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Federation of Gay Games News

Here you will find all the latest news from The Federation of Gay Games and on sport and culture in our community. 

If you have any news you would like to include or have any media enquiries please contact the relevant person on our contact page.

You can also check out the history of the Gay Games in photos and videos by visiting our massive online archives HERE.

  • 11 Feb 2019 14:16 | Anonymous
    On Saturday 9 February, the Federation of Gay Games honored member and local sports organizations, heroes, and a local business with its annual Legacy Awards held at Fort Lauderdale's GYM Sports Bar. Congratulations to the following recipients: IGBO (FLIRT tournament and the seven LGBT leagues who all bowl in the area, SFSF (local Women’s softball)SFAAA (local Men’s softball), the Local Cultural Organization, South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, and local hero Jason Shervinsky 

    Also, special thanks to GYM Sports Bar for hosting the awards event. "Whenever the FGG meets in a city, we love to celebrate the community's sports and cultural organizations, and local people who make a difference, and we always do it in a way that supports local business. We had a great turnout at GYM Bar and were able to bring together our community for a combined evening of fun. We all work hard to make a difference to the world and it's lovely to be able to recognize people who do this whenever we can," said Shiv Paul, FGG Officer of Communications. Eddie Young, the FGG Officer of Ceremonies added "Local artists and athletes are the heartbeat of the FGG. Their energy, time, and talent inspires me to keep giving back to my own community, and to our global family."

    Here are some photos of the award recipients with FGG Board members (photos: Shiv Paul):

    The Federation of Gay Games presented the Outstanding Cultural Organization award to the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble. Pictured (left to right): Sean Fitzgerald (FGG Co-President), Eddie Young (Officer of Ceremonies), Adam DeRosa (President, SFPWE), Beth Barbuto (SFPWE), Joanie Evans (FGG Co-President).

  • 28 Jan 2019 15:13 | Anonymous

    Reprinted from the Bay Area Reporter, 23 January 2019

    By Roger Brigham

    Gay Games Sports Officers Reggie Snowden, left, and Kimberly Hadley.  

    At the annual membership meeting of the Federation of Gay Games last year, two longtime inclusive sports activists — track athlete Reggie Snowden of San Francisco and veteran soccer official Kimberly Hadley of Edmonton, Alberta — were elected male and female sports officers. I recently asked both of them via email about the importance of volunteering in LGBT-inclusive sports and their thoughts about the future of the Gay Games.

    "As a long-serving member of the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association board, I understood the importance of volunteering my time. I have a great belief that organizing sports events for LGBTQ+ individuals provides a opportunity for creating a catalyst for positive change," Hadley wrote. "I have been a professional soccer referee for 43 years and have served as the North American referee director for the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association since 2007. My first involvement with the Gay Games was as a referee during Gay Games VIII in Cologne, Germany in 2010. Since then, I was responsible for soccer referees during both Gay IX in 2014 and Gay Games X in 2018."

    Snowden said that he has been a strong supporter and participant of Gay Games since 1994.

    "When I was 29, I was excited to attend the Gay Games in New York City competing in track and field," he wrote. "I competed in the 110-m hurdles, 400-m hurdles, triple jump, long jump and 4x400 relay. As a hurdler, I have always enjoyed the mechanics of the event and was fortunate enough to have some top coaches help me out along the way. I was All American my senior year in high school.

    "After competing in college, I stopped for a few years," he added. "When I moved to San Francisco in 1992 and I heard about Gay Games in 1993, I was thrilled to train again. I have also participated in the Gay Games in Sydney, Cologne, and Cleveland, but ended up nursing a knee injury prior to Paris. After being a delegate for International Front Runners to the FGG, the next natural step was to bring my experience as an avid athlete to the federation."

    The two were asked about Gay Games' greatest strengths.

    "Participation, inclusion, and personal best — that says it all," Hadley wrote.

