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04/19/2007


NBC's Harry Smith Sits Down with Andy Cohen and Brian Boitano to Talk about Gay Rights, Russia: VIDEO

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'Meet the Press' correspondent Harry Smith sat down with Bravo's Andy Cohen and figure skater Brian Boitano to talk about Russia, its anti-gay laws, and the Olympics.

Cohen commented on his decision to turn down a hosting gig at the Miss Universe pageant late last year:

"It seemed very disingenuous of me to go to Russia and do a travelogue about what a great time the pageant queens had in Moscow - what a wonderful city - when I could be stoned in a square for throwing out a gay flag."

Boitano is putting a lot of faith in the International Olympic Committee given the way it blew off concerns this year from LGBT activists and groups concerned about the anti-gay law.

Said Boitano:

"I truly believe the IOC will never again choose a country to have the Olympics in that doesn't have a good human rights record, or a country that is not tolerant."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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The U.S. Delegation to the Olympics Offers a Few Thoughts: VIDEO

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Janet Napolitano, Caitlin Cahow, and Brian Boitano offer a few thoughts to gay journalist Charlie Cullen Walters from Sochi (which looks downright tropical!).

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Queer Nation Disrupts Brian Boitano Appearance, Demands Skater Speak Out Against Russia

The activist group Queer Nation reports, via press release, that it disrupted an appearance by figure skater Brian Boitano last night. Boitano recently dame out of the closet after being selected by President Obama as part of the official U.S. delegation to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

BoitanoQueer Nation writes:

Two members of Queer Nation confronted three-time Olympian Brian Boitano tonight, demanding he speak out against Russia’s recently enacted anti-LGBT laws when he represents the U.S. at the Olympics next month.

Boitano, who is one of three openly gay men and women chosen by President Barack Obama for the U.S. Olympic delegation, was appearing at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea as part of “Brainwave: Mind Over Matter,” an ongoing series that pairs men and women prominent in their various professions with psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists to discuss how the mind and brain work.

During his introduction of Boitano, Tim McHenry, the Rubin’s director of public programs and performance, spoke with admiration about how Brian Boitano had become “a courageous champion of human rights and artists.”

"When did he do that and what is it that he said?" shouted Duncan Osborne, one of the protesters. "He's going to a country with a record of abusing human rights, especially the rights of gay men and women, and he has yet to speak out about it,” Osborne continued.

Boitano has as yet said nothing against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, instead insisting that athletes and spectators respect the laws of the country they will be visiting. Tennis great Billie Jean King, who has also been chosen to represent the U.S. in Sochi, has been somewhat vocal about her disapproval of the Russian laws.

“Stand up and tell us what you are going to do what are you going to say in Russia,” yelled Jamie Bauer,” the other protester from Queer Nation. Boitano remained seated and silent and refused to acknowledge the protesters.

“Two members of Pussy Riot were imprisoned for protesting their government’s human rights record, and when they were granted amnesty ahead of the Olympics promptly denounced the amnesty and organized a protest,” said Bauer after the protest. “We haven't seen nearly that kind of courage from Brian Boitano, who has much less to risk.”

The audience was uniformly hostile to the protesters, and many booed. Two audience members attempted to remove Osborne but backed away when he threatened to have them arrested. The two Queer Nationals were eventually led peacefully out of the room by security guards.

“You’re a coward,” Osborne yelled repeatedly as he was escorted away.

No pictures or footage of the confrontation have surfaced yet.


What To Watch This Week on TV: 'Arrow' And 'Archer' Return, 'Looking' Debuts - VIDEO

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Check out our weekly guide to make sure you're catching the big premieres, crucial episodes and the stuff you won't admit you watch when no one's looking.

— Superhero buffs and buff superheroes, rejoice! Arrow returns Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern on the CW. No word if Colton Haynes will don his Jennifer Lawrence-inspired Golden Globes dress for the occasion, but one could hope.

More picks and clips, including an animated playboy, a Coven in danger and the most talked about new drama, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Brian Boitano Says He Intended to Never Come Out of the Closet Publicly

Brian Boitano told the AP yesterday that he planned to never come out of the closet publicly until he found himself chosen by Obama for the delegation to the Sochi Olympics and realized the group he was in.

BoitanoSaid Boitano:

"Our nation is at the forefront of trying to create a more tolerant public...The president is kind of saying to Russia that as a strong country, we believe in this and if you don't follow along, we will leave you behind in this thought process...I feel great about the delegation and being part of the movement. It's important personally to feel I am representing the country and the president's message."

The AP reports that Boitano was in Courchevel, France when the delegation was announced. He calls himself "a private guy".

He released his statement from there:

It is my desire to be defined by my achievements and my contributions. While I am proud to play a public role in representing the American Olympic Delegation as a former Olympic athlete, I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so. 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. First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.


Brian Boitano Reveals What Prompted Him to Come Out as Gay, What He'll Do in Sochi: VIDEO

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Figure skater Brian Boitano spoke Thursday for the first time about his coming out with Matt Lauer on Today, telling Lauer that his decision was prompted by Obama's strong message in sending gays with the delegation.

"When the president named the delegation, and I read in the news what his message was of tolerance and diversity, I thought, I have to take this opportunity. I think the message is so strong. I’ve always wanted to represent my country as best I could, and I knew that 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."

Boitano said that he didn't think he would go further with any outward protest of Russia's anti-gay laws at Sochi but it was up to each participant to decide:

"I think that we have to be careful once we go over there. I think the statement is already being made by us being on the delegation and Billie Jean and Caitlin, and us standing together united as gay people showing that there is freedom of speech, and we are successful human beings and athletes. I think that speaks measures...I encourage everybody to do what they feel is best for themselves. I never thought that I would be coming out in this way, and in a matter of 10 hours, I decided to do it. That was what was right for me at this time, so I tell everybody that I think that they should do what’s right for them at their correct time."

He also spoke about how coming out has affected him personally:

"I’ve always been a private person. I’ve kept the private side of my life special for family and friends who really knew me. I’ve never been ashamed of who I was. I’ve always been open with them, so I really didn’t feel that there was a need. I’m just a private guy, and I realize that there’s a public side of my life and a private side. I’ve always chosen to keep my sexuality private."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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