Re "The Truth Shall Set You Free," (Feb. 28): What do the late Arthur Ashe, Magic Johnson and Greg Louganis have in common?
They have all been celebrated male athletes with HIV. There are vast differences however, between the way the media and our society reacted to each man's public disclosure of his HIV status. Ashe and Johnson were greeted with deep shock and sadness. Hero and courageous were (words) used in abundance.
Ashe, who has since succumbed to AIDS, was talked about as an "innocent victim" because he acquired the virus through a blood transfusion. Johnson, quick to say he acquired the virus from one of the scores of women he slept with, was given a hero's due and continues to be a member of the club in the sports world.
Last month Louganis, an Olympian and probably the greatest diver in history, shared his HIV status and his story with the world. This time, the world slapped him hard and quickly tore out from under him the pedestal we had put him on.
Why was he treated so differently from Ashe and Johnson? Louganis is a gay man, and we don't countenance any gay sons in the land of the free and the brave, no matter how well they have served us.
Yes, Greg Louganis should have revealed his HIV status to Dr. Jim Puffer that day in Seoul, and did not. That is something he certainly regrets and will have to deal with for the rest of his life.
But, have any of Louganis' critics, so quick to judge, bothered to question the responsibility of Dr. Puffer to himself? Assuming that Puffer was aware of Greg's homosexuality, where was the thinking?
In 1988, a medical professional, more so than anyone, had all the facts related to the virus and its transmission. Surgical gloves should have been used without question, regardless of the patient's HIV status or sexual orientation. That is the doctor's responsibility.
The critics of Greg Louganis' actions who are now saying "he's no hero" miss a huge point. Greg was trained by society to keep quiet about his sexuality, his abuse, his HIV status.
Yes, he made a mistake in not getting the poolside doctor to put on gloves. But you can't expect to deprogram someone in a stunned moment when they've been brainwashed for 28 years.
ALAN L. LIGHT
Iowa City, Iowa