Greg Louganis is a true legend in the sports world. He is considered by man the greatest diver of all time, winning four Olympic golds and a silver (and he would have won more if not for the awful 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics boycott forced by President Jimmy Carter).

When he came out publicly in the 1990s, it was a revelation, this American hero a gay man. And then when he talked about having HIV, he was one of the highest-profile people in the world to talk about the disease.

He has been a hero to so many with HIV and AIDS ever since.

So it wasn’t a surprise that Louganis was honored last Friday at the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco, as part of World AIDS Day.

Also honoring Louganis was Brett Arthur Van Sledright, a gay athlete in San Francisco, who wrote a special poem honoring Louganis and the recognition he received in San Francisco for the 2023 World AIDS Day.

Van Sledright’s poem:

Upon his diving board, a figure poised,
Greg Louganis, grace in dives composed.
A watershed deep, his prowess undisguised,
Olympic height, where victories enclosed.

Yet, not confined to pools of accolades,
His legacy, a beacon shining bright.
On World AIDS Day, his courage cascades,
A champion for those in silent fight.

Through fluid arcs, he battled more than air,
HIV’s tide, a challenge unafraid.
With openness, he sought to share,
To break the silence, myths began to fade.

On this revered day, we turn our gaze,
To a mister Greg Louganis, a hero’s humble grace.

Van Sledright was in attendance at the event honoring Louganis in San Francisco last Friday.

“Louganis’s impact on this World AIDS Day is profound remembrance, a reminder that strength takes on many forms,” he said. “His advocacy work, like ripples in his pool, has touched countless lives, fostering understanding and a kind compassion we ought only ever sought.

“In commemorating Mr. Greg Louganis today, we celebrate not just an athlete but a beacon of courage, an advocate who turned personal challenges into a catalyst for global change.”

It’s a lovely acknowledgement of Louganis and his place in history, not just in the sports world but during a trying time for the gay community in the 1990s, and the love and compassion Louganis leads with every day.

Van Sledright will be taking part in the 2024 AIDS/LifeCycle. You can contribute to his efforts to raise money to help fight AIDS here.

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