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"Passing The Torch" Post 24 of 40

20 Aug 2022 10:21 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

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 24 of 40 - 20 August - Gay Games 10

“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. 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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Noemi Arzate at Paris Gay Games in 2018

NOEMI ARZATE: Hola mi nombre es Noemi Arzate Miranda de Mexico soy una Mujer Trans activista por los derechos de las personas de la diversidad sexual y de género, deportista, madre de 2 hijos y presidenta de A.C. Azkatl México Diversidad Deporte y Cultura.

En lo personal a lo largo de mi vida de mi infancia, niñez, juventud y hasta la actualidad el sector trans ha sido el centro de discriminacion dentro de nuestra sociedad, se nos ha negado el derecho en todos los ámbitos en todos los espacios, profesiones y al deporte.

El deporte en lo personal fue mi impulso para salir adelante, para luchar por mis sueños para disciplinarme para alejarme de las drogas y tener otra perspectiva de la vida como mujer trans,(no solo somos estilistas ni trabajadoras sxuales), no pense que el deporte fuera para mi, tenia mucho miedo ejercerlo por que son espacios eteronormales donde solo existe el machismo.

Lo intente empese a jugar fútbol dentro de ligas eterosexuales me corrian o se burlaban de mí, pero seguí mi sueño hasta alcanzarlo con muchas resistencias pero muy satisfecha,

Ahora ya tenemos espacios seguros sin discriminacion, una liga gay que es un recinto dentro de mi comunidad ya por más de 14 años, fui becada por la federación Gay Games donde me dieron la oportunidad de realizar el más grande de mi sueños unas olimpiadas a nivel mundial donde conocí más de 80 países,sus culturas y su pasión por el deporte y el poder representar a mi país fui la mujer más feliz, y para concretar mi felicidad mi sueño obtuve medalla de plata en fútbol soccer, gracias a ese viaje y medalla se me abrieron las puertas en lo personal, laboral y seguir impulsando al sector trans para que alcancen sus sueños.

obtuve muchos reconocimientos muchas entrevistas, la medalla al mérito deportivo por el congreso de la ciudad de méxico(por primera se le otorga vez a una mujer trans) entre muchas cosas más, gracias a la experiencia  de los Gay Games.hemos llegado a colombia, los ángeles, las vegas etc.

Ahora seguimos construyendo sueños, trabajando a favor del deporte e inclusión y derechos humanos para las personas LGBTQ+


Hi my name is Noemí Arzate Miranda de Mexico,

I am a trans woman, sexual and gender diversity activist, an athlete, mother of 2 sons, and President of the A.C Azkatl Mexico Diversidad Deporte y Cultura 

Personally, throughout my life, from childhood and young adult life, and currently, the trans community has been at the center of discrimination within our society. We have been denied rights in all areas, spaces, professions, and even sports. However, sports have propelled me toward my dreams, and have given me motivation and discipline to stay away from drugs and a new perspective of life as a trans woman (not all of us are hairstylists or sex workers). I never thought sports were for me. I was afraid to play any sport because they are predominantly heteronormal spaces where machismo exists. 

Yet, I tried. I started off with soccer, playing in heterosexual leagues, but I was kicked out and made fun of. As challenging as this was I did not let it bring me down because I was chasing my dreams so I kept playing until I was accepted.

Today, we have safe spaces free of discrimination. We have a gay league and a venue within my community that is now 14 years old. I was since given a scholarship by the Federation of Gay Games where I was provided the opportunity to realize my biggest dream: to participate in the global Gay Games 10: Paris 2018. At the event, I met people from 80 different countries and learned about their respective cultures and passions for sports. It was an empowering experience to represent my country, I was the happiest woman, but more importantly, I earned a silver medal in soccer, which opened the doors to new opportunities to leverage my achievements to pave the way for other people like me in the trans community.

For now, we keep making dreams a reality, and support sports as a vehicle for inclusion and human rights for the LGBTQ+ community. BECAUSE SPORT IS FOR EVERYONE - TRANS SPORT.

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Ivan Yap at the Paris Gay Games in 2018.

IVAN YAP: My first Gay Games was Paris 2018 thanks to the partial scholarship from FGG which enabled me to participate. I competed in Bowling and won 3 bronze medals. This doubled-up the sweet moment as a first timer. 2018 also coincidentally was the year where I got more involved with FGG. I was elected as the first Asian officer to the Board as Officer-at-Large. My journey with FGG continues today in my second term as the Officer of Membership.

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The finish lines for Triathlon and Mountain Cycling. Photos: Franck Weens (L); R. Dugue (R)

KATE ROWE: Came back again as a volunteer to help with the Paris 2018 triathlon and cycling. This proved to be a challenge. Also participated in both and captured more medals. Was also a Team Sydney rep at the AGA.

