Brian Boitano: “I’ve never been ashamed of who I was … I’ve always chosen to keep my sexuality private’
Brian Boitano appeared on NBC’s The Today Show this morning and his recent coming out dominated his conversation with Matt Lauer.
At one point Matt said: ‘Can I say – and don’t take this the wrong way – I wasn’t shocked.’
Brian laughed because it’s kind of like Richard Simmons never coming out officially.
Still, it’s terrific when a public figure actually confirms it for the masses.
So bravo to Brian for doing it 25 years after winning the gold medal at the Olympics in 1988.
But when you think about why a public figure doesn’t come out for decades despite remaining firmly in the public eye as a television personality, my guess there is some shame involved.
Nothing wrong with that – we’ve all struggled with that. So why not just own up to it?
Instead Brian tells Matt: ‘I’ve never been ashamed of who I was. … I’m just a private guy, and I realize that there’s a public side of my life and a private side. I’ve always chosen to keep my sexuality private.’
Since Brian was selected to be part of the official US delegation to the Olympics next month in Russia, it would have been awkward for him to remain closeted. President Obama was clearly making a statement against Russia’s anti-gay laws by choosing Billie Jean King, Caitlin Cahow and Boitano.
“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,’’ Boitano said. ‘I think the message is so strong. I’ve 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.’
“I never thought that I would be coming out in this way, and in a matter of 10 hours, I decided to do it. That was what was right for me at this time, so I tell everybody that I think that they should do what’s right for them at their correct time.”
While King plans to be outspoken, don’t expect any major political statements from Boitano at Olympics.
“I think that we have to be careful once we go over there,” he said. “I think the statement is already being made by us being on the delegation and Billie Jean and Caitlin, and us standing together united as gay people showing that there is freedom of speech, and we are successful human beings and athletes. I think that speaks measures.”