BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Greg Louganis said he was unaware of fellow Olympian Caitlyn Jenner’s gender identity struggle when their paths crossed at the Summer 1976 Games and in later years.
The diving great, among the first prominent athletes to come out as gay, said Thursday he hasn’t spoken with Caitlyn Jenner recently but can appreciate what she’s going through.
“We all have our journeys. Whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, we all have our own journeys,” Louganis, 55, told reporters during a Q&A session on the HBO documentary “Greg Louganis: Back on Board,” debuting Tuesday.
The response to Jenner’s candor, including her own reality series and an ESPY award for courage, contrasts sharply with Louganis’ experience before and after disclosing his orientation in 1992 and, in 1995, that he was HIV-positive.
He became the only man in diving history to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in both springboard and platform diving, in 1984 and ’88, but found that opportunities available to other Olympic stars eluded him. He’s said previously he came to believe it was because his sexuality had not remained a secret within his sport when he had yet to come out.
Louganis said Thursday he hasn’t been asked by longtime Olympic network NBC to serve as a commentator for his sport at the Games.
Louganis was asked if thought being gay was a reason NBC didn’t hire him.
“I think in ’92 it was more fear of my health status… in ’92, people were still dying,” he said, suggesting that NBC somehow gained knowledge of his condition before it was made public. He declined to offer further details.
NBC Sports had no comment on Louganis’ remarks, a spokesman said.
Magic Johnson, who retired from basketball in 1991 after announcing he was HIV positive, was hired by NBC to call games for its 1992 and 1993 NBA Finals coverage.
Over the years, Louganis has been a motivational speaker, acted, and written a best-selling memoir titled “Breaking the Surface.” He’s back in his sport as a mentor to USA Diving’s coaches and top competitors and said he will be a TV commentator at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for another network.
He won a silver medal as a teenager in the ’76 Games, where Jenner was the decathlon champion.
Louganis said he’s working on a musical about his friendship with Ryan White, the Indiana teenager who had contracted the HIV virus through a blood transfusion and encouraged tolerance of those with AIDS. White died at age 18 in 1990.
The HBO documentary, directed by Cheryl Furjanic, promises to examine Louganis’ public triumphs and private struggles of a trailblazer.
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