Wednesday, August 13, 2008
GAY CHAMPIONS: Greg Louganis
First in the series of GAY CHAMPIONS, in honor of the Beijing Olympic games and an ode to gay champions of our past, Greg Louganis...a man who could make you gay just by staring deeply into your eyes.
And let's face it, being notably gay in an event as gay as diving is in accomplishment in itself. That means that Louganis was even gayer than you originally would have thought, out there flipping and twisting and diving into pools of rainbow sherbet and into the hearts of millions. But not only was Louganis gay...he was also a champion.
Greg was originally favored to win two golds in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, however, as soviet Russia was locked in a painfully uneventful Cold War with the United States, we boycotted these Olympics and denied the then 20-year old Louganis a shot as his dreams. Or, at least, I'm assuming those were his dreams, since he was gay and...well, you know, all gays dream about winning Olympic gold in the springboard. A lesser gay would have resigned himself to giving handjobs in back alleys between tears, but not Louganis. Louganis came back stronger than ever in L.A. in 1984 and won two gold medals, setting records for both total points and margin of victory. Greg Louganis became a GAY CHAMPION.
In 1988 in Seoul, Louganis again came in poised to take the gold medals that were rightfully his. Unfortunately, he slipped and hit his head off of the diving board in the prelims, giving himself a concussion and getting his blood all over the diving board, which would later turn into gay controversy in itself. And Louganis, ever the gay competitor, did anything but quit. He came back strong, finished the prelims, made the finals, and repeated the SAME EXACT DIVE to take home the gold. Champion.
The controversy I speak of was the revelation by Louganis in 1994 that he was gay and had the HIV, and that everybody else on the board had to step on his AIDS-blood. He was then criticized by the director of the US Olympic Committee, Harevy Schiller, obviously an expert at the forefront of the HIV research movement. Louganis, unfortunately, couldn't hear Schiller due to all of the gold medals in his ears. Most of Louganis' corporate sponsors, not looking to sponsor AIDS, dropped his endorsements. Speedo, however, stood by his side...of course, if Speedo was worried about being associated with gayness, well, they lost that battle a looooooong time ago.
In spite of the obstacles he faced, and the fallout he endured when he spoke of his HIV-ness, Greg Louganis persevered through it all and became what most gays can only dream about becoming...a GAY CHAMPION.