Former Olympic diver and four-time gold medalist Greg Louganis thinks a bit differently. He takes 10 pills a day, tries to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and takes blood tests every night to monitor his immune system. Louganis has been infected with HIV for over 20 years and rocked the 1994 Olympics with the admission that he was gay and suffering from the disease.
Louganis Keeps Going
It would be easy for someone to shut down, emotionally, knowing they have HIV. For a time, Louganis hit that wall. He was stealing pain medication from his father. His abusive partner had died from AIDS-related causes. He was depressed. He seemingly found solitude from his mother Frances, who died in 2004.
It was her death and a DUI in 2006 that caused Louganis to wake up. He’s now in a happy relationship and Louganis’ disease does not prevent him from living the way he wants to live.
An Inspiration to Gay Athletes
If the stresses of HIV aren’t enough, living as a closet homosexual was incredibly tough of Louganis. As tough as this was, however, his admission inspired other athletes to break their silence, like boxer Orlando Cruz. These men broke barriers for the gay community.
“Greg coming out made a huge difference to the gay community,” says Fawn Yacker, project director of the Last Closet, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that aims to make pro sports more welcoming to gay athletes. “He was such a household name that it may have been a shock at first, but the reaction was, ‘Wow, I liked that guy, and he’s gay.’ It started a conversation.”
Just Keep Going
If Greg Louganis has taught the world anything, it’s that you can keep moving forward, even with a disease like HIV. Perhaps people think that Louganis and Magic Johnson are still alive because they have money. This may be true, but what they have that everyone else can have is the support from family, friends, and peers. He continues to inspire gay athletes across the world to feel comfortable in their own skin.
In any challenge you face or illness you encounter have the spirit of Greg Louganis, and know you can keep going forward.