On September 17, The American College of Greece proudly welcomed the world champion in diving, Greg Louganis on campus for an HIV awareness talk titled “Breaking the Surface”.
In a full theater, the record-breaking athlete maintained an open discussion with the audience, consisting of PIERCE Gymnasium and Lyceum students, DEREE students and faculty. He talked about his struggles growing up, his thrilling moments as an Olympic champion and his battle with being HIV positive.
Mr. Louganis encouraged the students to actively participate in what turned out to be an amazing Q&A session with interesting questions and insightful answers by the famous athlete and activist. When asked what helped him thrive as an athlete, Louganis explained that the bullying he received at school was actually something that made him strive for excellence in diving. “The bullies made me much more determined. They were my motivating factor” and went on to instigate that we should be more supportive of each other and compliment fellow human beings when needed.
When asked for which part of his career he would like to be remember he exclaimed that his book “Breaking the Surface”, which was his medium to come out to the world about his struggles with HIV and his sexuality, is his most important achievement because of the response he received. “Making a difference by touching people. People came up to me and told me that I saved their lives. To me that’s what matters.” He believes that his Olympian status definitely helped him achieve a broader platform for advocacy but when it came to his book, which was personal, it made him feel that he was sharing his weakness. But after the overwhelming response that he had and the understanding of how much he was helping people, he realized that he was sharing his strengths.
Finally when questioned who was there for him throughout his life his immediate answer was his mother. He explained that when he was nervous or felt unsure he would think, “No matter what happens, my mother is still going to love me. She is my greatest champion.”
Towards the end of the event, the Vice President of the LGBT Awareness Club at DEREE, gave a piece of memorabilia to Mr. Louganis and, to his surprise, dedicated a special song to him: the song that helped him prepare for the Olympic games, “If You Believe” by the Wiz, played on the speakers, the best way to end a great event.