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A man’s best friend

By |2017-10-31T08:41:37-04:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Any avid Animal Planet fan would know that former Olympic diver Greg Louganis relishes the company of his dogs: two Jack Russells and a border collie.
But some may not know the role they play in lifting his spirits while living with HIV.
“They give you unconditional love so they’re there through any of the treatment I might be going through,” Louganis, 46, tells BTL from his home in Malibu. “They actually keep me pretty active as well.”
Aside from participating in agility training with his puppies, Louganis hits the gym each day and follows a proper diet regime. But, above all else, he keeps a positive attitude.
“When I was diagnosed, I was still diving competitively so the diving helped me focus on something positive,” he says. “So through a lot of the initial stuff – depression, realization and mortality – I was still diving so I had a positive focus and that really helped me through.”
It’s his dogs that give him the positive energy to combat his virus.
Louganis laughs, “I’ve always been an animal lover. My parents never allowed as many animals as I wanted.”
The four-time Olympic gold medalist, who recently released an updated version of his 1995 autobiography “Breaking the Silence,” participates in spin classes, yoga, palates and resistant training and takes his medications regularly in the evening. But even though Louganis no longer takes AZT, a toxic HIV drug commonly used in the ’80s, he still deals with side effects.
“I’ve been through so many different treatments and have been involved in so many studies,” he says. “Some of the side effects have been incredibly debilitating and some of the side effects are tolerable. With some of the medications the initial side effects subside over time because your body adjusts.”
When Louganis speaks to college and university students on AIDS and HIV, he emphasizes that people shouldn’t become complacent about the virus.
“I share some of the side effects of the medications because a lot of the kids are seeing these long-term survivors and they think medications are kind of like a silver bullet so they’re not taking the precautions,” he says. “The side effects of the medications can be pretty severe especially with the protease inhibitors.”
In addition to HIV, Louganis deals with clinical depression.
“If I have a difficult time getting to the gym … then usually something emotionally is going on, (and) I usually try to figure it out and address it immediately rather than letting it go,” he says.
Despite facing hardships, Louganis hasn’t shied away from the public eye. He’s made himself visible through film roles, including 1996’s “It’s My Party” and an appearance at Gay Games Chicago in July. Currently, he’s working on the “Muses Legal Guide to Living Together.”
“There’s so much anti-gay resolutions through the country. This enables anybody, not just gay couples, to protect their loved ones,” he says.
Not only does the guide include estate planning and a living trust for children and relatives, but it protects pets, too.
“I do a lot of animal rescue and a lot of those dogs don’t have a place to go because provisions weren’t made,” he says. “So this enables them not to have to go to shelters and my dogs have godparents so that if anything happens to me … they’re gonna go some place where they’re loved and they won’t have to spend a night in the shelter.”
Despite dealing with a life-threatening virus, Louganis doesn’t dwell on it anymore.
Louganis says, “I could be hit by a car tomorrow.”

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.