HBO is following up the success of June’s Larry Kramer: In Love And Anger with the debut of another LGBT-themed documentary, Back on Board: Greg Louganis.
Louganis came to international attention taking home consecutive double gold medals during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1988 Seoul Olympic–an unprecedented achievement.
In Barbara Walter’s 1995 interview with Louganis she called him “the greatest diver who ever lived.”
In his #1 New York Times bestselling autobiography, Breaking the Surface, Louganis came out as a gay man and publicly revealed his HIV-positive status for the first time.
This was a particularly shocking revelation not only because of the lack of HIV-positive figures in the media but because of a faulty dive during a preliminary round at the 1988 Olympics that left blood in the water.
“I became paralyzed with fear,” Louganis told Walters. “I was so stunned. What was going on in my mind at the time was ‘What’s my responsibility? Do I say something?’ This has been an incredibly guarded secret, it could throw the entire competition into a state of alarm.”
As a result of his revelation, Louganis lost all of his lucrative endorsement deals–minus Speedo, which kept him through 2007.
The new doc Back On Board recounts this and other setbacks that befell Louganis over the years (in one scene, he pleads over the phone with a bank representative for mortgage relief that would allow him to keep his cliff-side Malibu home).
Producers of the film financed the project via a Kickstarter campaign, nonprofit support and individual contributions. One of which came from Marc Cherry, creator of Desperate Housewives, who saw value in telling Louganis’ story.
“A lot of Olympians, they don’t talk about that, about how after your Olympics are over and that if you’re successful, you have this high-high, but then you have this low-low,” Louganis said an interview with the LA Times. “Because it’s the question of, ’Now what? Who am I? What worth do I have?’
Watch a trailer for the film below.
Back on Board: Greg Louganis airs tonight, August 4, on HBO.