    Snowden wrote, "I think the greatest strength is having the ability to bring the community together globally every four years. It's amazing how many friends I have made since 1994 due to attending Gay Games. Regardless of the levels that range from beginning runners to competitive runners, I have witnessed long-lasting relationships that have formed. Due to social media, a lot of us are able to keep connected. Also, I believe one of the strengths has been with communications from year to year in most sports."

    As for improvements, the two offered some ideas.

    "The FGG is the leader in the LGBTQ+ sports and cultural global community," wrote Hadley. "We are not a political organization — that isn't our role. Being able to continue to provide opportunities in new areas of the world where we haven't had a large visibility to date is vital to reaching those individuals who need our help. I have continued to encourage the FGG to create smaller versions of the event and hold them in underrepresented areas of the world where they may become an even greater impact than the current event itself. This hasn't come to fruition yet, but I have confidence that it will."

    Snowden said it would be great to see Gay Games in Africa or a Latin American country eventually.

    "The impact would be amazing. It was great to participate in Amsterdam in 1998 and to see the excitement on European soil for the first time," he wrote. "I met new athletes I would have not been able to have met before. The same can be said for Sydney and even Cleveland. It was foreign soil for me because I had never been to that region of my own country. Hong Kong will be amazing in 2022 and I'm honored to be on board to face the challenges with organizing this event with all the knowledge gained from previous years."

    Hadley and Snowden were asked what led them to volunteer for the sports officer positions.

    "This became a natural step for me to take with my extensive background with participation in various sports, as well as the organizing of single and multi-sports international events over the years," Hadley wrote.

    Snowden explained, "I have been organizing events since college as a resident adviser when I organized softball, volleyball, and basketball tournaments. After moving to San Francisco, I have always remained active with our community by volunteering for city officials and working with nonprofit organizations."

    He said that he's organized two San Francisco Pride Runs.

    "This has inspired me to give back to the community that has inspired me for many years," Snowden added. "The efforts of the federation to keep founder Dr. Tom Waddell's dream alive through sport has encouraged me to bring my efforts to keeping Gay Games alive."

    The two were asked about their greatest Gay Games memory.

    "Seeing the expressions on the faces of new participants — especially those who had received a scholarship in order to attend," Hadley wrote. "To speak with these individuals after they have experienced a life-changing opportunity and hear from them what it is that they will do to invigorate and share their experiences while keeping the momentum going once they return to their homelands."

    Snowden said it was closing ceremonies in New York.

    "After all the athletes gathered outside of the stadium in New York City, it was the closing of an amazing week of competition and great relief by competing at the top in the 18-29 age group and to walk away with four gold medals and a silver," he wrote. "As the SF Track and Field Club came around the corner, I had my training partner, Gwynn Villegas, on my shoulders. As we entered the stadium, almost every seat was filled as we heard a voice yell, 'Hey, SF Track & Field! Look this way — SF Chronicle!' The next day, the memory was in the San Francisco Chronicle for an unforgettable moment."

    As for World Outgames, Hadley said she wants people to know that FGG carefully considered the offer to have one event.

    "My hope is that the LGBTQ+ sporting world understands that the FGG did its due diligence when it came down to the talks for the opportunity to create a 'One World Event.' In the end, it was the lack of transparency and the lack of proper documentation when it came down to financial disclosure that determined that the FGG needed to continue onward and upward as the global LGBTQ+ event," she wrote.

    "Going forward, I would hope to see that those in the community that were split between Outgames and the Gay Games will understand that we will be here for the long haul," Hadley added. "We already have been an organization for 41 years now. We have shown complete transparency within our bid process, site selection, board member elections, etc. I feel that this portrays the professionalism that is within the organization. I hope that this will be recognized and acknowledged by those that may have been 'loyal' to Outgames and will open their eyes to the commitment of the FGG moving forward."

    Snowden said that the arguments over the competing organizations hurt the community "by casting doubt on LGBTQ events with participants who did not even realize there was a difference between the two organizations.

    "I know some participants who lost faith and didn't participate or even attend Gay Games in Paris," he wrote. "On the other hand, it has presented a challenge for the FGG to successfully communicate this to former and future participants. It will also serve as a reminder for folks to know the history."

