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"Passing The Torch" Post 30 of 40

26 Aug 2022 10:53 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

1982: August - Response to the Olympic Injunction

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 30 of 40 - 26 1982: August - Response to the Olympic Injunction

“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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Team Los Angeles member Phil Manciero wearing unaltered "Gay Olympics" shirt at the GGI Opening Ceremony, 1982

SHAMEY CRAMER: In mid-August, 1982, we had our Team Los Angeles send-off party at Studio One, with drag queen Kenny Sacha as the MC. The funds we received from Christopher Street West allowed me to design and print our yellow and teal t-shirts for everyone, with the words Team Los Angeles Gay Olympic Team across the front. Our athletes wore these into Kezar Stadium for Opening Ceremony under their navy zip-up hoodies.

Announcements about the reaction to the Olympic injunction

That same week, we received the shocking news: the United States Olympic Committee had won the right in court to prevent us from using the word "Olympic." Every item printed, etched or embedded with the word Olympic had to either be destroyed, or the word removed. It really did seem the USOC wanted to be excessively vindictive and cause as much financial pain as possible, which only made our athletes dig their heels in even further.

More Team L.A. members proudly wearing their "Gay Olympics" shirts

Not a single member of Team Los Angeles covered over the word “Olympic” on our Opening Ceremony t-shirt. Our thought was “if they want to arrest us over the use of a simple word, then come and get us!” We were ready for that fight.

Attorney and Olympic swimmer Susan McGrievy in 2009

To see a video interview about the USOC case with activist attorney (and torch bearer at Gay Games I) Susan McGrievy, click HERE.

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"Gay Olympic Games" banner at Reno Gay Pride, June 1982

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GENE DERMODY: I got to San Francisco ten days before the Opening of Gay Games I as a wrestler from New York City. The California Superior Court decision had come down a week before my arrival. I was not involved with San Francisco Arts & Athletics, but because of my friendship with Don Jung and his involvement with Golden Gate Wrestling Club, and the planning of the wrestling event, I became a keen observer.

(L) Gay Olympic Games poster before and after defacing. (R) Tom Waddell covering the "O" word

Don worked as a wrestling coach at Mission High School on 18th Street, not far from the Castro District. He was the artist who designed the Gay Games I poster art used on the one very striking Gay Olympic Games poster (human form icons of each sport). They were the posters where the word OLYMPIC was eventually crossed out - purposely, but not very well - and manually fixed around the Castro where they were already posted in windows. Don was obviously upset at having his artwork defaced, but c’est la vie.

Another unaltered Gay Olympic Games poster

San Francisco Arts & Athletics, the nonprofit that produced Gay Games I and II that evolved to become the Federation of Gay Games, had no “excess” funds, according to SFAA Board member Paul Mart. Board member Sara Lewinstein only had a few dozen of these posters, and carefully guarded them as they were valuable.

I remember going around the Castro one night with Don to cross out the word “Olympic” on the posters. We also went to a few Polk Street bars as well. The patrons were not keen on defacing the posters, but SFAA apparently was under pressure to clean up.

Flag Corps performing at the Opening Ceremony. If you look closely, the word "Olympic" is marked over on their shirts

I do not remember Don doing any other object defacing. Most of that defacing work was done by Sara’s people. There was not a lot of swag with the word “Olympic” on it to sell to begin with. Printing was very expensive, and carefully managed. I had one of the original grey T-Shirts with blue lettering “Gay Olympics” on it, and finally wore it until it was threadbare.

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

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