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.

  • 30 Aug 2022 10:53 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Gay Games I: Spreading the Word and Tom Wins Gold


    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 34 of 40 - 29 August: Gay Games I: Spreading the Word and Tom Wins Gold

    “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.

    * * *

        
    Top: Tom Waddell throwing the javelin; Middle: Gay Games I medals; Bottom: Tom (left) with other medal winners 

    * * *

    SARA WADDELL LEWINSTEIN: I got the Dykes on Bikes to be our sports messengers during the Games. They brought us all the results for our 15 sports… daily, and everyday, so we could post everything. It was quite the sight for all of our eyes. Tom took the Gold medal in a few track and field events. Javelin was his best!

    * * *

      
    International Male store in West Hollywood and IM print ad

    SHAMEY CRAMER: Three weeks after I founded Team Los Angeles in late June, my boyfriend died in a freeway auto accident. Since I used the last of my paid vacation days to attend his funeral, I couldn’t afford to take time off to spend the entire week in San Francisco.

    On Monday, 30 August, my Team LA Co-chair Rand Wiseman-Curtright called me at my office to convey all the results he had accumulated. I wrote everything down as fast as I could, but it was impossible not to get choked up hearing the excitement and pride in his voice.

    After typing up the information as a two-sided news sheet, I then ran off several hundred copies on the photocopy machine. After work, I took the bus into West Hollywood and get off in front of International Male clothing store, on the west side of West Hollywood. I would proceed to walk all the way home to my apartment on Sycamore – which was just under three miles – stopping in every bar and business where there would be gay people, and passed out the info sheet.


    Team Los Angeles athlete (wearing "Olympic" t-shirt) on the Gay Games I track

    Although people were wondering what I was doing the first night or two, once people saw it was me approaching the last two days, they got all excited to see what the latest news was coming out of San Francisco. Since there was barely any media coverage outside of the Bay Area on the Gay Games, providing this kind of immediate information “guerrilla-style” was the only way to get the word out in those pre-Internet days.

    I did this every day that week before flying up to San Francisco on Friday evening.

    * * *

        
    Charlie Carson with fellow medal-winning swimmers poolside and around town. Note the woman in the second photo has the word "Olympic" crossed out on her shirt

    CHARLIE CARSON: After the warmup we have a coach’s meeting, much of it led by Morri Spang of Minneapolis. We agree no more ad hoc relays being put together among individual swimmers now that we know each other’s abilities. Slightly annoyed, but I get it. Nobody likes the format of two days of prelims with two nights of finals, the nonstandard age groups, the one-entry-per-city rule; we’ll urge a sanctioned Masters format if there’s a second Gay Games. Today’s events start at 11:30. Qualify first in the 100 Fly this time – wow. Fourth in 100 Individual Medley. 50 Breast is a joke and missing qualifying is good for my humility. Telegram to L.A. coach, Dr. Michael Roth, from a patient: “The best of luck in San Francisco. I’m very proud of you all.” – from Elizabeth Taylor (!).


    Richard Ferris, Chair of Gay Games I diving event

    Leave because the break is four hours until 6:30. Jeff stays to dive and is concerned because Diving Chair Richard Ferris is good. Getting to know Andy and Scott from Sacramento – already a couple at 19 and 20 and adorable. Eat at Norse Cove, then to City Athletic Center with L.A.’s Mauro Bordovsky, Mike Wallace, Frank, and others.  The jacuzzi hits the spot. Home for a nap and it’s back to the pool. Decide to skip the 50 Back I’m likely to qualify in because I can’t handle four finals on Wednesday night – the schedule really is insane. Watch and visit with others. L.A. and Berkeley dominate tonight’s relay finals.


    (L to R) Charlie Carson, Richard Hunter, Ron Kirkhoff

    Home with Jeff and the Castro is hopping. Hamburger Mary’s for dinner with Jeff, Frank and J.P. Lanctot (another from L.A.!). Meet up with other swimmers and head to the Oasis bar, a former hotel with a bar by the outdoor pool. We’re starting to be amazed at the lack of coverage in the local papers – isn’t this the most important thing in the city now? Then to the Midnight Sun, a video bar, with a hilarious Edith Prickley skit from SCTV and The Go-Go’s Vacation. Good crowd but we don’t stay out too late – the bigger finals races are still to come. Yup, I’m shaving.

    * * *

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

  • 29 Aug 2022 09:58 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Gay Games I: Bowling, Medals, and Swimming


    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 33 of 40 - 28 August: Gay Games I: Bowling, Medals, and Swimming

    “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.

    * * *


      
    Park Bowl: Site for Gay Games I and II bowling. Photos: Jim Hahn

    JAMES HAHN: The next morning, on Sunday, I bowled in Singles and did pretty well. However, later that afternoon, I learned that my favorite grandmother had passed away on the day of Opening Ceremony. This happened before the days of cell phones and all my mother knew was that I was in San Francisco. She actually tracked me down through the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and I got the message from the Reverend Mother.

    I did manage to place 18th and I thus made it to the next round, something I’ve done in each subsequent Gay Games, except for New York.

