My friend Greg Louganis is the subject of this new documentary which is up for Project Of The Month from Indiewire:
“Greg Louganis Back on Board”
When Greg Louganis hit his head on the diving board at the 1988 Seoul Games, it was an unforgettable moment. But when, despite his injury, he earned the highest single score for his next dive and win the Gold, it was among the most incredible feats in history.
BACK ON BOARD is an engrossing story about an American legend and his comeback. Film reveals Louganis’ evolution from childhood prodigy to Olympic champion, from pioneering openly gay athlete with HIV to an overlooked sports icon. His return to diving as mentor to USA divers at Olympics provides new chapter of life-story.
Greg has been an inspiration for what I do. He has also been personally very supportive of me and HIV prevention and treatment work in Montana- and throughout the world. His story is one of pain and humility, determination, compassion and trust. It deserves to be heard, and this film’s wide distribution will be a beacon for a lot of people- including kids- who could use a dose of inspiration.
You can vote to get this film a consult from the Tribeca Film Institute. It’s the last day to vote, so…
“I really want to do this for GLBT youth,” Louganis told me this morning. “Being on Dancing With The Stars is more than me being on the show, it sends a positive message- an ‘It Gets Better’ message. And that message is still important- kids are still losing hope. I want to do what I can for them.”
There have been gay men on DWTS before- Lance Bass, Carson Cressley and Louis Amstel- and Chaz Bono broke the transgender barrier last season, but if this bid is successful, Greg would be the first openly HIV+ contestant. And it’s about time, say HIV activists.
“In a generation that is trying to end AIDS, it’s great to have openly HIV positive sports figures like Greg Louganis in the spot light,” said Tom Donohue, founder and executive director of Who’s Positive, an HIV/AIDS advocacy and awareness organization. “Not only can his presence be a reminder for folks to be tested, his appearance on Dancing With The Stars can reemphasize how those living with HIV/AIDS can live normal and active lives.” Donohue is also on the board of directors for The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA).
Time will tell if this Facebook movement will work- but if the producers are recruiting Tim Tebow– it seems only fair.
This week Joe and Phil are at the Haas Jr. Foundation LGBT writer, journalist and blogger summit in San Francisco California, however they wanted to share a few special interviews this week while they’re away.
This weekend Joe and Phil will be speaking with leaders around the nation about LGBT youth and family issues–and our interviews will help accent some of these conversations. First Phil speaks with Kelly Huegel, the author of GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Teens–just now releasing its second edition–about the challenges faced by LGBT youth in schools, as well as the victories achieved by young queer kids. Then I interview Michael Contorno about the struggle of LGBT youth in coming out, and his inspirational moment meeting his hero, Greg Louganis on the Oprah show.
We also have two extended interviews. First Noemi Masliah and Lavi Soloway–founders of Immigration Equality and top immigration lawyers for same-sex binational couples–talk about their new project: Stop the Deportations–the DOMA Project. Finally, I’m back with Jamee Greer, lobbyist and community organizer for the Montana Human Rights Network, and Mike Wessler, Research Director for the Montana Democratic Party about rural politics, anti-discrimination, LGBT rights, equality and the importance of Montana in the national political landscape.
The Yellowstone AIDS Project fundraiser last night was great. The auction items were cool; the people were great; Greg Louganis recounted his path from 3 year-old dancer to Olympic champion to humanitarian and coach. Loved being part of it all to help raise money for a very worthy cause.
This was my favorite quote of the evening:
“Never underestimate your ability to make someone else’s life better- even if you never know it. Just be your best self- it can change the world.”
I’ve gotten to know this guy a bit, and I am happy to say, he’s the real deal. His heart is large, his desire to make the world better is real, and his kindness and generosity made me (humbly) glad to be able to spend some time with him- and share the experience of my friend with the people here in Montana.
They got to know a man who worked hard to achieve his goals with such determination and drive that made me wonder if he was human. That wonder was quelled by the warmth and kindness he showed to me and my friends- and the humor, dedication and insight he shared during his presentation. His openness about being HIV-positive and gay and, (gasp), Californian, were inspiring. The casual comfort with which he presented himself and his life reminded me to not take myself too seriously- even though I’m not at all in his league.
Maybe that’s what everyone else who shared that night was thinking- and I guess that just proves my point.