This was to be my last involvement. At 68, it was time to let go and experience new passions. I now play the ukulele, performing when I can.

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Hlengiwe and her medals from GG10 Track & Field

HLENGIWE BUTHELEZI: Great games with 7 medals (3 Golds, 3 Silvers & 1 Bronze). This is a year I left being an Assembly Member and was elected to FGG Board of Directors as an Officer at Large. When I returned home, I was honoured with the Feather Award of Sports Personality of the Year, a prestigious honour, because of the cumulative work I have done for the Queer community over the years, including the Gay Games achievements, and founding the AfroGames, which debuted in December 2018.

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The houseboat on the Seine where Jim Hahn and others stayed during GG10

JAMES HAHN: Gay Games 10 would return us to Europe in the City of Light, Paris. Doug Litwin and I and assorted band members stayed on a beautiful houseboat on the banks of the Seine. It had a 50-foot glass wall on the side of the river. I've never stayed in more beautiful housing. I will always remember this Games because of the venue downtown next to a museum as well as a very welcoming vibe. My favorite story from this Games was from when Doug and I were on a bus on our way back to the houseboat after bowling. After a couple of stops, a young lady and her two sons got on the bus and stood next to us. I noticed that the older of the two boys had a pin in his baseball cap. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the last Team San Francisco pin I had on me and presented it to him. His eyes just lit up! Then it hit me, I didn't have anything for his younger brother. Yikes! I dug into my backpack and thankfully, I had another pin that I could give to the younger boy. I scored twice!

I spent a few minutes chatting with mom who spoke perfect English and she looked relieved that someone else was entertaining the boys for a few minutes. They got off the bus a little while later, the boys still glowing.

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Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris at the GG10 Opening Ceremony. Photo: M. Faluomi

EMY RITT: I live in Paris and served as an FGG Board Member and Co-President before resigning in December 2014 to serve as the Paris 2018 Director of International Relations.

The selection of Paris in October, 2013, to host the tenth edition of the Gay Games was based on the long experience of team members in organizing sport events, as well as their in-depth knowledge of the Gay Games, and their ten-year history of organizing the International Tournament of Paris, also known as the TIP. Several Paris team members had previously served on the FGG Board and/or as FGG Delegates representing FSGL, the French umbrella club. Also, the Paris Team had strong relationships with the municipal and national government agencies, and with local businesses and civil society.

The “City of Light” was easy to sell to potential participants, and for the first time in over ten years, there was no longer any competing global event to consider. However, there were a few glitches along the way, including during the Opening Ceremony. Apparently, the food and drink vendor did not believe that ten thousand people would attend the ceremony, which resulted in a severe shortage of personnel, food, and drink. With very hot temperatures that day, many participants left early. By the end of the ceremony, the stadium was practically empty, and many participants were not happy campers.

The spectacular GG10 Closing Ceremony at l’Hôtel de Ville

To see a video of the amazing Closing Ceremony, click HERE

Fortunately, the rest of the week went very well, and the “saving grace,” so to speak, was the ground-breaking Closing Ceremony, which took place in the center of Paris in front of the historic City Hall (l’Hôtel de Ville) featuring a series of beautifully choreographed sketches performed by many of the local sports clubs. The fabulous costumes, music, and storyline were a huge hit!

Support from the City of Paris, including the national Department of the Interieur and its Security team, as well as the local police, fire protection, and first responders, was excellent.

All in all, the week of Paris 2018, the tenth edition of the Gay Games, was a resounding success (un succès retentissant)!

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Gay Games 10 Tennis players. Photo: C. Giros

SHIV PAUL: When I attended my first Gay Games in Cologne in 2010 at the age of 39, I was blown away by how much it moved me, mostly because it was an entirely unexpected feeling. I had moved from London to New York in 2005 with my then boyfriend from whom I split up after 6 months of being in Manhattan. In a new place with a new life before me, I turned to what had given me solace in my youth but which I had neglected for some time because I couldn’t quite find my place in it all – sport. Tennis has always been my first love of sport and I threw myself back into it with a vengeance by joining the gay tennis league in Manhattan.

My first doubles partner became one of my best friends and we travelled with other friends to compete regularly on the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance tour. When he suggested we attend Gay Games VIII in Cologne, I thought it was simply another tennis tournament we’d be playing in. Arriving in Cologne to the throngs of participants, spectators, and supporters of the Games, the colour, the spectacle, the pure adrenalin was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It rapidly occurred to me that I had had no idea what to expect.

Like the parade of nations, for example. Seeing representatives - sometimes a sole one - from countries that had severe penalties for being LGBTQ+, both broke my heart and steeled my resolve to do and be something more for my fellow community members. It is easy to feel disconnected from your own community in the LGBTQ+ universe, and disenfranchised too but in that space at that moment – and to this day – I recall feeling that "No, I am not disconnected. I am part of something meaningful and powerful and brave. And there is work still to be done." I am part of a community, a fight, a mission, to support, protect and champion those who are made to feel less than merely because they want to live and be who they authentically are.

