On Monday, October 16, West Hollywood City Councilmember John Heilman presented a City of West Hollywood flag to the athletes participating in the upcoming Gay Games XI in Guadalajara Mexico November 4-11.
Heilman is a Gay Games veteran himself, having played Volleyball at Gay Games III: Vancouver 1990, and served on the Advisory Board for Gay Games IX: Cleveland+Akron 2014.
On hand to accept the flag was Shamey Cramer, founder of Team Los Angeles for the inaugural Gay Games in 1982, and a Gay Games XI finalist for the Tom Waddell Award. Joining him were representatives from CheerLA, LA Frontrunners, Los Angeles Tennis Association, Southern California Wrestling Club and West Hollywood Aquatics, including President Isaac Trumbo; and other non-affiliated participants.
The Team LA / WH representatives are pictured with West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shane (holding the left corner of the flag), Council members Chelsea Byers, and Lauren Meister,, Mayor Pro Temper John Erickson, and Council Member Heilman (on the far right).
Below are the remarks Cramer delivered to the council:
Thank you Councilmember Heilman, and Mayor Shyne, Mayor Pro Temp Erickson, Members Meister and Byers, as we gather on the ancestral lands of the Tongva and Kizh people.
Before you stands representatives of the more than 120 athletes competing in 15 of 20 sports from West Hollywood and greater Los Angeles, under the banner of Team Los Angeles / West Hollywood.
Guadalajara is incorporating the Día los Muertos theme throughout the Gay Games. As a way to respect that theme, we are asking our Team LA / WH athletes to carry a photo of a fallen team-mate or loved one whose spirit will be with us as we enter during Opening Ceremony.
One of those photos will be of Ron Stone. I knew Ron through his leadership on the West Hollywood Cityhood Initiative in the early 1980s where he earned the moniker “The Father of West Hollywood.” Ron was also a member of West Hollywood Aquatics, so it is only fitting that we celebrate his life and contributions that led to the creation of this flag, which is a symbol for Freedom and Possibilities for so many, all across the globe.
These will be the first Gay Games not held in Europe or an English-speaking country; and the first to take place in Asia and Latin America.
The increase in participation from Latin American and Asian countries is already noticeable. Guadalajara aquatics event, for example, nearly forty percent of the registrants are from Mexico, Central and South America. Next year, both the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics and International Gay & Lesbian Football (soccer) will hold their championship tournaments in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Collectively, this is a monumental step forward in building queer sports and culture communities in countries where identifying as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community often requires courage and defiance to come out, often at great personal risk.
As the Gay Games slogan states: “Games Change the World.” In many ways, those participating at these Gay Games - especially those competing in their first Gay Games - will experience many of the same emotions that us Gay Games pioneers felt when we broke barriers participating in the inaugural Gay Games in San Francisco forty-one years ago.
I couldn’t be more proud to lead this contingent of athletes and artists from West Hollywood and Los Angeles as we embark upon this Journey together, promoting the Gay Games motto of Participation, Inclusion, Personal Best.; Thank you for your recognition and continued support, best of success to our friends in Hong Kong, y Vamanos Guadalajara!