40th Anniversary History Series
Produced and curated by Federation of Gay Games Archivist Doug Litwin and FGG Honourary Life Member Shamey Cramer
with Ankush Gupta, FGG Officer of Communications.
Read the entire "Passing The Torch" series as it is posted daily HERE.
Post 1 of 40 - 28 July - Introduction
“Passing The Torch: Ruby Anniversary Edition” is a factual timeline of the major events that have been part of the Gay Games evolution since its inception.
12 of the 36 individuals contributing editorial content participated in the inaugural Gay Games in 1982, with several participating in all ten Gay Games; eight have served as FGG Board Co-Presidents; plus sports administrators from around the world and world record holder sharing their stories and the impact the Gay Games have made on their lives and communities.
The series will run from 28 July 2022 - one month before the 40th anniversary of the original Opening Ceremony at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium - through 5 September, the anniversary of Gay Games I Closing Ceremony. All postings will remain online and available for viewing at the FGG website.
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The inspiration for this project began over two years ago when planning for Gay Games 11: Hong Kong 2023 Cultural Festival got under way. Federation of Gay Games Officer of Culture Anthony Alston, in his work with Hong Kong 2023’s Director of Culture Shawn Griffin, put out a call to those who wished to help with the presentation of a photo exhibit using 40 iconic images from the first forty years of the Gay Games.
Doug Litwin, the FGG Officer of Marketing at the time had long been the keeper of the FGG’s digital archives, and was immediately tapped to be involved. Honorary Life Member Shamey Cramer, co-founder of Team Los Angeles and former Officer of Ceremonies (2011-2016) and Officer of Development (2015-2017), whose professional career involved curating and publicizing photo exhibits quickly volunteered.
Litwin and Cramer invested nearly 200 hours reviewing and curating the tens of thousands of images in the FGG digital archives. They met with the four volunteers from the Hong Kong Culture team to visualize and plan how the forty images and Gay Games history could be displayed in a gallery-type setting.
Once that was established, Litwin and Cramer realized the potential for creating a more definitive collective history of the Gay Games. In October 2020, they began their outreach efforts to engage more than three dozen former and current executives whose lives were impacted by their participation as athletes, artists, and advocates, as well as handling the business affairs of the quadrennial event.
We are grateful to the following individuals, whose memories and images will be shared over the next forty days:
- Anthony Alston, Seattle USA, Officer of Culture
- Noemi Arzate, Ciudad Mexico, MEX, Azkatl Mexico Diversidad AC
- James Ballard, Los Angeles USA, Gay Games IV World Record holder
- Mauro Bordovsky, West Hollywood USA, Gay Games pioneer, Co-founder, West Hollywood Aquatics, Gay Games I - X participant
- Stuart Borrie, Kuala Lumpur MAL, Exec. Director, Gay Games VI, Sydney 2002, Tom Waddell Award Recipient
- Mark Brown, San Francisco USA, Gay Games pioneer, Co-founder, San Francisco Arts & Athletics
- Hlengiwe Buthelezi, Durban RSA, Founder, The AfroGames, FGG Board member
- Charlie Carson, New York USA, Gay Games I pioneer, former FGG Board member, Gay Games I - X participant
- Shamey Cramer, Los Angeles USA Gay Games pioneer, Co-founder, Team Los Angeles, former FGG Board member
- Kurt Dahl, Chicago USA, former Co-President
- Gene Dermody, San Francisco USA, former Co-President, Tom Waddell Award recipient, Gay Games I - X participant
- Joanie Evans, London UK, FGG Co-President
- Jack Gonzalez, West Hollywood USA, Co-founder of Los Angeles Volleyball Association
- Jim Hahn, San Francisco USA, Gay Games pioneer, Gay Games I - X participant
- Richard Hogan, Sydney AU, former FGG Board member, Order of Australia Award Recipient
- Susan Kennedy, Antioch USA, former FGG Co-President, Tom Waddell Award Recipient
- Derek Liecty, Walnut Creek USA, Gay Games I Official, Tom Waddell Award Recipient
- Doug Litwin, Sausalito USA, FGG Archivist, former FGG Board member
- Susan McGrievy, Los Angeles USA, co-founder, Team Los Angeles, GGI Torchbearer
- Laura Moore, NYC USA, Co-founder, International Gay Figure Skating Union
- Oliver Murphy, Cork IRL, Gay Games I and II Decathlon champion
- Brent Nicholson Earle, NYC USA, founder, Rainbow Run, the Memorial Moment, Tom Waddell Award Recipient
- Doug Orloff, Bend USA, Gay Games pioneer, West Hollywood Aquatics Co-founder, 1983 Festival Games Swim Meet Director
- Shiv Paul, London UK, former FGG Board member
- Rick Peterson, Seattle USA, Gay Games pioneer, former FGG Co-President
- Jeffry Pike, Boston USA, former FGG Board member, executor, Roy Coe Scholarship Fund
- Emy Ritt, Paris FR, former FGG Co-President
- Kate Rowe, Sydney AU, former FGG Board member
- Tony Smith, Denver USA, former FGG Board member
- Reggie Snowden, San Francisco USA, FGG Officer of Sport
- Jean-Nickolaus Tretter, Minneapolis USA, Gay Games pioneer, Co-founder, Team Minnesota
- Thomas F. Waddell, MD, San Francisco USA, Gay Games founder
- Jessica Waddell Lewinstein Kopp, North Carolina USA
- Sara Waddell Lewinstein, Oakland USA, San Francisco Arts & Athletics, Tom Waddell Award Recipient
- Chris Van Scoyk, Los Angeles USA, Gay Games pioneer, West Hollywood Aquatics Co-founder
- Kathleen Webster, Philadelphia USA, former Co-President
- Ivan Yap, Kuala Lumpur MAL, FGG Officer of Membership, Director The Straits Games
- Mary Zaller, Cleveland USA, Gay Games 9 Director of Development
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Thomas F. Waddell, MD was born Thomas Flubacher in Paterson New Jersey on November 1, 1937. When his parents separated during his teen years, he went to live with his neighbors, Gene and Hazel Waddell, who would later adopt him.
