In advance of the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia, American figure skater Brian Boitano has officially announced that he is gay.

"I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am," Boitano said in a statement.

Boitano won a gold medal at the 1988 games. He hasn't competed since '94 Olympics.

Boitano's announcement comes two days after he was named by President Obama to the opening ceremony delegation that also includes Billie Jean King, the tennis legend who is openly gay. Boitano, 50, declined to discuss his sexuality in an interview for the book Inside Edge in 1995.

Boitano says he's proud to be chosen to represent the American delegation as a former Olympic athlete, but "I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so."

Boitano's announcement, and Obama's decision to appoint him to the U.S. opening ceremony delegation, are being interpreted by many as an act of strength in the face of Russia's anti-gay policies. [USA Today]