    [EDITOR’S NOTE: It was at the San Francisco Tavern Guild gay bowling leagues where Tom Waddell met Sara Lewinstein. Thus, the roots of the Gay Games can be traced to those leagues held at Park Bowl on Haight Street a half-block from Golden Gate Park.]

    * * *


    The Gay Games I medal

    SARA WADDELL-LEWINSTEIN: My women's bowling team won the Gold Medal. After receiving the medal and placing it around my neck, I quickly left for the Powerlifting / Weightlifting event, where I had been asked to give out their medals. When I walked into the facility, everything stopped! The place was full of people who all started standing up and clapping.

    I quickly turned to see what they were clapping at, only to find that the whole place was clapping for me! They had not seen the medals yet, and here I was, walking in wearing one of the very first ones to of been given out. I proceeded to hold up my medal for everyone to see, and they could not stop cheering. I was in tears holding it and could not believe what was happening.

    This was definitely a very special moment for me.

    * * *

       
    Charlie Carson (L); Hal Herkenhoff (R) at Gay Games I


    (L to R) Steve Smetzer; Ric Bohner; James Ozanich; GGI 50 yard Backstroke at Gay Games I. Photo: Charlie Carson

    CHARLIE CARSON: Morning of the first competition, with finals for longer distance events and the 100 yd. Mixed Gender Relays. See the heat sheets and I get that same old swim meet feeling I hadn’t had in six years. And then I tell myself I’m too old to be nervous and that calms me down: will just do my best. I’ve clipped my body hair but haven’t decided yet whether to shave down.

    Swimming has about 125 participants. The hot hunks are Richard Hunter of L.A., Chris Dale of Minnesota, and Berkeley’s Hal Herkenhoff. New York guy Blake shows up and says he wants to swim only the 50 Fly before heading to the Russian River. We’re in the same age group so the one-person-per-city rule governs. Since I’m in most all the other sprints I say OK.  Bomb the 200 IM – not happy with my time – still, seriously, what did I expect training on my own at NYU? But then I start qualifying for some event finals.

    Turns out there are no national caliber athletes. We are all pretty much second tier swimmers who had some local age group and, for a few, collegiate success – with several recreational swimmers like Australian Bobby Goldsmith who, during the warmups, we’re teaching to touch with two hands in breaststroke. Bobby entered almost every event in the 36-45 age group; he’s bubbly and charmingly clueless about swimming rules. I squeak through into the 50 Free at 6th. I’m second in the 100 Back and feel better. After Blake qualifies for the 50 Fly, we put together a 100 Mixed Medley Relay with Californians Allison Tierney and Karen Cagle. Our relay wins and I have a gold medal – the pressure is off! Yay! Do a Men’s 100 Medley Relay with Blake, Bobby Goldsmith and another guy (whose name I’ve forgotten), but we don’t place. Blake leaves for the Russian River.

    Jeff and the other divers can’t warm up because the 1650 Freestyle takes too long. He becomes fast friends with Minnesota’s Lynn Johnston, the only female diver. Swimmers hang out watching the track and field events next door. Meet Ron Kirkhoff and Steve Smetzer (L.A. – so many from L.A.!). In the showers afterwards, L.A.’s Rick Bohner says about me, “Look at those buns!” Café San Marcos for dinner. Hang out with Steve in the evening and head back to Dominic’s early to get plenty of sleep for tomorrow.

    * * *

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

  • 27 Aug 2022 23:34 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Gay Games I Opening Ceremony

    HAPPY 40TH ANNIVERSARY - GAY GAMES!!!


    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 32a of 40 - 28 August: 1982 - Gay Games I Opening 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.

    * * *


    Lighting of the torch at Gay Games I by George Frenn (L) and Susan McGrievy (R). Photo: Lisa Kanemoto

    To see a video of the Gay Games I Opening Ceremony and the lighting of the torch by Olympian Susan McGrievy, click HERE

    To see an interview with Susan McGrievy about the GGI Opening Ceremony , click HERE


    Chris Van Scoyk at Gay Games II in 1986

    CHRIS VAN SCOYK: The Opening Ceremony was held at Kezar Stadium and it was an unforgettable feeling of pride and exhilaration to march together with our team and teams from around the world. And dancing with Dana Cox from Seattle while listening to Tina Turner sing was totally sublime. Gosh, we were lucky to be part of the first Gay Games. For sure an experience that was a highlight of my life. San Francisco was so welcoming and we were treated like celebrities wherever we went in the city. I will never forget the emotions of that time. We knew we were making history for our community.

    * * *


    Entrance of the Board of Directors. Sara Waddell Lewinstein is third from the right, alongside Tom Waddell. Photo: Lisa Kanemoto


    The Gay Games Board on stage at the Opening Ceremony

    SARA WADDELL-LEWINSTEIN: My first memory is of the Board of Directors marching around the field at Kezar Stadium while leading the participating athletes to the stage. I had recently become the Co-Sports Director for the Games, after previously working on the Board of Directors as the Bowling Co-Chair and Women's Outreach Lead. Standing alongside me was Chris Puccinelli, Zohn Artman, and Dr. Tom Waddell. And as we lined up, alternating between men and women, we held hands, full of excitement and pride for having been able to successfully kick off this incredible event that brought us all together.

