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It’s been over 25 years since “the greatest American diver” retired. What she found was that if you were 27 years old or younger, you didn’t know who Greg Louganis was. You have such a tremendous coming out story, (and) coming forward about your HIV status.” It’s been almost 20 years since my book, contains a staggering amount of archival footage that traces back to your childhood, your Olympic highlights and coming out process. Would it have been possible to date another athlete when you were competing or would that have been unthinkable? There was one Russian diver I was attracted to when I was 16. I don’t care what you do with the picture.” It caught me so off guard.
I allowed a lot of the things that a happened in my life. You speak very candidly about the abusive relationship you had with your former partner and being diagnosed with HIV. After diving I ventured into the world of dog training and agility. In 1976 I went to a friend of mine, an older diver. Were you able to fully appreciate that when you were in the closet? Some gentlemen called my sister’s number and I happened to pick up. I’m gay and I’m HIV-positive.” Did you feel like you became an activist in that moment?
In the midst of those struggles were you able to imagine a future for yourself? The dogs gave me a sense of security, company and unconditional love. I went to him asking advice and wanting to open up that door of conversation. I didn’t realize it at the time because I was just thinking, “I’m Greg Louganis. I’m nothing special.” Now I realize how just being myself and sharing who I am, I am an activist.
My husband and I recently went to Nepal and just by being ourselves, we were ambassadors. I had my background in theater and my acting pursuits but I kept those worlds very separate [from the diving world].
In the last few years you have taken on the role of mentor. Somebody coming out in a team sport like Jason Collins and Michael Sams-that kind of blows me away. No matter how successful an Olympian is we all go through that. A lot of people didn’t realize how much training I did for acting and dance and being in front of a camera. Unlike Mary Lou Retton, who walked away from the 1984 Olympics with multiple endorsement deals, you got only one- Speedo.
Chances are if you were a gay boy growing up in the 1980s, you probably had a photo of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis on your bedroom wall.
Clad only in a tight Speedo swimsuit, the photogenic Louganis was the epitome of a teenage dream, although few knew the despair he was going through privately.As a shy kid who faced bullying for being adopted, biracial and effeminate, he found solace on the diving board.His hard work and dedication paid off when he won back-to-back gold medals at the 19 Olympics.The 1995 publication of Louganis’ memoir sent shock waves through the sports world by confirming what many had long suspected, that he was gay, but also that he was HIV positive and had been when he accidentally hit his head on the diving board at the 1988 summer Olympics in Seoul, potentially exposing other swimmers and his doctor to the virus.Louganis unexpectedly found himself in the role of HIV activist as he defended his “lifestyle” to an often uninformed and homophobic media that preferred to blame the victim.Larry King’s blunt and decidedly insensitive question to Greg, “How could a smart guy like you practice unsafe sex?