About the Gay Games

Original poster for Gay Games I; due to the legal action against San Francisco Arts and Athletics by the USOC, all copies used had the word “Olympics” blackened out, thus creating the name of our event: the “Gay Games”

The Gay Games are the largest sport and culture event in the world open to all.

Everyone can be part of the Gay Games, whatever their sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political belief(s), athletic/artistic ability, physical challenge, age, or health status. At the Gay Games, a 60-year-old beginner can compete in the same event as an Olympic champion. The Gay Games are not like the Olympics, reserved for an elite minority: they are for everyone, they are for you.

Built upon the principles of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best, since 1982 the Gay Games have empowered thousands of LGBT athletes and artists through sport, culture, and fellowship.

The Gay Games were conceived in 1980 by Dr. Tom Waddell as a vehicle of change.

Since Gay Games I in 1982, the Gay Games have been hosted in seven cities in five countries on three continents.

For over a quarter century, the Gay Games have built an international legacy of changing cultural, social and political attitudes towards LGBT people across the globe, at the same time empowering thousands and thousands with the transforming benefits of sports competition.

In the early 1980s, LGBT athletes were a hidden and marginalized community within the greater marginalized and beleaguered LGBT community. Being gay and being an athlete was an either-or proposition: be a jock or be a queer. All of that changed when the athletes marched into Kezar Stadium in 1982.

“We need to discover more about the process of our sexual liberation and apply it meaningfuIIy to other forms of liberation,” Waddell wrote. “The Gay Games are not separatist, they are not exclusive, they are not oriented to victory, and they are not for commercial gain. They are, however, intended to bring a global community together in friendship, to experience participation, to elevate consciousness and self-esteem, and to achieve a form of cultural and intellectual synergy…. We are involved in the process of altering opinions whose foundations lie in ignorance. We have the opportunity to take the initiative on critical issues that affect the quality of life and we can serve in a way that makes all people the beneficiary.” Waddell wanted to bring gays and lesbians together in an unprecedented effort, and he wanted “to dispel the prevailing attitudes in sport regarding ageism, sexism and racism.”

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