A documentary on the pride of UC Irvine–and before that Santa Ana and Mission Viejo high schools–premieres at 10 tonight on HBO.
The four-time Olympic gold medal-winning diver at the center of director Cheryl Furjanic's Back on Board: Greg Louganis describes the documentary as "a raw look
at my life."
Diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, six months before the 1988 Summer Olympics, now 55-year-old Louganis told City News Service's Steven Herbert recently, "I knew those were my last competitive dives because we still viewed HIV/AIDS as a death sentence. I never thought I'd see 30. And then 30 goes by. And then 40 goes by."
"Greg's story is connected to so many important moments in American history, including the Olympics, the AIDS epidemic, the gay rights movement and even the recent home-foreclosure crisis," observed producer Will Sweeney, who was inspired to make Back on Board after reading a 2011 New York Times story about Louganis returning to diving as a mentor after being away from the sport for more than 20 years.
Furjanic, who is also among the film's writers and producers, said during last week's Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills that she and her crew spent three years shadowing Louganis.
"Greg's return to diving to mentor the Olympic team gave us a natural way to tell his unique story and explore his enduring legacy," she said, citing an unscientific poll that showed people "under 30 didn't really know who he was because they hadn't heard is name in their lifetime."
Besides showcasing Louganis' talents on the board and as a mentor, Back on Board has him openly discussing his struggle with being gay, living with HIV, recovering from alcoholism and trying to save his home after bad business decisions. But he remains a very busy man, training dogs for agility competitions, preparing to be a diving analyst at the 2016 Olympics and living the domestic life with his husband, paralegal Johnny Chaillot.
Getting back to his roots at UCI, where he graduated from in 1983 with a major in Drama and a minor in Dance, Louganis appears in the plays The Kid From Kokomo in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Spring at the Willowbrook Inn in Orlando, Florida, later this year.
"I don't plan too far ahead because my husband is always encouraging me to do what's in front of me to the best of my ability," Louganis told Herbert. "That's how I make it through my day."