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July 1963, James-Michael Lavigne was born to a young couple in a lower
class district of Montreal. It was not one of the easiest starts to
life and indeed his childhood and adolescence would present him with
a number of obstacles that any of us would find difficult to overcome.
In achieving his goal to be the best in his field, James-Michael has
won not only a personal battle, he has also won a battle for countless
young gay people everywhere in proving that nothing is impossible when
you have faith in yourself.
JAMES-MICHAEL’S ATHLETIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- 1998 Gay Games Gold Medal Bodybuilding Champion, Amsterdam.
- 1992 Double Gold Medallist, The North American Gay and Lesbian Bodybuilding Championships, Dallas.
- 1991 Double Gold Medallist, The International Gay and Lesbian Bodybuilding Championships, San Francisco.
- 1990 Gay Games Silver medal bodybuilding champion, Vancouver.
- Winner of 10 Quebec Provincial Track & Field medals, men’s 400m hurdles, 4x400m relay (1979 to 1982)
would be difficult not to agree that the above is an impressive resume
by anyone’s standards and looking
at where James-Michael is today, it is hard to imagine that he had to
endure bullying, sexual abuse and the non-acceptance of his peers earlier
on in his life. James-Michael insists that the only way anyone can pull
themselves out of a similar situation is “To
have guts, to believe, to have a goal…It’s so important to
have faith in yourself”. Indeed, he believes that following
a goal to its realisation or simply finding one to follow is the fundamental
basis to a fulfilling life. He explains this best in his own words:
“The most beautiful thing in your life, when you have found the goal, when you have lived for the goal, is when life allows the goal to manifest itself”.
In the pursuance of his goals James-Michael has had two role models that he has continuously looked-up to in order to give him the strength to go on. The first is Martin Luther King Jr., because of his courage in repeatedly speaking-out for the equal rights of African Americans in the face of adversity. The second is Princess Diana because of her acts of compassion and genuine love. He says that the lesson he learned from his two role models was to speak-out against injustice:
“As long as there are people out there who think that I am lesser than them because I am not heterosexual, I will be outspoken…You have to try to make a difference”.
James-Michael realises his importance as a role model to gay teenagers in his hometown and the world over. This is one of the main reasons that since 1990 he has participated, promoted and fully supported participation in GLBT sporting events. He sees it as a way to encourage self-esteem amongst homosexual teenagers who are statistically proven seventeen times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. He would however like to point out that GLBT sporting events are usually open to everyone and are an invitation to the straight community to compete together with gays on a local and international stage. James-Michael believes that in order to overcome your own personal demons you have to build self-esteem. He chose sports as a way to overcome this. To this day James-Michael continues to promote physical fitness, health, nutrition and sport in the gay & lesbian community as a way to a better life.
Ask James-Michael about his goals for the future and he will immediately mention two things very close to his heart:
- To win another bodybuilding medal at a GLBT international sporting event.
- To publicly support, challenge and encourage participation at a GLBT international sporting event.
James-Michael has never forgotten his roots and is adamant to promote Montreal, his hometown.
“It is my opinion that the Quebecois are probably the most progressive people in the world when it comes to tolerance and the acceptance of other people’s lifestyles and cultures”.
James-Michael would like people to use his site not only as a means of keeping up to date with his life but moreover as a resource for getting to know Montreal and its Gay and Lesbian community better. He is determined to spread the word that in Montreal, “We’ve got it going on!”.
James-Michael Lavigne: an extraordinary athlete and an extraordinary man.
written by Christopher