    * * *


    The Gay Games I Opening Ceremony. Photo: Lisa Kanemoto

    JACK GONZALES: My arrival in San Francisco for Gay Games started in the Castro district. We had to register with photo IDs at a school. It is also where we met our host (for those of us who requested housing). I recall the city being very active with the influx of thousands of people. San Francisco was the perfect city to host these first Games. AIDS / HIV was around, but still in the early stages. One saw no evidence or concern about this soon to be Gay Epidemic. Everyone was in a joyous mood. The City was very busy. Restaurants and bars/nightclubs were packed nightly.



    The San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps performing at the GGI Opening Ceremony 

    For its first large scale event of this magnitude, it was well organized with no noticeable mishaps. It definitely helped if you were the type of person that can move forward in any circumstance. I recall the Opening Ceremony at Kezar Stadium. All the different cities and countries were dressed to represent their respective teams. It was very inspiring with a splash of awe when we walked into the stadium. There were so many people in the stands. The athletes walked into the stadium with their team/city. We stood / sat while we listened to the various speakers. The entertainment was Tina Turner. She was magnificent. She gave everyone additional energy through her singing & music. It was wild. At the conclusion, everyone emptied the venue on their way to dinner, dancing or wherever.

    * * *


    The Gay Games I stage where Ken Ward and his fellow musicians were supposed to play. Armistead Maupin is speaking

    KEN WARD: A jazz band which had been recently formed out of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps, and was run by an absolutely CRAZY musician named Guy Foster-Hayden. This preceded the formation of the City Swing Big Band by 2 years. The Foster-Hayden band was asked to open for Tina Turner who was the entertainer for the Opening Ceremony. We were ready to go but were then told that there was a problem with the sound system, so we would have to wait a while. We waited and waited and waited, and eventually were told that the sound system would not be fixed in time for us to play before Tina Turner. BUMMERRRRRRRRR! Our big chance squelched.

      
    The San Francisco Band on the field (left) and with the Los Angeles Band (right)

    So we sat in the bleachers at Kezar Stadium watching and listening to the San Francisco and Los Angeles gay bands play and saw the two conductors embrace to loud cheers in the middle of the field.

    * * *


    Tina Turner wow-ing the GGI Opening Ceremony crowd

    DOUG ORLOFF: In San Francisco, I stayed with friends of friends who graciously let me and my partner stay in their spare room. On a side note, that partner and I got together in 1979 in Kansas City and we are still together 43 years later. 

    When the Opening Ceremony was starting, we were outside the stadium just like the Olympics, and we marched in as a team under our city flags. We had no idea what to expect. It might just be our loved ones and friends inside the stadium. But as we cleared the tunnel, and walked onto the track, the roar was just crazy. There were thousands of people in the stands cheering us and celebrating like only LGBT+ people can. 

    I was walking by Bill Swann and Ron Kirkoff and I couldn’t speak. I was choked up and very emotional. Ron, of course, was cracking jokes and laughing. He had the whole team start waving to the crowd like we were royalty. The mantra was “Furs, pearls, tiaras” as we waved the stiff hand gesture Queen Elizabeth does.

    All hell broke loose when Tina Turner performed. That a big star would perform for a gay event was bananas. We danced, we sang, and when she did “Proud Mary,” she tore the place down!

    * * *


    Team Los Angeles entering the Gay Games I Opening Ceremony

    JEFF SHOTWELL: When we arrived in San Francisco, all the swimmers were assigned to different "hosts" who had opened their homes to house many of the gay athletes. I was paired with Bill Swann and our hosts were so welcoming. As a matter of fact, it seemed the entire city of San Francisco layed out the welcome mat for all of the athletes - we were cheered and applauded everywhere we went. It was an unbelievable experience.

    I have 2 very fond memories of the Opening Ceremony.  The first was walking into the stadium as the "Los Angeles Team" in our uniforms (t-shirts, I believe) and seeing the massive crowd and all of the people cheering! It was overwhelming and that feeling is seared into my memory. I felt to be a real part of the gay community that day.  The second memory was seeing Tina Turner perform on stage for all of us. Tina Turner! What a performance! The atmosphere in that stadium that day was electric. We all knew we were part of something big, but did we realize we were making HISTORY? I didn't, nor do I think many of my teammates thought we were - at the time. All I knew is I was having a blast with this great group of guys, in a fabulous city, doing something I really loved - swimming.

    * * *

      
    (L) Tina Turner wows the crowd at the GGI Opening Ceremony; (R) Team Minnesota at the GGI Opening Ceremony


    San Francisco Examiner coverage of Gay Games I. Jean-Nickolaus Tretter (left in glasses) and Team Minnesota teammate Morrie Spang (holding flag)

    JEAN-NICKOLAUS TRETTER: I remember Tina Turner. Of course, she had just left Ike Turner, and what I remember is the biggest ongoing discussion was whether she was a lesbian or not. Back in those days, you just didn’t do things like that, performing at a large, all-gay event. A lot of the lesbians took off their shirts. Team Minnesota had 87 participants for Gay Games I - the largest team from outside California.