    One of the biggest challenges facing previous Gay Games has been gender parity, with a large majority of participants being men. Hadley and Snowden were asked about that.

    "Steps are already being taken informally by organizing women-specific events," Hadley wrote. "I think there's great opportunity to partner with women's sports organizations and trying to create unique experiences for women. I also feel that it's important for conversation to be created with women to find out why they have had limited participation or haven't been participating at all. Is it too cost prohibitive? Does it feel like there's more attention at the events toward men's social activities versus women's?

    "Marketing is a huge component of that. There seems to be more dollars made available through sponsorship from men's bars and clubs then that of lesbian and transgender establishments," she added. "The Hong Kong host committee has already shown a very strong relationship with the women's/lesbian community so we hope that they can also share ideas of what has worked previous for them when organizing events. IGLFA has also seen limited participation at its women's tournaments over the years and I have started the IGLFA Women's, Transgender & Nonbinary Task Force. This group of people will be asked to identify any issues that they have while providing positive feedback to make change and support more participation."

    Snowden said that he saw a lot of women participating in a handful of sporting events at the recent Sin City Classic in Las Vegas.

    "The amount of gender parity was prevalent at the dodgeball event," he wrote. "I met with the organizer about this and look forward to a few more conversations about this. Visibility must be present and not forced or required to keep it organic. On the track, they added co-ed relays. We will plan to use social media to effectively attract more involvement."

    Gay Games, unlike other major sports events such as the Olympics, are controlled by organizations run entirely by the athletes themselves. Hadley and Snowden were asked about the impact that has had on Gay Games.

    "I think, for the most-part, having the athletes and artists themselves running the organization is a positive," wrote Hadley. "They're in closer contact with the overall 'feel' of the event. However, they are often limited with the appropriate amount of time because they are volunteers. Organizing an event takes an immense amount of work, energy, expertise, and time. It would be helpful to be able to afford to have a paid staff without it costing the organization a fortune."

    Snowden wrote, "To me, Gay Games is a unique event on various levels. Gay Games has remained a success due to celebration and liberation from the inception in 1982. One of the biggest benefits would be nurturing the relations built through sport and culture, on and off the field during Gay Games and, as time has passed and communications evolved, we, as athletes, participants, supporters and organizers are able to pass information on in between the years of Gay Games to keep the event moving in the right direction — from standards books with vital information, to our positions on the board with the federation."

    The next Gay Games are scheduled for Hong Kong. Hadley and Snowden talked about challenges and opportunities.

    "Every host city in every country has its challenges," Hadley wrote. "Hong Kong is definitely a new part of the world for the FGG to hold an event. Challenges foreseen may include actually being able to get the message out about the Gay Games coming to Hong Kong due to perceived censorship via the internet/social media channels. We hope that the reach is wide and far."

    Snowden cited communications and distance.

    "Gay Games have successfully taken place in other countries. Concerns were expressed based on language when we traveled to Amsterdam in 1998, Cologne in 2010, and even Paris last year, but we persevered," he wrote. "In regard to the actual sports, some sports such as volleyball, basketball, bowling, and swimming cannot be lost in translation. We will need to address practices or customs potentially in Hong Kong to make sure we aren't losing the mission of why Gay Games started with a focus on 'participation, inclusion and personal best.'"

  • 13 Dec 2018 18:08 | Anonymous

    Reprinted from the Bay Area Reporter

    by Roger Brigham
    Wednesday Dec 12, 2018

    The participation numbers were a fraction of what organizers first dreamed of. Competitions were able to be held in only two sports. To make matters worse, it rained like crazy. Take all of that into account and the inaugural AfroGames held last weekend were a rousing success, promising hope for the future.

    AfroGames founder Hlengiwe Buthelezi

    "I am happy that we were to host the AfroGames despite all the challenges, from an organizational point of view to challenges during the events," founder Hlengiwe Buthelezi, treasurer of KwaZulu Natal LGBT Recreation and an at-large board member of the Federation of Gay Games, told the Bay Area Reporter. "Honestly, I'm overwhelmed that this dream finally came true and nothing can sway us now."

