Olympic diver Greg Louganis has said gay people can get out of their comfort zones to “create change”.

Louganis spoke on Saturday at a City Club luncheon sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation, and said he ensured he visited Kansas, the home of the adamantly homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, on a book tour.

He said: “It’s important to get outside your community and to let people see who you are and not play safe.”

“If you’re uncomfortable, you may be creating change without even realising it. Never underestimate the positive impact you can have just by being yourself and letting people see who you are as people.”

Louganis, a three-time Olympian, came out as gay shortly after returning from the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.

Louganis won gold on the 3-metre spring board and 10-metre platform at both the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the Seoul Games, as well as taking a silver medal in the 10 metre at the 1976 Montreal Games.