    * * *


    Gene Dermody (center) with Team New York members at GGI Opening Ceremony

    GENE DERMODY: I wrote this letter (below) to my YMCA training partner soon after the Opening Ceremony, and it was later included in an LGBTQ+ Castro anthology. I was 34 years old, but it reads like I was 15 years old and I had just won my first tournament. This is how life-shattering this Gay Games experience was for me. I gave up my thirteen-year safe, tenured position teaching and coaching in northern New Jersey and moved to San Francisco within six months with no apartment and no job. The Gay Games had exposed the critical mass of the community that I had been desperately searching for in all the wrong places. It was also the best personal and professional decision I could have ever made:

    Saturday 28 August 1982 Gay Games Opening Ceremony Outside Kezar Stadium, San Francisco

    It is hard being so jaded to convey the absolute feeling of liberation and joy I felt that day at Kezar Stadium. I have never experienced that level of exhilaration since. As preparations were being made inside the stadium, some 1,300 athletes milled about outside for some three hours, in the typical cool fog of San Francisco. We could hear the wild cheering inside, but were not yet sure what they were excited about. Could it be us? Many “travel-challenged” like me, who thought California summer weather was hot and humid, arrived dressed only in shorts, t-shirts, and back-packs, not prepared for the overcast 60-degree chilly winds.

    But we didn’t notice our goose bumps. We were too busy checking out the other athletes. Where did they all come from? Like the kids we never allowed ourselves to be, we were soon making new friends, sizing up the caliber of competition, and networking with our alter egos.

    The buzz was incessant, but it was a markedly “different” banter for a Gay group: “Where did you Wrestle? Who was coaching at Bakersfield? What weight would Larry Blakeley compete at? How much weight did you cut? Would Title IX kill Princeton’s program? When are the weigh-ins?“..etc. It was as if -everyone- was finally speaking”‘my” language, and I had finally found “my” lost tribe!

    As we were ushered into the stadium by city for the “March of the Athletes,” I was handed one of the New York City flags to lead Team NY’s athletes. A warm sun suddenly exploded out from behind the clouds, as if on cue, to announce the entry of gods into Valhalla. I vividly remember Tina Turner singing on stage and crying profusely for no apparent reason. I felt as if I had finally come “Home” after a very long exile.

    * * *


    Mauro Bordovsky (L) with Shamey Cramer at the Gay Games IX send-off party in Los Angeles

    MAURO BORDOVSKY: Entering Kezar for the Gay Games I Opening Ceremony was amazing and emotional. Although I had competed extensively for my University in Brazil, the Gay Games and entering Kezar Stadium was the first time I felt like an Olympic athlete. The city of San Francisco was very welcoming. Many people on the streets, on public transportation, at events, at restaurants, etc. were curious about us athletes, the sport(s) in which we were participating, and how we were doing. Some restaurants even gave free food to gold medalists. I stayed with local hosts, which was a great way to make new friends and get to know a new city.

    * * *

    Read more about the Opening Ceremony in Post 32b

    * * *

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

  • 27 Aug 2022 11:03 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    1982 - Final Preparations - California, Here We Come!


    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 31 of 40 - 27 August: 1982 - Final Preparations - California, Here We Come!

    “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.

    * * *


    Coach Michael Roth at Gay Games I

    DR. MICHAEL ROTH: I finished my Master’s degree in 1964 and started medical school in 1966. In between that time, I became a high school substitute teacher and swim coach in the Detroit area, with my mentor being John Zwick. During that brief period, I actually coached a handful of All-American athletes.

    Richard Hunter was a patient of mine, and he and Ric Bohner asked me if I would be interested in coaching the swimmers they had recruited to participate in the first Gay Olympic Games later that summer. Besides getting the newfound team ready for competition, I also made a lifelong friend with Mike Wallace, another doctor on the team. And let me tell you, as an experienced coach, I worked them hard! But it paid off.

    * * *


    Volleyball action at Gay Games II in 1986. Photo: Ann Meredith

    JACK GONZALES: In order to prepare for the upcoming Gay Games, the majority of our Los Angeles team played (drilled) at the Hollywood YMCA with a volleyball club (Universal Volleyball Club). The majority of the club were straight with the exception of my team. Our sexual orientation was never brought up, but I suspect that the coach and other players ‘knew our story’. We had quite an exceptional group of individuals that made up the team. All had excellent skills which made for a very talented team.

    * * *


    The Gay Games I banner with "Olympic" covered over


    A rare unaltered Gay Games I poster


    Gay Games posters before and after removal of "Olympics"

    SARA WADDELL LEWINSTEIN: In the last month prior putting on the first Gay Olympic Games, this is what we were all doing: crossing out the word Olympic from EVERYTHING! Shirts, posters, medals, EVERYTHING! Tom was also securing advertising for our first program; he was everywhere. Speaking on radio programs, board meetings, and he took over last minute as the sports director, along with myself. We were both the International Sports Co-Directors, which happened in the last month. We were everywhere doing everything last minute, especially with trying to get as many entries as possible. Everything was last minute. Men and Women coming together for the first time in his/her story. The First Gay Bleep Games! What a sight for sore eyes, as we everyone started arriving.