    The AfroGames were held in Durban, South Africa after several years of planning. From the get-go, organizers faced financial, communication, and marketing issues on a continent with a post-colonial legacy of homophobic criminal laws — in some countries, including the death penalty for homosexual acts.

    Then again, that's largely what made the effort worthwhile.

    "When were speaking to the Ugandans, we had to hide and had to change different numbers and emails, because if the government realizes you're an activist, it starts to tap your phone number," Buthelezi said. "Keeping in contact was difficult."

    Buthelezi, 39, has competed in numerous Gay Games and built the AfroGames around that vision.

    "We're using the games in uniting people for inclusivity and use them to break the stigma of homophobia because most African countries have not decriminalized homosexuality," she previously told Gay Star News. "So what we wanted to do was to spread education through the sports and the arts."

    As organizational efforts adjusted to political and financial realities, plans for the athletic events were eventually cut down to five sports: netball, soccer, rugby, athletics, and squash. Then the rain hit, driving participation down further and forcing some events to be adjusted or dropped.

    "Unfortunately, not all of the planned sports were played because of heavy rain," Buthelezi said. "Soccer had to be canceled because of the rain. Squash had no turnout — players didn't arrive despite having RSVPed. The rugby on the first day had not much turnout due to pouring rain throughout the day, but we compensated by doing rugby coaching clinics."

    In the end, competition was held only in netball and track and field. Overall, roughly 50 athletes competed.

    The sports events were followed on Monday, December 10, International Human Rights Day, with a "Decolonizing LGBTI Rights in Africa" symposium.

    "First, we exercise our bodies on the Saturday and Sunday and on Monday we exercise our minds," AfroGames deputy chairperson Shaun Kruger said.

    "We had such a phenomenal delegation with most organizations represented — even Uganda and Nigeria were represented," Buthelezi said. "Our keynote speaker, Judge Edwin Cameroon, couldn't make it unfortunately, but sent us a video clip that we played at the beginning of the symposium."

    Buthelezi, who has been with her fiancée, Nompilo Ntuli ("She's such a phenomenal woman!") 10 years, said about 80 participants attended the symposium.

    "I was delighted to share with people the insight on what the Gay Games are and how they are a life-changing experience, hence AfroGames," she said. "To this day, I am really grateful to the Gay Games scholarship team that made it possible for us to be able to participate in Gay Games. The FGG is such a significant body from which I got the experience and was motivated to make a difference in Africa."

    Buthelezi said she anticipates growing the AfroGames.

    "Whew! I am overwhelmed by the fact that it ultimately happened despite all the challenges we faced," she said. "The main challenge was the funds. Thanks to the Other Foundation and some FGG members who donated to our GoFundMe account."

    Photos and videos from the event are available on the Afro Games 2018 Facebook page.

    Contact the columnist at

  • 25 Nov 2018 23:24 | Anonymous

    It is with great pride that we share the news that Hlengiwe Buthelezi has won the 2018 Feather Award as Sports Personality of the Year.

    Buthelezi, from Durban, South Africa, won the award due to her Gay games Paris achievements, many years of LGBTQ+ activism, and the founding the AfroGames (coming up in early December).

    These were the 10th annual Feather Awards and honoured the best LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ affirming celebrities, activists, and public figures. The 2018 Feather Awards took place on Thursday, 15 November and were hosted by Somizi Mhlongo.

    In Hlengiwe's category (Sports Personality of the Year award), there were three finalists, but she was chosen.

    Hlengiwe is a long-term Gay Games participants and was elected to the FGG Board as an At-Large Member at the annual meeting in Paris following Gay Games 10.

    Congratulations, Hlengiwe!

  • 25 Nov 2018 21:26 | Anonymous

    Thousands came and spent millions last August at the tenth edition of the Gay Games, organized by Paris 2018.  The total economic impact of this global event was over 100€ million, according to a study released the week of Nov. 19, 2018.

