By Ray Bradford
April 4, 2016
As first reported in the New York Times, a grassroots petition started at Change.org, created by Julie Sondgerath of Chicago, IL, and supported by GLAAD and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, has led to Olympic champion Greg Louganis finally being recognized on the legendary Wheaties cereal box.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis responded to the news:
“By including a gay, HIV-positive Olympic hero on its iconic breakfast box, Wheaties is sending a powerful statement that living your authentic life is what champions are made of. GLAAD is proud to have been a part of this campaign to honor Greg Louganis and thanks the more than 40,000 people who joined this petition to support him.”
Olympic champion diver Greg Louganis is considered to be the best diver of all time. He has won four Olympic gold medals, and no one to date has ever beaten his diving records. But behind the scenes, he was bullied growing up … and on his Olympic team for being gay. Interestingly enough, unlike so many other other athletic champions, he never received the kinfd of endorsement deals that flowed to others and struggled financially because of it.
“It’s been nearly two decades since the U.S. has seen a decrease in the number of new HIV infections. Stigma around HIV is a key factor inhibiting progress. To see an HIV-positive man on a Wheaties box would be a tremendous stride in the stigma barrier that prevents so many Americans from getting tested and treated for HIV,” Joel Goldman, managing director of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation told GLAAD, a partner in this initiative from the start. “But, the main reason to see Greg Louganis on a box of Wheaties is that he is undeniably the greatest diver of all time. Let’s #GetGregWheaties!”
After watching HBO’s documentary released last year, Back on Board: Greg Louganis, many across the country felt inspired to ask General Mills to right a wrong and put him on the Wheaties box. Today, we learned that General Mills will do just that.
In this interview last year, Louganis talked with GLAAD’s Claire Pires about the homophobia he experienced, living with HIV, and how he found a new passion working with Olympic hopefuls. The power of media cannot be underestimated.
In 1934, Wheaties began including pictures of winning athletes on its packaging with the slogan “The Breakfast of Champions,” and in 1958, began placing these pictures on the front of the cereal box. It has since included many hundreds of athletes from different sports. Louganis wasn’t the first superstar athlete to wait on Wheaties. Muhammad Ali was not featured on the cover until 1999…a full 18 years after his last fight!
Today, GLAAD celebrates Greg’s athletic achievements and his contributions towards accelerating acceptance of LGBT people…and those living with HIV.