Photo by Myles David Jewell | Courtesy of LouganisDoc.com
Greg Louganis, 53, married Johnny Chaillot, 52, Saturday evening, October 12, at Geoffrey's in Malibu. Dobby, Louganis's dog (pictured above), was the ring bearer.
Chaillot and Louganis began dating in 2012 after finding each other on the online dating site Match.com. They became engaged almost exactly a year later, on April 8 2013.
"I first met Greg in 2010 in Los Angeles," Chaillot explained during a joint interview with Out on Thursday. "I was in the audience where he was giving a speech, and I introduced myself at the end. He told me subsequently that he doesn't remember us meeting. Later, since it's hard to meet people in Los Angeles, I put in my profile on Match, and the first person they matched me with was Greg. He did the same thing, and they matched him with me. But I didn't reach out, I did not "wink," I was intimidated that my profile matched Greg Louganis's. It was a little odd. So Greg made the first move."
The two planned for their first date to be at a David Sedaris book reading in Los Angeles in April 2012. Greg was late, trying to find parking at the UCLA campus of the reading, and when he saw Johnny waiting for him on the steps, he thought, God I hope that's him. "So our first date was on a college campus," Chaillot said, who is originally from New Orleans but relocated to L.A. in 2007 after Hurricane Katrina, and retains a slight Cajun accent.
According to Chaillot, the feeling of intimidation melted away quickly. "People know Greg Louganis, the diver, but very few people know who he actually is: He's a shy, polite, talented, funny, thoughtful man. He happens to be the greatest diver in the world—no one has ever broken his records—but within the first few minutes his shyness and politeness was so endearing. I didn't read his book, and I knew very little about him, so I got to know who he was and fell in love with that person."
Louganis admits that the two "could probably pass as brothers," and he worried it could be seen as narcissistic, but it was also a recognition: "I think both of us knew we were meant to be together...One thing that I love about Johnny, he's always looking for similarities rather than differences," he said, explaining that they both have January birthdays. "Instead of saying, I'm 11 months younger than you, he said 'We're the same age for 25 days.' It was so sweet."
The wedding rehearsal took place in Louganis's Malibu home, where he's lived for 28 years. The wedding ceremony at Geoffrey's was attended by 160 close friends and family, including Barbara Eden, French Stewart, Bruce Vilanch, diving coaches, and "people we love and admire and have history with." The Voice contestant Dominic Scott Kay provided entertainment.
The couple were on a quest to find the perfect rings. Their birthstones are both garnet, but they didn't find much that they liked until they were in Australia, where Louganis was a Celebrity Splash coach and judge. The garnet and opal stones they found were fashioned into a unique setting by Malibu-based artisan Bill Wall Leather. "He's a biker, and he's an artist who does jewelry," Louganis said. "I went to him and asked him if he could do it since I love his work. We have gorgeous rings." And they'll forever remind them of their time spent in Australia together, added Chaillot.
Since the men found each other later in life, and are both confident and comfortable in their lives, one may wonder why they decided to tie the knot. But for both of them it was an easy decision. "There's power in getting married," Chaillot said. "People get married every day and take all those rights for granted. That's not Greg and me. We were so thrilled that the Supreme Court was on the right side of history, and now we get to enjoy what people take for granted every day: hospital rights, legal rights, and all the benefits that come with legal marriage. So why not take that opportunity to fulfill that dream? I've always wanted to get married. I just never thought I'd be able to do it."
Louganis, who wrote about difficult relationships and emotional struggles he had early in his life and career in his autobiography, said he never gave up on trying to find the man he would love. "I took care of my dad the last years of his life, and one thing the whole experience taught me was that the person he really wanted there wasn't there. I don't want to say I was a poor substitute, but he really wanted my mom there," Louganis said, explaining that his parents had divorced. "He let pride get in the way. I learned you have to forgive yourself first, and then forgive others. I always wanted to find that person that I could share my life with, who shared the same values. We make bad decisions when we're young and often stay [in relationships] for the wrong reasons; the one thing I found for myself, personally, is that I kept making better decisions and better decisions."
So once Johnny met Greg, they didn't feel they needed to wait very long to make it legal. "The way I describe it," Louganis said, "It's not like I'm trying to get know Johnny; I recognize him. Yeah, we both have histories, and it took this long for the universe to put us together. But the more I fall in love with Johnny, the more I fall in love with myself."