After 30 years, this gay Olympian is getting the recognition he deserves.

Sometimes when the Internet speaks, the big corporations listen.

Consider the case of Greg Louganis, the award-winning Olympic diver whose handsome mug has been conspicuously absent from a certain sports-inspired cereal box since the height of his record-breaking career in the 1980s.

"Never got a Wheaties box," Louganis said in an HBO documentary about his life. "Their response was that I didn’t fit their wholesome demographics or whatever. Basically, being gay, or being rumored that I was gay."


Shortly after the documentary aired, a Change.org petition popped up, garnering more than 43,000 signatures in support of Louganis earning his rightful place as the temporary visage on the breakfast of champions.

On April 4, 2016, General Mills announced that Louganis would finally get his due.

Well. Kind of.

Image from General Mills.

General Mills named Louganis as one of three athletes who "haven’t yet received the honor of being on a Wheaties box for their past athletic achievements."

According to a blog post announcement, Louganis will be joined by Janet Evans, an Olympic swimmer who held seven world records and four gold medals, and was celebrated for her short stature and unorthodox swimming style; and Edwin Moses, an eight-time gold medal-winning track-and-field Olympian who is also remembered for his innovations in reforming Olympic eligibility rules and drug-testing policies. Their respective individual boxes will be available from May through August 2016.

"Their accomplishments certainly put them into consideration for the cover of a Wheaties box at the time, along with several outstanding world champion athletes who were selected by the brand team in their era," said Kevin Hunt, a social media manager for global communications at General Mills. "But today … there’s no time like the present for Janet Evans, Greg Louganis, and Edwin Moses."

However, Mike Siemienas, manager of brand media relations at General Mills, made it clear that their decision to recognize these remarkable athletes after-the-fact was "not about who gets the most votes or who gets petitions."

Image from General Mills.

Whether the petition made a difference or not, General Mills missed a big opportunity with this announcement.

Look, we can't presume to know what goes on behind closed doors at General Mills (although we're pretty sure it involves lots of tasty cereal). But it does seem suspect that this announcement would come on the heels of Louganis's heavily-publicized documentary and the petition it inspired.

On one hand, it makes sense that General Mills would want to save face and pretend this "throwback series" was just a nifty coincidence, rather than saying, "Yeah we totally screwed up by giving in to homophobia at the height of the AIDS scare in the '80s. Our bad. But we can make it right now, so hey — better late than never!"

On the other hand: Imagine the kind of statement it would make if a major corporation stood up and said, "Discrimination is wrong. We made a mistake, and we're sorry."

Greg Louganis at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images.

Despite their egregious gaffe with Louganis, Wheaties does have a fairly positive history of diversity.

They broke ground with Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the first female athlete to appear on the box in 1935, followed one year later by Jesse Owens, their first black athlete. They also recently made a special commemorative box to celebrate Evan Wolfson, a lawyer, gay rights activist, and founder of Freedom to Marry.

And of course, Caitlyn Jenner was a spokesperson for the company for even years (even if she wasn't out at the time).

Muhammed Ali didn't receive a Wheaties box until 1999, likely due to the public controversies around his conversion to Islam and his refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Photo by Henny Ray Abrams/Stringer/Getty Images.

The fact that this new box collection of heroes from the past includes a black man, a woman, and an out gay man is still a major step forward for representation.

When people see other people like themselves being recognized for their accomplishments, it sends a message that they matter too.

But it doesn't just matter to the world-at-large; it also means the world to the athletes, even if that recognition is a little after-the-fact.

"This means so much more than it would have back then," Louganis told the New York Times. "Getting it now means people will see me as a whole person — a flawed person who is gay, HIV-positive, with all the other things I've been through."

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less
via KrustyKhajiit / YouTube

Thomas F. Wilson played one of the most recognizable villains in film history, Biff Tannen, in the "Back to the Future" series. So, understandably, he gets recognized wherever he goes for the iconic role.

The attention must be nice, but it has to get exhausting answering the same questions day in and day out about the films. So Wilson created a card that he carries with him to hand out to people that answers all the questions he gets asked on a daily basis.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

Keep Reading Show less
via WatchMojo / YouTube

There are two conflicting viewpoints when it comes to addressing culture from that past that contains offensive elements that would never be acceptable today.

Some believe that old films, TV shows, music or books with out-of-date, offensive elements should be hidden from public view. While others think they should be used as valuable tools that help us learn from the past.

Keep Reading Show less