Brian Boitano, who won a gold medal in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary in the men's figure skating singles competition, said in a statement on Thursday, Dec. 19 that he is gay.
Nancy Armour and Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press reported on the matter, noting that Boitano stated that "being gay is just one part of who I am."
Although Boitano handled the announcement of his sexual orientation modestly, it does come with a considerable deal of scrutiny at the site of this year's Winter Games.
The 50-year-old is part of the American delegation that is attending this year's Olympics in Sochi, Russia, per CNN.com's Kevin Liptak.
Joining Boitano are fellow gay athletes Billie Jean King, a women's tennis legend, and Caitlin Cahow, a member of medal-winning U.S. women's hockey teams in each of the past two Winter Games.
As a result of the Russian government's passage of anti-gay legislation, Sochi has attracted controversy, per CBS/AP. It is highlighted by the government's right to strip parents of custody of their children if they practice "non-traditional sexual relations."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the laws are in place to protect the children.
Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated implies that Boitano's stance could be seen as a beacon of hope for "openness and tolerance."
Speculation has mounted that U.S. President Barack Obama has sent these athletes over to Sochi to spite Putin and mock the anti-gay laws that are in place.
Acceptance should be at the foundation of this issue, and influential athletes such as Boitano and others who have the courage to stand up to this adversity will help the effort to strive for that evolutionary ideal.