Daniel Franzese: 'Greg Louganis deserves his rightful place on the Wheaties box'

2015-09-01
_D5A2908 In his latest column for Attitude, Daniel Franzese (pictured, right) asks why one of the greatest athletes of all time hasn't got his proper dues... Sitting back with some popcorn to watch a new movie, I came across HBO’s documentary Back On Board: The Greg Louganis Story. A gay American Olympian, Greg's name is synonymous with diving. In 31 years, no one has been able to beat his winning streak and he remains the greatest diver of all time. Why then does the documentary show the reality of Greg's life today: low on money and regretful he was never given a spot on the General Mills 'Wheaties' breakfast cereal box alongside so many other similarly decorated athletes? Many seem to think it is homophobia or HIV stigma that meant Louganis has never really been given his dues. Having a gay man on the cover of the iconic Wheaties box didn't seem possible in the 1980s - especially one who is HIV-positive. Louganis revealed his HIV status in his autobiography Breaking The Waves in 1996, and since has remained a constant face of activism. Louganis was long rumored to be gay before he decided to come out publicly in '96, and in the documentary he speaks about how he chose being true to himself versus the perks that came along with living a double life... but that he still has a longing sting for what rightfully his: The honor of being memorialized alongside his athletic peers on that iconic Wheaties box. ygrCfiifivNKAVt-800x450-noPad Without landing the sort of endorsement deals that many other athletes enjoy, it's clear why Louganis has had a troubled time financially. Now, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation - a leader in HIV/AIDS activism - has taken the reigns along with Change.org to petition and fight to get Greg on the Wheaties biox where he belongs. Years ago General Mills snubbed Muhammed Ali - perhaps, some speculated, due to his controversial conversion to Islam - but they later corrected the oversight by adding him on their 75th anniversary box in 1999. Isn't it time to see Greg Louganis on the front ot that General Mills Wheaties box? Its time to lay this old demon to rest and take care of it once and for all. Having an out HIV + sporting hero on the box could help erase stigma for the HIV/AIDS community, while at the same time helping to honour one of our biggest LGBT heroes. The world has changed since the 1980s; the LGBT comunnity is more visible and welcomed into mainstream society than ever - so is General Mills willing to move with the times? 502900857_f6ffd252e5_o Currently, Greg is mentoring new Olympic divers who are learning a lot from his guidance. Its time we gave this hero the respect he deserves. If you would like to sign the Change.org petition to let General Mills and Wheates know you support the idea of finally getting Greg Louganis this honour, you can sign the Change.org petition - along with the almost 35,000 people who've already done so. Words by DANIEL FRANZESE. – Daniel Franzese is an actor of stage and screen best known for his performances in films like Mean Girls and for ordering pizza at 11pm. Online, his viral videos Please Go Home and Sh*t Italian Moms Say have reached millions of viewers worldwide. Follow him @Whatsupdanny on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr and on YouTube.com/MyMyMyTube. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California where he starred as #EDDIEBEAR on HBO’s LOOKING. Also by Daniel: 'We need to educate our allies, not attack them'