    "We are thrilled that the Gay Games were such a success for Paris and the Ile de France economy. First-time visitors remarked about how welcoming and impressive Paris was, and some were planning a return trip before they even left town!” 

    – Pascale Reinteau, Co-President, Paris 2018

    “Paris and the Ile de France region truly benefited thousands of visitors during the week of Gay Games 10, and we are already experiencing long-term gains. The Village Festival during the Games was such a success that we hope this event will be held every year on its own. Support from the city, region, and state, including Ministries, agencies, national sport federations, and also from 3,000 volunteers, was crucial to the success of the event.”
     – Manuel Picaud, Co-President, Paris 2018

    Participants were asked about their spending in a post-event survey. Among the results:

           40% of the 10,317 participants in Paris 2018-Gay Games 10 live outside of the Paris metro area.

           Locals and non-locals spent 66€ million in the main sectors of the economy, including hotels, restaurants, bars and gas stations.

           An additional 41.6€ million was generated in local income, roughly the equivalent of 1,429 full-time jobs at an average annual salary of 29,000€.


  • 22 Oct 2018 16:58 | Anonymous

    The Federation of Gay Games announces that one of its founders and organizers, Paul K. Mart, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Thursday October 18, 2018 at his home in Palm Springs. He was 100 years old. However, rather than announce this with sadness, we want to celebrate the life and legacy of this extraordinary and dynamic individual who was instrumental in fighting for the rights and recognition of his community, and the world, by being part of the Gay Games and a World War II resistance fighter.

    Paul founded the Gay Games with Dr. Tom Waddell and Mark Brown. An avid bodybuilder, his love of sport and passion for inclusion made him an integral part of the creation and direction of the Gay Games. In the Games’ infancy, Paul was a tireless ambassador, traveling throughout Australia, Europe, and North America to recruit participants and encouraging the founding of LGBT sports clubs. He was honored for this work with the Tom Waddell Award, the FGG’s highest honor, of which he was the first ever recipient at Gay Games III in Vancouver in 1990.

    San Francisco's Gene Dermody, winner of the Tom Waddell Award in 2014, began his friendship with Paul during preparations for the 1986 Gay Games. “When you talked with him, he had an incredibly active mind, a very astute business acumen, and a very realistic perspective on what Gay Games II could expect," Dermody said. "His international traveling had given him a sane perspective of the state of LGBT politics everywhere, and I always believed his statements were based upon real life experiences."

    Current Co-President, Joanie Evans recalls Paul fondly with the following story: “At the 2013 AGA in Paris, he told me a story of when he was part of a group of American soldiers stationed in London to learn about our code system and he met Winston Churchill, who told him he was doing a great job. Wherever you were from, Paul had a story and you were lucky if it was a short one.”

    Before all this, however, Paul was a Hollywood stuntman and horse handler (he managed the horses in a scene from "Doctor Zhivago" in which cavalry officers attack and break up a crowd of anti-czar protesters). He also fought for his country and the world during World War II. He served as an undercover agent for the Allied Forces against Field Marshall Rommel, for which he was awarded two purple hearts and the Silver Star.

    His love and determination has shaped the Gay Games into what it is today, a loving and embracing home for the disenfranchised, the marginalized and the unaccepted.

    Paul, an Honorary Life Member of the FGG, will be missed but his legacy in the Games lives on.

    A video tribute to Mart is available on YouTube. Click HERE

    Here are a few photos of Paul. See the link above for more photos.

    Gay Games founders: Mark Brown (far left), Tom Waddell (second from left), Paul Mart (far right).

    Paul Mart after receiving the inaugural Tom Waddell Award at Gay Games III in Vancouver in 1990.

    Military man Paul Mart.

    Stunt man Paul Mart in his Hollywood days.

  • 21 Oct 2018 23:29 | Anonymous

    At the 4 August VIP reception in Paris just prior to the Gay Games 10 Opening Ceremony, the small group of "loyalists" who had participated in every one of the Gay Games were honored. See the earlier post about this event.

