Study Guide

Olympics Books Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story

By Various Authors

Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story

Greg Louganis? More Like Greg You-Awesome-Is.

Greg Louganis is a name that you've probably heard before. You might have heard it in conversation (or in a Family Guy cut-away) and wondered, "Why should I know who this guy is?"

Well, if you don't immediately conjure up the image of him hitting his head on the diving board in the 1988 Olympics, then you were probably just not born yet… because that's the only way you'd have missed that happening.

Although he should be remembered for his incredible achievements—he won two gold medals for diving in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, which had never been done before—he's best known for the time he epically misjudged his distance from the board, and made the whole world think they'd just witnessed a really unfortunate death.

It's no joke: if you're brave, here's the video of it. (And by the way, no, there aren't clips available online that don't have the creepy slo-mo or 80's techno soundtrack. We tried.)

If you're squeamish at all, here's a photo that isn't graphic.)

But since he wrote Breaking the Surface in 1995, Greg Louganis has become famous for things other than hitting his head. This Mario Lopez lookalike came out in 1994 as openly gay, and later revealed that he was HIV-positive. At a time when AIDS and HIV were considered an imminent death sentence, as well as a disease with a strong social stigma, these actions were beyond brave; they were heroic.

Since then, he's continued to be an activist for gay rights and AIDS awareness, and he's made a huge difference in the lives of young adults across the country. Reading this memoir, and learning all about his struggles with loneliness, depression, abusive relationships, drug addiction, and the fear associated with battling a terrifying disease, is a surprisingly optimistic experience that everyone should enjoy.