Olympic gold medalist diver Greg Louganis and his life since coming out as gay and HIV+ in 1995 is the subject of the upcoming HBO documentary ‘Back on Board,’ by filmmaker Cheryl Furjanic.
by Laura Hertzfeld
Throughout the 1980s, Olympic diver Greg Louganis was a symbol of American grace and athleticism – he was the saving hope of the U.S. Olympic Diving Team, earning four gold medals in 1984 and 1988 on both springboard and platform diving boards. After hitting his head on the board at the 1988 games, he bounced back from near-tragedy to win yet again. But it wasn’t until 1995 with the publication of his autobiographyBreaking The Surface – detailing both his wins and the shocking news that he was gay and HIV+ – that Louganis became an icon to a generation. Almost 30 years later, however, his story has faded into the background. What happened to Louganis after his public coming out, including his financial struggles through the recession and his life now, is the focus of a new documentary from filmmaker and NYU professor Cheryl Furjanic. “I wanted to tell Greg’s story to different audiences, but to me he’s such an important part of sports history, LGBT history, and HIV/AIDS history. That is his legacy. They almost can’t make it up that his story is so entrenched in American history,” she says.
Larry King Now spoke with Louganis and Furjanic separately about the film and what they hope audiences learn from his story. Back on Board airs on HBO August 4 at 10pm.
Larry King Now: What do you hope people get out of the film?
Cheryl Furjanic: It feels like a missing slice of history. It’s important for people to know Greg’s story. In the history of HIV/AIDS, it’s important to see where he fits into that. He has the most incredible power of resilience and that’s an important takeaway for audiences, too. I’m hoping that he would have a career resurgence because of the film. That he can continue his great work – on aftercare, on anti bullying. He really has so much to offer on so many different levels.
Greg Louganis: I think something that I learned when I wrote Breaking The Surface – I was fearful that I was sharing all my weaknesses, but in sharing my weaknesses I was actually sharing my strength. And I feel the same way about Back on the Board. When people take a look at this, the black mold scare of 2006 and the ridiculous loans of 2007 and Countrywide, B of A – people who’ve been through all of that – they weren’t the only ones. I felt dumb and stupid, but then I learned, ‘Hey, I’m not the only one.’ I realized, ‘Oh, wow, I wasn’t alone in all this.’ So I think that by sharing those perceived weaknesses you’re actually sharing your strength and also empowering people that, hey, you can get through this, too.
read more: http://www.ora.tv/larrykingnow/article/greg-louganis-hbo-documentary-director-talk-olympics-caitlyn-jenner-role-models