    Two of these "loyalists" were in Paris but were unable to attend this reception. That wrong was made right on 7 October at the Castro Street Fair in San Francisco. FGG Officer of Marketing was honored to be able to present Legacy Medals to "loyalists" Rick Thoman (track & field) and Seth Shapiro (photographer), both from the San Francisco area. Rick was thoughtful enough to wear is Paris 2018 t-shirt for the occasion.

    Congratulations to Rick and Seth!

    Above: Gay Games loyalist Rick Thoman.

    Above: Gay Games loyalist Seth Shapiro.

  • 26 Aug 2018 19:06 | Anonymous

    On 25 August, Gay Games co-founder Paul Mart celebrated his 100th birthday.

    Left to right: Steve Pezzoli, Paul Mart, and Gene Dermody

    Attending a small party in Palm Springs, CA was Gay Games Honorary Life Member and participant in every Gay Games Gene Dermody. Gene was accompanied by fellow Wrestlers WithOut Borders member Steve Pezzoli. Gene and Paul are both former recipients of the prestigious Tom Waddell Award, the FGG's highest honor.

    Said Gene Dermody, "Paul was as chipper and zingy as ever. Steve Pezzoli and I filled Paul in on the great success of Paris 2018 and showed him our wrestling Gold medals. We discovered as part of the research for Michael Collins' film that Paul was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for his World War II service North Africa as a spy."

    Paul Mart has lived a most amazing life. No single article can do justice to what Paul has achieved. But, to read an excellent retrospective about Paul. click HERE.

    In Gene Dermody's quote above, he refers to a short film about Paul that has been made by Michael Collins. To see this film, click HERE.

    Everyone within the Federation of Gay Games wishes Paul a very happy 100th birthday. You are a true hero to all of us!

  • 22 Jul 2018 13:07 | Anonymous

    Award-winning documentary, featuring spectacular Gay Games footage, opens 24 August in NYC; 14 September in Los Angeles

    Using the storytelling techniques of dramatic cinema, HOT TO TROT is an intimate account of a captivating, little-known phenomenon: same-sex competitive ballroom dance, a world where expressions of personal passion become a political statement. Away from their graceful turns on the dance floor, the characters’ backstories frame their struggles.

    The film chronicles charismatic Ernesto, a former meth addict from Costa Rica who strives for success and love; Emily, a lifelong type 1 diabetic, who has to wear an insulin pump 24/7 to manage her disease; Nikolai, a dazzling dance champ who came out only a few years ago and longs for his Russian family’s acceptance; and Kieren, who grew up in a conservative New Zealand military environment and wrestles with how to balance career and commitment to dance.

    The film follows these dancers over several years, as their relationships develop and deepen, and the spectacle of the Gay Games, the pinnacle of same-sex competitive ballroom dance, approaches. They are emblems of LGBTQ politics, writ small—but they are living the issues, rather than working them. As they evolve, they demonstrate, vividly and personally, the dimensions of the LGBTQ politics we all read about.

    HOT TO TROT opens in the following cities:

    New York, NY; Quad Cinema, Opens August 24, 2018
    Stamford, CT; Avon Theatre, September 6, 2018
    Los Angeles, CA; Laemmle Music Hall, Opens September 14, 2018
    Lafayette, LA; Cane Fire Film Series, September 17, 2018
    And select cities nationwide coming soon!

    Learn more about this 88-minute documentary at:

    See the HOT TO TROT trailer HERE

  • 30 Jun 2018 10:27 | Anonymous

    History was made Friday morning (29 June) when (pro soccer player) Minnesota United FC midfielder Collin Martin came out in a tweet on his personal Twitter account.

    Two articles reprinted from
    Articles by Jeremy Brener and Cyd Zeigler

    Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

    By Jeremy Brener June 29, 2018 11:07am PDT

    The announcement comes just hours before Minnesota United hosts their Pride Night tonight against FC Dallas.

