Fewer people have impacted the sport of figure skating in the way that Brian Boitano has done. The American great not only won numerous laurels in the course of his career but also invented a new jumping technique, known as the Tano Triple, and spearheaded a change in eligibility rules for professional figure skaters.
Another community that has felt Boitano’s impact is the LGBT community. Ever since the figure skater came out as gay in 2014, he has never shied away from issues affecting his kind thus serving as an inspiration for many in the world. Boitano is certainly a living legend and all his accomplishments can be traced back to his days as a little boy growing up in California.
A Love that was Inspired by a Variety Show
Brian Anthony Boitano was born on the 22nd of October 1963 in Mountain View, California. He had his education at Marian A. Petersen High School, Sunnyvale, and fell in love with figure skating at the age of eight. This was after watching a performance of Ice Follies, a popular variety ice show which toured different parts of the U.S.A.
After seeing Ice Follies, Brian Boitano purchased an ice skate and began skating in earnest. He also joined a private skating class, run by a lady named Linda Leaver, and his natural aptitude and talent for the sport stood him out. Ms. Leaver thus began mentoring him and would go on to remain his coach throughout the professional and amateur stages of his career.
Brian Boitano commenced his career at the 1977 National Junior Championships and emerged tops in the competition. He did not allow this early taste of success to distract him. Rather, he worked hard and five years later, in 1982, made history as the first athlete in his country to do a triple axel at the national championships. He also became the first athlete in skating history to complete all six different triple jumps in the world championship.
Some of the Titles that Brian Boitano Won During His Career
Brian Boitano won numerous titles in the course of a glittering career. They include the U.S. National Championships (four times – 1985 to 1988), The World Championships (twice – 1986 and 1988) as well as five titles at the World Professional Championships. The Olympics is the highlight of every athlete’s career and Boitano was no different. He represented his country at three different Winter Olympics – 1984, 1988, and 1994. He won gold at the 1988 Olympics defeating his arch-rival, Canadian Brian Orser, in the process.
Apart from the accolades he won, Brian Boitano is also revered for spearheading changes that have been beneficial to future generations of figure skaters. Before 1993, skaters who had turned pro were barred from going back to the amateur circuit which included the national and world figure skating championships as well as the Olympics. Boitano spearheaded the campaign to remove this restriction and the rule was changed in 1993. This feat as well as his trophies made him a figure skating legend and contributed to his induction into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, America Figure Skating Hall of Fame, and The National Italian American Hall of Fame.
Coming Out of the Closet on his Own Terms
Brian Boitano has always been gay but he never felt the need to publicize that aspect of his life. He only told his closest friends and families as well as some of his fellow figure skaters and found ways of avoiding the issue whenever it came up in public conversations. Such reticence was not borne out of shame or feelings of doing anything wrong. Rather, it came with the times that Boitano grew up in. At the height of his reign in the 80s and 90s, society was still very conservative and as such, admitting that one was gay could lead to loss of endorsements and sponsorships.
It could also lead to the loss of followers as fans of figure skating were mostly females who wanted to know that their idol was going to settle down and have a family someday. All these factors contributed to Boitano keeping his mouth shut on his sexuality for several years. The legendary figure skater was however motivated to come out of the closet after he was appointed as a member of the official US delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. Before that Olympics, the host country of Russia had grown increasingly homophobic and had even passed a national law banning gay propaganda.
Such did not sit well with many countries and they thought of boycotting the games altogether. They, however, realized that this would be a sort of defeat and rather choose to send a strong message to the Russians. For the USA, they did this by appointing several gay athletes as their ambassadors to the games and Boitano was one of them. Having seen what was at stakes, the retired figure skater realized that he could no longer be on the fence and released a statement in December 2013 stating that being gay is just one part of who he is. Since that bold statement, Brian Boitano has firmly stayed outside the closet.
He has discussed his sexuality with several TV personalities such as Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan. He has also served as an ambassador of Athlete Ally, an organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ sports equality. The California native has meanwhile revealed that he cherishes the feeling of being free and open about his sexuality. Such openness has however not extended to his love life and as such, Boitano has never shared any of his romantic liaisons with the public. The only hint we have gotten was his rumored relationship with singer and actor, Frank D’ Ambrosio. It, however, turned out that they were just business partners and friends.
A Look at Some of the Olympic Champion’s Recent Endeavours
Brian Boitano called time on his figure skating career in 1994 and since then, he has gone on to become a major TV personality in his motherland. He hosted his own cooking show, titled What Would Brian Boitano Make, on Food Network between 2009 and 2010. The Olympic champion also did a home improvement show on HGTV in 2014 which saw him restore a dilapidated ancestral home in Italy.
Boitano also scored cameos in movies such as Ice Princess and Blades of Glory whilst appearing on other Food Network shows. The California native has however scaled back his TV work in recent years but still continues to make the occasional public appearances, especially for a good cause. For instance, he attended the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus 41st Gala Fundraiser in April 2019. He also appeared on the ABC series, What Really Matters, to discuss skating, family, and personal life in February 2020.