The US figure skater Johnny Weir has announced he is gay.

The three-time US champion has refused to clarify his sexual orientation until now and previously said he did not want to label himself.

In extracts of his forthcoming autobiography, published in People magazine, Weir says that being gay is “the smallest part of what makes me me”.

“I’m not ashamed to be me,” the 26-year-old wrote. “More than anyone else I know, I love my life and accept myself. What’s wrong with being unique? I am proud of everything that I am and will become.”

He told People that he never felt he had been in the closet and that his family have no problem with him being gay.

But he said he hoped his announcement would help those with less supportive families.

“With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story,” he said.

The champion said previously: “There are some things I keep sacred. My middle name. Who I sleep with. And what kind of hand moisturiser I use.”

His sexuality was thrust into the spotlight last year when two Australian sports commentators made jokes about his costumes.

Weir’s book, Welcome To My World, is published next week.