BOSTON (AP) — Brian Boitano decided to keep his sexual orientation private until he was appointed to the delegation that will represent the United States at the Sochi Olympics.
Former U.S. hockey player Caitlin Cahow came out last month when she realized she could help athletes who were struggling with their sexual orientation.
"I think each individual has a right to define who they are," Cahow told the The Associated Press on Thursday, a few hours after the figure skating champion acknowledged publicly for the first time that he is gay. "That's what autonomy is all about."
Cahow and Boitano were chosen by President Barack Obama this week to represent the U.S. at the 2014 Games in Sochi. The decision to include openly gay and lesbian athletes — Billie Jean King also is a member — and exclude high-ranking government officials has been interpreted as response to a new Russian law banning "gay propaganda."
Boitano said in a statement Thursday that he had chosen to keep his sexual orientation private because "being gay is just one part of who I am."
"First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance," Boitano said. "As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."
"I think he and I would agree that our goal is to someday live in a world where these classifications aren't important," she told the AP. "I don't personally identify as a gay person. I understand that is my role right now. I am speaking for a lot of people, and a lot of people are looking to me to bear the torch, and represent them. I want to do my best."