    * * *


    Print ad for Gay Games I
     

         
    Charlie Carson and friends around San Francisco. Photos: Charlie Carson

    CHARLIE CARSON: Fly TWA to San Francisco. Things are fun right away. Athletes identify each other with big grins upon landing – I meet a group of Los Angeles swimmers and we share a van into the city. One, Frank Maciejewski, turns out to be the third housemate with me and Jeff at Dominic Galardi’s house, as many residents offer hosted housing. We head to Registration to pick up our participant packet and then the San Francisco State University pool to loosen up. Discover the sometimes-chilly S.F. August air. Dinner at the Norse Cove with Frank and Rafael Montijo (who would become one of International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics’ co-founders). Jeff and I go to L.A. swimmers’ team meeting at the Hilton – lively group, and there are so many they’ve divided into L.A., Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica to get around the “one swimmer per city” rule (ha!). Undercurrent on the street is about the USOC’s lawsuit a few weeks back that stopped the use of the word Olympic in between the two words Gay Games.

    * * *

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

  • 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.

    * * *


    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.

    * * *


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

    * * *

    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.

    * * *

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

  • 25 Aug 2022 09:30 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    1982: Building Momentum and the National Torch Relay


    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 29 of 40 - 25 August - 1982: Building Momentum and the National Torch Relay

    “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.

    * * *


    Richard Hunter (center) on the medals stand at Gay Games I

    SHAMEY CRAMER: I will always remember the first time I met Richard Hunter. But then, everyone remembers the first time they met Richard Hunter - he was just one of those guys. He, more than any other individual, was the nucleus that led to the founding of West Hollywood Aquatics, the first team within United States Masters Swimming whose mission focused on the inclusion of Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender athletes. But that was still a few months down the road.

    After meeting with US Olympian Susan McGrievy on June 1 1982 to formally create Team Los Angeles, I quickly organized those from the list who had contacted her or the San Francisco organizers. We called the first meeting of all athletes on Sunday, 13 June in the Poinsettia Park gymnasium, where a newly-formed men's basketball team was scrimmaging. The meeting started at 6pm, with swimmers, volleyball players, runners, wrestlers and others, all meeting for the first time. You could feel the electricity.


    Team LA at the Gay Games I Closing Ceremony led by Richard Hunter and Ric Bohner

    The meeting was barely underway when it came to a complete standstill: through the north doors came two bronzed, bare-chested Adonises in cutoffs and sandals. The one carrying a piece of corrugated cardboard had a personality the size of Texas, and this brilliant, mega-watt smile that just wouldn't quit. He was one of those people who just couldn't help himself from making an entrance - it was just part of what made Richard Hunter who he was. The sleepy-eyed beauty at his side was Ric Bohner, a swimmer-diver who would also become one of the original founders of WH2O.

    They had just returned from Venice Beach (the gay beach at that time) where they were recruiting new team-mates. Richard showed us the cardboard sign, which read something to the effect: “Los Angeles Swim Team forming for Gay Olympics in San Francisco - Swimmers Needed." As if either of them needed a reason to talk to men in speedos. But it worked. They actually recruited some of our best swimmers with that hand-made sign.

    My Team LA Co-chair Rand Wiseman-Curtright and I continued to work with Richard and Ric, and others who began creating the structure of the swim team. Two car washes were arranged in the parking lot of the Detour, a gay bar located at Sunset Junction in Silverlake. Thanks to Ron Kirkhoff, they became a car wash AND a bake sale. I arranged a third car wash for the swimmers in the Studio One parking lot in West Hollywood.

    Between the funds raised from these events, plus the $1,000 grant we secured from Christopher Street West Pride Committee, we were able to cover the cost of registrations, uniforms and equipment for nearly all of our 147 athletes.

    * * *


    Jean-Nickolaus Tretter in 1983

    JEAN-NICKOLAUS TRETTER: When we contacted San Francisco Arts & Athletics about having the torch relay come through Minneapolis-St Paul, they said no; there was no way to get it from Cleveland to San Francisco because there was no one willing to organize a run through the central United States. Since we really wanted to be part of the torch relay, and were already promoting the Gay Games, Team Minnesota volunteered to take up organizing the relay through the entire central part of the United States. But there’s a little problem there. The Great Plains states are very flat and very long, and to have enough runners to cover that entire distance would be extraordinarily difficult. The gentleman running the torch relay out of San Francisco told us “just get the torch to Denver. We don’t care how you do it, but we can take it from there.” So we made a few changes.


