New York, 1994. Greg Louganis, arguably the most successful Olympic diver in the modern era, shocked the world when he sent this message to the opening ceremonies of the gay games; “Welcome to the Gay Games, it’s great to be out and proud.” After winning two gold medals in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, Louganis was on top of the world. He was one of the most popular Olympians, a burgeoning young actor, and corporations were standing in line to offer him endorsement deals. But, under the surface, he held a dark secret. Just prior to the 1988 Olympics, he tested positive for HIV. At a time when it was still taboo for athletes to reveal their sexual identities, Louganis knew that his coming out would change his public life, and probably not for the better.
This year, the Ashland Independent Film Festival will be honoring Greg Louganis, with the 2015 Rogue Award. A special screening of the new documentary, Back on Board: Greg Louganis, directed by Cheryl Furjanic, will air this Saturday at the Armory in Ashland. http://louganisdoc.com/. Furjanic and Producer Will Sweeney felt it was time to introduce Greg Louganis to younger audiences, and to “cement Greg’s legacy and importance in sports history, LGBT history, and the history of the HIV epidemic.” This film will chronicle the difficulties he faces being a gay athlete, living with HIV, and his efforts to promote respect as he returns to public life.
Janelle Wilson, director of the Queer Resource Center (QRC), is very excited to see this film and present it to LGBT students at SOU. She was surprised, and a bit disappointed that many of the students visiting the QRC weren’t familiar with Greg Louganis, and especially his importance in the LGBT community. “It’s not often that we get the opportunity to see contemporary LGBT leaders here in our town, and we are thrilled that he is going to be here.” She wanted to emphasize that there are lessons to be learned here for everyone on how to persevere against great odds, and hopes that all SOU students will consider seeing this film.
Show time will be 6:00 PM, Saturday the 11th. Tickets are $15 for the general public/ $8 for students. For information about this and other films showing at the festival, contact the Ashland Independent Film Festival at: http://www.ashlandfilm.org/index.asp