TODAY   |  January 02, 2014

Brian Boitano: Gay rights statement ‘has already been made’

The Olympic figure skating legend and U.S. delegate to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Russia and talks to TODAY’s Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview after coming out as gay. Boitano says that just by his attending the Games with his team, a statement supporting gay rights has already been made.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> figure stait skating legend brian boitano is here for his first interview after being named to the delegation. good morning.

>> good morning.

>> you have been to the olympics three times as an athlete?

>> yes.

>> first time as a member of the delegation. what does it mean to you?

>> i was so honored to be asked by the white house and going through the whole veting process and being named to the delegation. it was really interesting, because i didn't know who was going to be on the dell gigs or any part of it.

>> shortly after you were named to the delegation, you did something that by your own admission you say you never thought you would do publicly.

>> yeah.

>> you came out.

>> yeah.

>> take me through the decision. why?

>> well, when the president named a delegation and i read in the news what his message was, tolerance and diversity, i thought, i have to take this opportunity. i think the message is so strong. i always wanted to represent my country as best i could. i knew 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.

>> are you now eager to take the message a step further as you go to sochi as part of the official u.s. delegation, do you intend to make a strong statement about gay rights once you get will?

>> you know, i think we have to be careful once we get there. i think the statement is already being made by us being on the delegation and billy jean and caitlin and us standing together as gay team e people showing that there is freedom of speech and we are successful human beings and athletes and i think that that speaks measures.

>> yet at the opening ceremony and you will be there as athletes march into the stadium, it's expected that some who are gay or just support gay rights will make some kind of dramatic statement, either in their words or their gestures or their clothing. do you encourage that?

>> you know what, i encourage everybody to do what they feel is best for themselves. i never thought i would be coming out in this way and you know in a matter of ten hours, i decided to do it. so thachsz what was right for me at this time. so i tell everybody that i think that they should do water right for them.

>> so let's get away from the delegation side for a second in the olympics. let's go back to the personal side. all right. what itself reaction? can i say and please don't take this the wrong way, i wasn't shocked.

>> exactly. that's what i thought. you know, the thing, i never, in the past, first of all, the reaction has been fantastic and supportive. i never felt i had to i have always bns a private person. i've keptpy private side of my life special for family and friends who really knew me. i have never been ashamed of who i was. i have always been opened with them. i didn't think there was a need. i am a private guy. i realize there is a public and a private side. i always chose to keep my sexuality private.

>> do you think this will change your life in any substantial way?

>> you know what, i don't know. i can't say for sure. honestly, things have changed so much in the last week for me. but i intend to still be a private man. just a private gay man that people know now.

>> we can't wait to see you in sochi. you are going over the day before?

>> the opening ceremonies .

>> come by, see us.

>> you want to be there with me?

>> i am broadcasting the opening ceremonies . you sit with me. i don't know. brian boitano . always great to see you. congratulations. just ahead on trending,