    Martin is the second openly gay player in Major League Soccer’s history with the first being Robbie Rogers back in 2013.

    Martin has been in Major League Soccer for the past six seasons and has spent the last two seasons with Minnesota United after spending his first four with D.C. United.

    Currently, Martin is now the only openly gay male active player in any major pro sports league in the United States. Hopefully his coming out will now inspire others to do the same. In 2018, the more visibility, the better.

    Congratulations to Collin on coming out and thank you for your visibility and courage to #BeTrue.



    MLS’ Collin Martin shows us all the true heart of sports: acceptance and love.

    By Cyd Zeigler  Jun 29, 2018, 9:55am PDT

    American men’s pro sports again have an openly gay athlete.

    Collin Martin, a midfielder with Minnesota United, has come out publicly as gay in celebration of his club’s Pride Night later today. In doing so, Martin has shone a very bright light on the reality of acceptance in men’s pro sports.

    Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

    When he takes the field tonight, Martin will be only the third publicly out gay man to play in a major pro sports regular season game in North America, following Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers.

    In the coming days and week’s we’ll get to know this young man better. We’ll get to know him in a way he’s never let the public — fans and the media — see him.

    Right now, what stands out about his statement, along with the beautiful photograph of him literally wrapping himself in a rainbow flag for Pride month, is what it says about the state of sports today and the courage of one man to step into the light.

    Martin’s coming out will both change the sports world and shine a light on just how far we’ve come.

    His age and place in his career are huge parts of the conversation. This isn’t a retired athlete, or someone at the end of his career. Like Rogers, and the NFL’s Michael Sam, Martin has potentially years of playing days left ahead of him. He started seven matches for the United last season and three so far this year.

    The young man’s courage is apparent, but just as newsworthy is his unwavering confidence in his club, teammates, coaches, fans and the league to absorb this news, celebrate it, and quickly move on.

    “I have received only kindness and acceptance from everyone in Major League Soccer,” Martin said in a statement, “and that has made the decision to come out publicly that much easier.”

    Pro sports teams and leagues across America are ready to accept gay athletes.

    He went on to thank his teammates for their support, and to encourage other professional athletes to see what he has found: Pro sports teams and leagues across America are ready to accept gay athletes.

    This part of his story, focusing on the broad acceptance in sports today, may be the most lasting part of his announcement.

    While many continue to falsely paint the sports world as unwelcoming to LGBTQ people, and in particular gay men, who come out, we know that acceptance across leagues and locker rooms is widespread.

    Martin’s coming out, and his very clear statement of league-wide support, shines a very bright light on that.

    While soccer around the world (and in patches here in the United States) deals with outward homophobia, particularly from fans, the sport has also given rise to a surprising number of trailblazers. Justin Fashanu stunned the sport when he came out publicly in 1990. Robbie Rogers was the first out man to play in one of America’s Big Five sports in 2013, after the LA Galaxy had traded the league’s leading scorer to get him. Others like Anton Hysen and Ryan Atkin have continued the conversation in men’s professional soccer.

    Now Martin adds another chapter to the sport’s legacy in advancing the conversation of acceptance in men’s pro sports.

    With Martin’s announcement, now two of the three men to publicly come out while on a regular-season roster in North America have been in Major League Soccer. The league is clearly doing something right in conveying to its clubs and players that the front office offers unwavering support to athletes who will come out. This is to the credit of people across the league.

    Every time an athlete comes out, people ask if “the dam has broken,” and if we’ll now see a flood of athletes come out. No, we won’t. Coming out is a personal decision, and no one moment will suddenly open the flood gates for gay athletes to come out.

    Yet Martin’s courage will inspire others, whether they are in high school or pro sports. His statement of support from across the sport will open people’s eyes. It’s no longer a question of “if” more gay athletes will come out, but “when.”

    Either way, we’re again at a place where no one can say it’s impossible to be out and gay in men’s pro sports. We have Martin to thank for that.

© 2020 The Federation of Gay Games

The Newsletter of the FGG



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