    One of the things the torch relay had to do was make money for the Gay Games, so the various torchbearers had to get financial pledges for every mile they carried it. We had enough people to run it from Cleveland through Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but then there was central and southern Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas - the whole thing going to Denver. What we came up with is that people didn’t have to run those distances, they could either ride on a bike, or if we absolutely needed to, people could drive those distances in a car. Then, for the driving segments, we allowed people to pledge as low as a penny a mile. It ended up working out quite well. We did a big send-off from the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, and the people in Lincoln Nebraska and Wichita Kansas got their communities together and threw big welcoming parties.


    We weren’t sure about having people running or being alone on a bicycle on some of those prairie roads. We were concerned about having openly gay people running through those areas, where people tend to be a little more conservative and unwelcoming, so we followed them all the way in a van to make sure they were safe. When we got to Denver, we heaved a great sigh of relief, then turned right around and went back to St. Paul.


    The torch arriving in San Francisco for Gay Games I

    And the torch got to San Francisco just fine.

    The 1982 National Torch Relay schedule included the following cities:

    • June 13 - Stonewall Inn, New York City
    • June 24 - Piedmont Ohio
    • June 26 - Columbus Gay Pride Parade
    • June 27 - Columbus
    • June 28 - Findlay
    • June 29 - Toledo
    • June 30 - Angola IN
    • Jul 1 - South Bend IN
    • Jul 2 - 5 - Chicago, IL
    • July 6 - Milwaukee, WI
    • July 7 - Madison
    • July 8 - Madison
    • July 9 - Sparta
    • July 10 - Eau Claire
    • July 11-15 Minneapolis/St Paul, MN
    • July16 - Albert Lea, MN
    • July 17 - Des Moines IA
    • July 18 - Omaha, NE
    • July 19 - 20 - Lincoln
    • July 21 - Fairmont NE
    • July 22 - Minden, NE
    • July 23/24 - McCook, NE
    • July 25 - Imperial
    • July 26 - Sterling, CO
    • July 27 - Ft. Collins, CO
    • July 28 Boulder, CO
    • July 29/30 - Denver, CO
    • July 31 - Empire, CO
    • Aug 1 - Kremmling, CO
    • Aug 2 - Hayden, CO
    • Aug 3 - Elk Springs, CO

    * * *

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

  • 24 Aug 2022 10:46 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Post Scripts


    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 28 of 40 - 24 August - Post Scripts

    “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.

    * * *


    Kate Rowe (right) at Gay Games VIII in Cologne, 2010

    KATE ROWE: The world has changed in the last 40 years. LGBTQ+ sport has changed. There are far more opportunities for LGBTQ+ sport and culture. My belief is that Tom Waddell’s vision and model was the way forward. But now in 2022, we need to change the model to fit the new world.

    We still don't have enough young people, people with disabilities or other diverse constituencies. We have not made progress on equal participation of women, yet in mainstream sport, great inroads are being made. We can learn from them all.

    I have been a passionate believer in Tom Waddell’s vision and played my part. It is up to us all and the board now and in the future, to rise to the challenge of change.

    * * *


    Rob Smitherman at Gay Games 9, Cleveland+ Akron, 2014

    ROB SMITHERMAN: The Federation of Gay Games, which began as San Francisco Arts & Athletics, has been an amazing institution for the past 40 years, keeping alive the Gay Games vision first begun in 1982. The board, the Assembly, and the many volunteers for the FGG have worked to make each Gay Games better, and they provided the structure for success.

    A group that deserves much of the credit for each Gay Games is the host city working group that actually produces the Games. Each city organization must develop, manage, and create the event from scratch, using the guidelines set out by the FGG. Every Gay Games has produced an amazing event, with over 30 sports, several cultural events, an opening and closing ceremony, and often a festival village. These successes have been due to the host city leadership, volunteers, and staff devoting their lives to the Gay Games in their city.

    I have attended every Gay Games since Amsterdam in 1998. I was fortunate to be part of the staff at the Chicago Gay Games, working as a sports manager. I then worked for the host teams in Cologne in 2010 and Cleveland/Akron in 2014. I also have been a member of the Steering Committee, a working group that has several representatives from the FGG and the host city. This has allowed me to be in awe of the host city volunteers and staff, those that make the Gay Games actually work.

    Each host city organizing committee is a bit different. The group could consist of almost all volunteers with a few paid staff and consultants, or it could have a larger paid staff overseen by a volunteer board. Whatever the form the host is made up of people who are passionate about the Gay Games and the LGBTQ+ community. These people give up part of their lives for many years to make the Gay Games successful in their cities.

    Since I was not part of the host city organizing committees before Chicago I cannot recognize individuals of those teams specifically. However, those organizers created an incredible event for each Gay Games, and then “passed the torch” to the next one. Each host city was able to build on the success of the previous one, and each learned from their challenges and difficulties.

    Many people deserve praise, but from an operations and production standpoint, one person who deserves special recognition is Stuart Borrie of the Sydney Gay Games. Stuart created a report that is the most comprehensive and clear explanation of how to organize a Gay Games. We are still using it 20 years later. He is a major reason that the host cities after Sydney were able to create a successful event.

