

Boitano explained that he’d stayed silent on the issue for so long—he’s now 50—because “being gay is just one part of who I am.” That’s true for all of us, of course, and since everyone in the entire world apparently thought he was gay, I’m not sure that all those “no comments” and refusals to talk to the gay press while promoting his Food Network show had the effect he hoped for. Still, better late than never.

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As Outsports pointed out, this means that 30 percent of the U.S. delegation to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics is openly gay. Three-time Olympian and 1988 figure-skating gold medalist Boitano and tennis great (and longtime political activist) Billie Jean King will attend the Opening Ceremony, and two-time Olympic ice-hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow will be at the closing bash. As Joshua Keating noted in Slate, while our delegation may be long on out athletes, no Obamas, Bidens, Clintons, Bushes, or any other internationally recognized American political figures for that matter, will be making an appearance in the land of the “homosexual propaganda” law.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

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