(L) Tom Waddell (second from left) and (R) throwing the javelin at Springfield College, Massachusetts
Tom attended Springfield College in Massachusetts on a track scholarship, graduating with a degree in pre-medicine. His philosophical views were greatly influenced by his first lover-mentor, the avowed socialist, F. Engels Menaker, a man 30 years his senior. Tom and Enge, as he was known, met working at a children’s camp in western Massachusetts.
Waddell attended New Jersey College of Medicine and did his internship at Beth El Hospital in Brooklyn in 1965. He also travelled to Selma Alabama to participate in the Civil Rights Movement following the events of “Bloody Sunday” on March 7, 1965.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966 as a preventive-medicine officer and paratrooper. When he protested his orders to be sent to Viet Nam, rather than be court-martialed, he was sent to train in the Decathlon for the 1968 Olympics to be held in Mexico City.
Tom Waddell at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics
1968 was a tumultuous year. There were student and other protests against the Viet Nam War and the draft; the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, which led to massive riots and destruction in most major American cities; and additional riots and arrests during the National Democratic Convention in Chicago that August.
In Mexico City, on October 2, just ten days before the start of the Olympic Games, Mexican troops opened fire on a student demonstration against the crime and poverty in their country at a time when massive funding was being channeled to produce the Olympic Games. 30 students died, with another 100 injured, and several hundred arrested.
Adding to the tension, many of the Black American Olympians threatened to boycott the Games to protest racism in the United States. Tom was supportive, and did what he could to assist them in their efforts to bring attention to their cause.
Tom would later state that when he walked into the Estadio Olímpico Universitario on October 12 for the Olympic Opening Ceremony , he was so overcome with emotion, that he wished everyone - not just elite athletes - could experience the rush of being cheered by thousands of people.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medals stand following the 200-meter race
On Wednesday, October 16, 1968, Waddell’s U.S. Olympic teammates Tommie Smith and John Carlos captured first and third in the 200-meter sprint. When it came time for the medals ceremony, both Smith and Carlos were shoeless, with long black socks, representing the poverty and oppression of the black community. As the national anthem played, each man raised a black-gloved fist as a sign of Black Power. In addition, Smith, Carlos and Australian silver medallist Peter Norman (who would also be ostracized upon his return to Australia) all wore badges representing the Olympic Project for Human Rights, to bring awareness to racism in sports.
The United States Olympic Committee immediately issued an apology to the International Olympic Committee, and Smith and Carlos were promptly sent home.
It was at this point that Tom Waddell spoke out in the press in support of Smith and Carlos, with his comments being printed in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and other key international media. As the media storm continued, Tom competed in the first day of the two-day Decathlon event on Friday, October 18, setting three personal best records (long jump, high jump, shot put).
As he was preparing for the 110-meter hurdles, the first event the following morning, he was informed that Colonel F. Don Miller, the military liaison to the US Olympic Team, wanted Waddell to be court-martialed for his comments.
Colonel F. Donald Miller
Colonel Francis Donald Miller was born in Racine Wisconsin in 1920, a national collegiate boxing champion, and served 26 years in the U.S. Army, receiving the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, among other honors, for his service.
Although nothing ever came of that threat, it did establish animosity between Waddell and Miller, who would become the Executive Director of the US Olympic Committee from 1973-1985.
Given that Tom was an active member of the U.S. military, he was unable to compete openly as a gay man at the 1968 Olympics. He was on course to participate in the 1972 U.S. Olympic trials when he blew out his knee doing the high jump at an event in Honolulu. Although his career as an elite athlete had come to an end, his work in the community was about to begin.
Tom Waddell & Charles Deaton, as featured in PEOPLE Magazine, 1976
Tom met and began a relationship with Charles Deaton in 1974. Two years later, they became the first gay couple featured in People magazine. The relationship lasted through 1981, when Tom took a job overseas in Dubai. But by 1980, despite his being out of the country on business much of the time, Waddell had already begun the process to launch the inaugural Gay Olympic Games.
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Read the entire "Passing The Torch" series as it is posted daily HERE.