Caitlyn Jenner may have rocked the sports world by coming out as transgender
earlier this year, but another Olympian had made major waves decades before with a then-shocking announcement. The two champs were reunited for the first time since Jenner's transition
on Saturday night at a charity event.
Five-time Olympic medalist Greg Louganis, who is still the record holder for national titles in platform diving, came out as gay in 1988 in a best-selling book, Breaking the Surface
, and revealed in 1995 during an Oprah Winfrey interview that he is HIV positive
While he and Jenner first met in Montreal at the 1976 Olympics, when Louganis was 16 and Jenner won the gold for the decathlon, he hadn’t official been reintroduced to Jenner since she became Caitlyn.
"We remained friends and traveled together on speaking tours for the next two decades," Louganis, now 55, told the audience at the Point Foundation's Los Angeles gala. "The last time we saw each other was about 18 months ago in Malibu. But it wasn't until tonight that I had the pleasure of meeting the incredible woman she is today -- and she's just as strong, courageous, tenacious, smart and beautiful as ever."
At only her second public speech since being honored at the ESPY awards
in July, 65-year-old reality star -- who was decked out in a stunning red pantsuit that teased a lacy red bra underneath -- joked that she didn't have to do much to earn the room's applause.
"A standing ovation for coming out here and not tripping in heels!” she said. "I've always been kind of tall, but I walked out here today, and I had to raise the mic up even higher. Girls, it is all about the shoes, isn't it?"
Then she spoke more seriously about the impact Louganis had on young LGBT athletes, including Jenner herself.
"I've always lived my entire life with things inside me that I could never express to other people, except a very few people," Jenner said. "And so many times with Greg, I kept thinking to myself, he would be very understanding, he would be a great person to talk to about some of my issues and just never had the opportunity -- until tonight."
She added, "Isn't it just wonderful to live your life authentically?"
"This is a very different group," she said. "When I did that, honestly I had to divorce myself from where I was. I'd been at the ESPY Awards many, many times. I couldn't put it in my head. I'm standing up there, in my perfectly executed Donatella Versace
gown, and I'm looking down at LeBron James, Brett Favre, and I'm thinking, 'I can't go there.' I just have to stick to my speech, get it out. Somehow, I look at this audience, and I just don't get that feeling that it's that intimidating to me."
After the event, Jenner shared a photo of herself with Ernst and Zyskowski, reiterating that it was her "privilege to present" them with the Horizon Award at the gala.
While it may have been a nerve-wracking experience for her, Jenner's speech at the ESPYs
was just as moving. Watch her call to action from that award show in the video below.