Thank you to the lesbians who were our core strength and voices, who came to our sides and helped us do the dirty work while we were in shock. At that time morgues wouldn't even take away the bodies of loved ones and friends that passed over.
Me, I am sure I was exposed in the early '80s, and diagnosed in '88, six months prior to the Olympic Games.
There were young men dying and health care workers in "hazmat" suiting covered head to toe. People were unwilling to touch, comfort or hold many of these dying, frightened men. It was the many members of the lesbian community and straight female allies that came to our aid.
When I was diagnosed, I thought I was going to "do the right thing" and pack my bags, travel from Florida where I was training and go back home to California and lock myself in my house and wait to die. This was my reality at that moment in time.
My cousin who was my doctor in Florida convinced me to stay and train -- pointing out we don't know how long I had been living with this virus in my body. But, he didn't want anyone to know he was treating me, because he feared for his practice if word got out.
I had just over 200 t-cells, to qualify at that time for the only drug available for treatment, AZT. Dr. Anthony Fouche made it possible for me to purchase the medication, which was at the time prescribed as two pills every four hours around the clock and quite costly, physically and monetarily.
I was in a fight for my life on and off the diving boards -- the Chinese had caught up to me by that time, which I couldn't share. The "secret" grew too heavy a burden on the pool deck, so I finally confided in my coach, Ron O'Brien. He held me in his office as I wept, and told me, "we will get through this together."
I was in an abusive relationship with a man who I thought at the time was what I deserved. I am grateful that diving gave me a purpose and goal to fight for. I also thank the support of Debbie and Kathy Shon, Dr. Sammy Lee's nieces, for the self-esteem to leave that relationship once I returned to California.
It was Kevin Perry's memorial I went to first, then I got word Jim Babbitt passed, but I didn't think it appropriate to attend his memorial. It was a brutal separation that I paid for in so many ways.
I spoke at a Comprehensive AIDs Program luncheon this past Friday in West Palm Beach Florida. They arranged the tables dedicated to many I considered my friends, Peter Allen, Michael Jeter, Ryan White. I sat at the Arthur Ashe table.
I don't write about this stuff much, I wrote it all in my book, Breaking Breaking the Surface and it is chronicled in the documentary, Back on Board.
This was my way of healing, by sharing so I could let that part of me go. It will always be a part of me, but I will not dwell in it. I needed to release it to the universe so I could move forward and live life!
Thank you Dino Hillas for sharing this, it is a part of my history, but I'm grateful it is "just a part." I have much more to do, and I feel I have much more to offer this world. We may be living with this virus, but we live!
It is not a curse from God, it is a virus. It was not killing "the right people" it was killing people -- people with amazing talent, brothers, friends, lovers, uncle's, men and women, just people. The current generation didn't live through it, so how can we help them understand?
Now today, I am happily married, legally in the the state I was born, to a beautiful man inside and out, Johnny Chaillot-Louganis. I would never have seen that coming!
It is like I have said, "Silence is often the best answer, but when it isn't use your outdoor voice." I was followed on my book tour in '95 by Reverend Fred Phelps, with signs like "Die AIDs Faggot," "You'll Burn In Hell," "God Hates Faggots" and pictures of me with 666 on my forehead.
My response was, "I feel like I should hand him a teddy bear and tell him he needs lots of hugs, because anyone who spews that much hate, can't like themselves very much."
I visit the past, but I don't live there. I will share the past, but it is just that -- the "past." I am here now and ask, "How can I be in service to others?"
My dogs are my teachers -- my Dobby, a blessing. Dobby's mother Nipper taught me patience and laughter! RIP Nipper, and Freeway my guardians, my angels. Mom and Dad, I miss you. And, Mom, your wish did come true: I am still here and I know you are looking after me from above.
Shared with love, a glimpse into the past. Time to get ready for Phoenix Effect boot camp and Cycle House Spin.
Greg Louganis, Athlete
My response to this article.