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"Passing The Torch" Post 40a of 40

05 Sep 2022 14:00 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

Gay Games I: Closing Ceremony

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 40a of 40 - 5 September - Gay Games I: Closing Ceremony

“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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Jack Gonzales and Team LA at the Gay Games I Closing Ceremony

JACK GONZALES: The last day of these Games took us all back to Kezar Stadium. Everyone was tired, but we all still had enough energy to celebrate these first Games. We all marched into the stadium as we did on Opening ceremony. Except this time, most of the athletes mingled with newfound friends, buddies & boyfriends. Since these 'first Games', I had been to six additional Gay Games. They still pale in comparison to 1982.

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Chris Van Scoyk at the Closing Ceremony

Richard Hunter (L) and Ric Bohner (R) carrying the Los Angeles banner

SHAMEY CRAMER: As we lined up to walk into Kezar Stadium for Closing Ceremonies in 1982, I was at the head of the contingent, directly behind Frank Medrano carrying the City of Los Angeles flag, and swimmers Richard Hunter and Ric Bohner carrying the Team Los Angeles banner. Of course, both of them were bare-chested, with Richard's 12 Gold medals shining brightly against his bronzed bare chest, perfectly set above his rippled 8-pack abs. He truly was the star of those Games, and the focus of many the camera, deservedly so.

In 2012, L to R, Tretter Collection Advisory Board members: Adam Robbins, Jesse Field, Jean-Nickolaus Tretter, Shamey Cramer

During the final entertainment portion of the Closing Ceremony, my Team LA Co-chair Rand Wiseman-Curtright introduced me to Jean-Nickolaus Tretter, a competitor in cycling. Jean, who was in his mid-thirties at the time, was the Founder/Co-Chair for Team Minnesota, along with Robin Karas (I would later discover many things about Jean’s contributions to the LGBTQ+ community, including having been a founder of Twin Cities Pride; handling an extraordinary amount of pre-production and logistical work for the Gay Olympics at Tom Waddell’s behest; and is one of our global queer community’s chief archivists. He is also the namesake for the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection for GLBT Studies at the University of Minnesota).

As Stephanie Mills sang her heart out on stage, Jean and I stood in the middle of the field having an in-depth discussion on what was needed in order to form a coalition of team leaders and develop an international governing body, completely oblivious to the fact we were surrounded by all these exuberant, bronzed beauties celebrating with wild abandon.

Once a policy wonk, always a policy wonk, I guess!

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Doug Orloff in 2022 with his framed medals from Gay Games I and the 1983 Los Angeles Festival Games

DOUG ORLOFF: All those “first” sports events were so important to me and the Pride Movement. We showed that gay athletes could compete at the highest levels and it gave society a different lens to see us through. We weren’t just party people; we were jocks, too. The whole experience gave me confidence to be myself and be out and proud. It also gave me a lifelong and dear friend in Jeff Shotwell. We remain very close after 40 years and that was all possible because of Gay Games I.

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Charlie Carson at the Gay Games I Closing Ceremony

CHARLIE CARSON: Up early and will survive although I have the GALA/COAST meeting. Seattle’s Tom Mann makes a speech to support COAST, saying it’s well organized so far. They approve constitution and by-laws. Don talks of the halls and Gary of the festival chorus. I talk about the budget, as it’s too late to fundraise and the choruses will have to pay for it. It’s a good meeting and nice to get a final GALA commitment. Walk to Kezar and grab fast food for lunch as time is short before…

Gay Games Closing Ceremony. Athletes hanging around outside can’t hear what goes on and it takes a long time – I could’ve gotten slow food. The sun is shining brightly and we New Yorkers in our long-sleeved shirts, red ties and jeans are getting warm. Finally start the march at 2:30 and balloons are in an arc over a dance floor! Armistead Maupin emcees; Congressman Phil Burton speaks again; the choral festival sings with an orchestra and several of us athlete/choristers run over to join for the finale of The Testament of Freedom and Torches in the Wind. Lawyer Mary Dunlap says they will fight the USOC. There will be another Gay Games in 1986, probably in S.F.!! For a good hour and a half, we celebrate with a tea dance. Stephanie Mills entertains with Sweet Sensation, Never Knew Love Like This Before, and some Vegas-y ballads. Shirts and tops are off, dancing until 6 or so with: Walk Right Now; Trippin’ on the Moon; Don’t You Want Me; Tainted Love; You Can Get Over; Designer Music; Fire in My Heart. The songs were played three times in different sequence, and we figure the D.J. didn’t bring enough music, not expecting people would stay on the stadium floor so long. Take pictures with Steve, Jeff and Frank of Atlanta, Terry of Chicago, Dana. Walk up in the stands to savor it all. Big conga line snakes all over the stadium floor. Bye to Ron and Frank and New Yorkers – surely we’ll have more athletes from NYC next time when others find out how much fun we’ve had. Keep telling myself, “I was here!” MUNI bus back to Dominic’s and nap.

Café Sacramento – suddenly, it’s clear the Californians are heading home tonight because I don’t see any of the L.A. guys. The Midnight Sun does have a crowd, including Sacramento’s Scott and Andy, and we say goodbye. Head out with S.F. swimmers and Dana to dive bars in the Polk Street district. Cab back to the Castro with Dana and walk through the streets one last time. The Gay Games feels solidly over.

On Monday, Jeff and I leave at separate times. Newspaper – the Gay Games’ closing is kept out of the headlines because last night in San Francisco Mary Martin and Janet Gaynor were hurt in a car accident. We do hear good news that the Gay Games broke about even! Dominic takes me to the airport – nice of him. Big Denver group is leaving same time, many in their chorus. Take a group picture. This has turned out to be far more than I expected. Back to NYC mid-evening and early enough to get good sleep. After a week in heaven, it’s back to earth and a normal workday tomorrow.

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Mauro Bordovsky at Gay Games I

MAURO BORDOVSKY: Great friendships and bonding were formed during training for and participation in the Gay Games I. I’m still friends with some of the swimmers who swam at those Games. We look forward to seeing one another and taking photos together at subsequent Gay Games.

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

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