    Gay Games VII: Chicago 2006 was organized by a dedicated team of volunteers, including the co-chairs Suzie Arnold and Sam Coady, and vice-chairs Tracy Baim and Kevin Boyer. They led a volunteer team that consisted of many in the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago. They also hired a great staff that produced each aspect of the Gay Games.

    Gay Games VIII: Cologne 2010 was the dream of the LGBTQ+ Sports Club in Cologne, SC Janus. Annette Wachter and Michael Lohaus were the co-chairs, with Armin Lohrmann as the executive director, and they provided such great leadership. They led a team of volunteers, most of whom were part of SC Janus. Imagine having over 10,000 people for a week-long event that was produced almost exclusively by volunteers. Their success was a result of the passion and love that they had for Cologne and for the LGBTQ+ community.

    Gay Games 9: Cleveland+Akron 2014 was a special and unique Gay Games, hosted by two small cities, both with a small LGBTQ+ sports community. The eventual group that organized the Gay Games was a volunteer board headed by Steve Sokany and Hollie Ksiezyk. The board relied on a staff to organize and produce the events, headed by Executive Director Tom Nobbe, as well as Marketing Director Ann Gynn and Development Director Mary Zaller. The board, staff, and volunteers produced a successful Gay Games in so many ways, including making a positive impact in the local communities, and creating a small budget surplus that eventually was able to donate to local LGBTQ+ causes.

    Gay Games 10: Paris 2018 was led by Manuel Picaud, as well as Co-President Pascale Reinteau, who developed an outstanding team that produced yet another successful Gay Games. The French LGBTQ+ sports club FGSL contributed to producing many the sports events. Emy Ritt, prior FGG Co-President, was a great asset in the ultimate realization of the most recent Gay Games. These leaders and countless volunteers produced an amazing event in an amazing city.

    We now have three host cities for future Gay Games. Hong Kong, led by Lisa Lam and Alan Lang, have developed a dedicated group of volunteers to manage and produce the Hong Kong version of Gay Games 11. Guadalajara Gay Games 11 is quickly bringing together the city, volunteers and staff to host a successful event. Valencia is just getting started with its plans to produce Gay Games 12. 

    We also need to acknowledge the cities that bid to host the Gay Games but were not chosen as host. Each of those cities have had volunteers who dedicated several years of developing and presenting bids for the Gay Games. I have had the honor of meeting, working with, and sharing the disappointments of many of the great representatives from the bid teams of these cities. These wonderful volunteers deserve our respect and thanks.

    Being part of the host city team has been a life-changing experience. The drive, determination, and passion of each host city organization has created the Gay Games that we know today. I wish I could name all of the people who have made a difference for each host city, but the list would be too long. Please join me in honoring them by remembering their dedication and commitment to making each Gay Games a success.

    * * *


    Joanie Evans announcing the new host for Gay Games XII in 2026

    JOANIE EVANS: I have now been to 7 out of 10 Gay Games held so far. Over the past 20+ yrs, my involvement with the FGG has been varied: I’ve been an Observer, Vice President of Diversity, member of various committees, and was even part of the London 2018 Gay Games Bid Team and for the past 8 years as Co-President.

    * * *


    Doug Litwin (right) at Gay Games IV, NYC 1994

    DOUG LITWIN: My Gay Games story has continued through Amsterdam, Sydney, Chicago, Cologne, Cleveland + Akron, and Paris and it’s not stopping any time soon. Happy Fortieth Anniversary, Gay Games!

    * * *


    Emy Ritt at FGG annual meeting in Cape Town South Arica 2008

    EMY RITT: Since 1982, Gay Games Hosts and the FGG have been consistently analyzing the lessons learned in order to form a more perfect Gay Games and to reach a Personal Best with each new edition. We thank all Host Organizations and FGG volunteers for their enthusiasm, dedication, and personal sacrifice for the Gay Games.

    Being a part of the Gay Games has been a life-changing experience and an immense privilege. Giving back to the Gay Games, even if just a little, has been a ‘raison d’être’ for over twenty years, an amazing adventure, and the greatest gift of all. Now, with gratitude, the baton has been passed to the next generations. Thank you. Merci.

    * * *

      
    (L) Jessica with her father Tom Waddell, Gay Games II, 1986
    (R) Jessica at Opening Ceremony Gay Games VII, 2006 (photo : Beckermedia)

    JESSICA WADDELL-LEWINSTEIN: Over the last 40 years, I have grown up with the Games while watching the Games grow alongside me. The Games is an intrinsic part of my being, and I owe a lot to it. My life, my career, my extended family. It has shown me the benefits of celebrating our differences, and bonding through our similarities. To value diversity, and the ability to show each other respect. The importance of standing together in solidarity and standing up for equality. Values that I can only hope to instill in my own two children now.

    * * *


    Shamey Cramer with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin

    SHAMEY CRAMER: When one donates time to a non-profit, most of that work is done selflessly, anonymously and without reward. I will always want to be best remembered as the founder of Team Los Angeles, and one of the few that actually worked with Tom Waddell to create an international governing body during the first four years of operations.

