Flipping Out

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Breaking The Surface

Posted by garymcuesta on April 21, 2011

Greg Louganis.

Many images come to mind when that name is mentioned. The most common would be Louganis’ dive at the 1988 Seoul Olympics Games. But what is more amazing is the path he had to take to be the best diver in U.S history.

In his autobiography Breaking the Surface, Louganis, along with Eric Marcus, tell the incredible life story of a man who had to overcome much more than the pride of fame.

Louganis was born on January 29, 1960. Adopted as a child by a Greek-American couple, Louganis grew up in El Cajon, California. From a young age, he had to face prejudicebecause of his darker skin. He was taunted at school by other children. He was made to be the outcast because of it. He also struggled with the reality of being adopted. This did not help his feelings of not belonging.

He also suffered with dyslexia which was diagnosed late into his childhood. It was something he tried to hide. It was something he tried to deal with. For all that he had gone through as a child into his adolescence, what he next discovered about himself was what would divine him the sport he loved.

Louganis found sanctuary at the pool, or above it, as it were. He took an interest in diving as a child and he was hooked after his first couple of lessons. He found safety in the space between the board and the water from the taunting and the struggle of his early life. But there was one thing that he could not hide from.

During his adolescence, Louganis realized he was gay. He struggled to accept himself in a time when it was not easy to be out and proud if at all. He had to hide his secret for a long time.

As an adult, his lover tested positive for AIDS after they were together for six year. This prompted Louganis to get tested as well. He was diagnosed with HIV just months before the Summer Olympics in Soul were his life would change forever.

During the preliminary diving competition, Louganis hit his head on the spring board. He suffered a laceration on his head, resulting in blood going into the pool and onto the deck. His personal coach knew Louganis was HIV positive. However, no one else one the U.S diving knew. The incident forced him to come out about not only being gay but admitting to being HIV positive when the world still did not know or understand much about the disease.

This is what the book does do well. It truly ties together the struggles Louganis had to go through to get where he is today. It does it in a personal way that makes it seem as if Louganis is having a conversation with you. It is personal, deep and painfully honest. He is not afraid to take his life story to paper and let the world do as it want with it. Nothing is left out and nothing is unexplored.

When it would have been easy to write a book that kept Louganis’ personal life above the surface, he broke it.

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