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Figure Skating in Paris. Laura Moore in the left photo

LAURA MOORE: The Paris figure skating event was the first one to be recognized by the ISU, at least a portion of it. One day of the competition was judged by ISU judges. Skaters in those events had to skate to ISU rules, with men in skirts and same gender partnering forbidden. Georg Kling is now IGFSU co-delegate to the FGG. He skated a protest performance on the ISU day. It was brilliant and hysterical. He was disqualified and given no score. One judge walked out. One positive highlight of the men’s competition in the ISU portion was an on-ice marriage proposal to a skater’s boyfriend.

Ice Dance, Pairs, and entertainment categories were run by IGFSU /ISI. ISI officials who had come from the US were very happy to have been a part of such an amazing event, Lisa Fedick of ISI has described our work with the Gay Games as “life changing”. She proudly ordered Gay Games figure skating jackets for all the officials.

By the time I was training for Paris, I had become an ice dancer. After some partner drama in NY, I arrived in Paris partnerless, but with the costume I had made for the woman I had planned to skate with. I hoped for a Cinderella miracle. I had given her dress and the tuxedo I wore for a solo performance to fellow NY skater Chris Lipari.

I spread the word that anyone who could skate the American Waltz should contact Chris. My partner for the event was posted as “Mme Mystere.”

I took the ice for warmup alone. Near the end of the warmup Joel Dear skated up to me wearing my tuxedo. I was in tears as he joined me for the last minute before the dance started.

My gay prince had arrived. After part of the dance pattern, I was stunned to realize we were not alone on the ice. I saw a very tall muscular blond waiting to take me in his arms for the next part of the dance. It was Christian Erwin, Joel’s ice dance partner. in full drag wearing the dress that matched mine!

Skating with my hand on his shoulder, trying not to displace his long blond wig, I didn’t notice Jill Ahlbrecht had come to take me through the end of the dance.

I was awarded a gold medal but none of my “menage a trois” of partners had completed enough required steps to qualify. They sat at my feet on the podium. What a special moment!

Joel and Christian’s powerful romantic duet skated “In Passing” was an instant Gay Games classic and has been performed in front of numerous Ice Theatre of NY audiences, Joel’s future husband Rishi was a new man in his life in 2018. He didn’t want to see Joel skate until the Gay Games. I laughed when Rishi showed up at an ice rink in shorts, but watched him fall deeper in love with Joel that day.

Most of the skaters took part in the Exhibition, including a very special group number choreographed and learned in a couple of hours. It began with a waltz in an imaginary Parisian Park. I was thrilled that Mark Stanford was cast as the ingenue who would catch our collective gaze. He wore my lavender dress and was resplendent. I knew Mark when he was a teenager and I was a beginning skater in my 30s. We had not seen each other in decades.

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Richard Hogan (R) with former FGG Co-Presidents Rick Peterson and Roberto Mantaci at Paris Opening Ceremony. Over Richard's left shoulder is Laura Moore

RICHARD HOGAN: My memories of the Paris Gay Games start long before 2018. Many individuals from Paris have contributed to the Gay Games movement over the years and I was very glad the event was finally going to their city.

The Consul General of France held two receptions in Sydney to promote Gay Games 10. The first was when the FGG held its 2016 Annual Meeting in Sydney. At that gathering, the former High Court Justice Kirby referenced the speech he gave during the Sydney Gay Games opening ceremony. He reminded us of the equality issues we faced in 2002 and compared them to the current state of affairs. While we all agreed there was still much to fight for, our situation had greatly improved, especially with the recent marriage equality decisions in Australia and around the world. 

The other French reception was for Team Sydney athletes going to Paris. I had the honour of being MC for the night. I rarely get nervous speaking to a group and the night was going well until I had to introduce the VIP guests. I got emotionally choked up when I introduced a local government politician, Christine Forster. Half way through the introduction, I realised it was the first time I ever said, “and her wife.” Perhaps it was the glass of French champagne but that was one moment I will never forget. I realised then that the world was definitely becoming a better place.

The week in Paris was wonderful. I participated in Track & Field so my days were spent at the stadium renewing friendships made in Cleveland. It was difficult but I found time to play tourist. Of course, there was a reception at the Australian Embassy. The Games Village had a great atmosphere, so I spent quite some time there. During the week I met many of the Hong Kong representatives, and am now looking forward to attending the first Gay Games in Asia in 2023… or maybe I’ll go to Mexico, I’m not sure yet.

Read the entire "Passing The Torch" series as it is posted daily HERE.

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