    I am also proud of the work I did with Rand Wiseman-Curtright and Phil Manciero to establish the Los Angeles Festival Games between Gay Games I and II, which led to a very cohesive queer sports network in Los Angeles. To this day, we still have one of the most successful queer sports communities - as competitors as well as producing sports tournaments and festivals.

    Although I spent an additional four years founding and overseeing two Los Angeles Gay Games bid finalists, it is the writing and event producing I did during my six years on the FGG Board that made the greatest impact. That, and mentoring the new generation of LGBTQ+ sports administrators around the world.

    * * *


    Derek Liecty celebrating his 90th birthday, July 2022

    DEREK LIECTY: I was asked to be a founding member of The Federation of Gay Games in 1989 and served for thirteen consecutive years as Director.  My main focus with The Federation was to do outreach outside the United States bringing the message of the Games of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best to as many countries as possible with encouragement to attend the Games.

    For forty years The Gay Games has carried on the legacy of Tom Waddell and I am so privileged to have been a part of this world changing event.

    * * *


    Kurt Dahl with Joanie Evans speaking at Gay Games 9 Opening Ceremony

    KURT DAHL: Being part of the Gay Games movement has forever changed my life. I never expected to be a Co-President of an organization like the FGG. I also never expected to meet so many amazing people over the past 20 years. I still remember going around with David Kopay in Cologne handing out medals, and meeting people like the US Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy (now Governor of New Jersey), Matthew Mitcham, Cyndi Lauper, Ben Cohen, Esera Tuaolo, among others.

    Again, thanks Gay Games, for changing my life.

    * * *


    Jeffry Pike at Gay Games II, San Francisco 1986

    JEFFRY PIKE: My connection to Roy Coe stays vibrantly alive through the Roy M. Coe Scholarship Fund. For me, one of the truly rewarding aspects of meeting and knowing the recipients of the Coe Scholarship Fund is to see how their stories are changed after they attend the Gay Games. Be it providing new leadership in their communities or being more assured with who they are on this planet, they each now have a greater “a sense of pride.”

    * * *

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

  • 23 Aug 2022 23:51 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Visions for the Future & Gay Games XII: Valencia 2026


    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 27 of 40 - 23 August - Visions for the Future & Gay Games XII: Valencia 2026

    “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.

    * * *

    KATE ROWE: The world has changed in the last 40 years. LGBTQ+ spirt has changed. There are far more opportunities for LGBTQ+ spirt and culture. My belief is that Tom Waddell’s vision and model was the way forward. But now in 2022, we need to change the model to fit the new world.

    We still don't have enough young people, people with disabilities or other diverse constituencies. We have not made progress on equal participation of women, yet in mainstream sport, great inroads are being made. We can learn from them all.

    I have been a passionate believer in Tom Waddell’s vision and played my part. It is up to us all and the board now and in the future, to rise to the challenge of change.

    * * *

    IVAN YAP: Since Hong Kong won the bid in 2017 to host Gay Games 11, it has lifted up the dynamic in Asia. FGG Asian membership has grown from one member organization to seven. The Straits Games has also transformed from a social sporting event group into an internationally legalised organisation when it has jointly formed and registered with the Taiwanese government together with two other organisations from Taiwan and Japan.

    This regional organisation is now carrying the name Asia Pride Games Alliance with the headquarter residing in Taipei, Taiwan. The first Asia Pride Games was also held in Taipei with fullest support from the Taiwanese government. The 2nd edition of the Games is going to be carried out in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2023.

    * * *

    EMY RITT: Over time, the current FGG Site Selection process, led by David Killian, has matured into a more formal and serious business negotiation. Are there still potential issues and pitfalls to avoid? Of course, but the Site Selection process has been improved as the FGG organization has matured, and the last 2+ years of COVID and other challenges have been a reminder that there will always be unexpected issues requiring creativity and flexibility in order to continue the Gay Games legacy.

    * * *

    SHIV PAUL: In my capacity during my time on the FGG Board as Vice President of External Relations, I endeavoured to be the voice of FGG in the external world, protecting the brand and using it to shine a light on the LGBTQ+ communities’ struggles and its successes. When I am asked why it is necessary to have a Gay Games, I always reply that the fact it is still here 40 years later, in part, answers this question. The Games has always fought to enable participation, inclusion, and (the delivery of your) personal best in sport and culture, and also in life. My dream for the future of the Games is for it to be a truly visible, prominent, and loud representative voice for the LGBTQ+ communities at the most important tables in the world. The most important fight of all is for everyone to feel embraced by the loving arms of inclusion and belonging whenever and wherever they choose to present their true selves. But for as long as there are spaces and moments where those are lacking, the arms of the Games will always be there.

    * * *

    TONY SMITH: Another element of the future continues to be the very essence and importance of the Gay Games and its mission. With the world experiencing more and more tolerance and equality, the future of the Gay Games was questioned many times. The Gay Games mission is to promote equality through sport and culture, and this will continue until the entire world experiences true equality. This equality includes the evolution from the history of focusing on Lesbians and Gays to our bisexual, trans and queer members of our family. The 2026 bids for Guadalajara, Munich, and Valencia reflected today’s world in these regards and their commitment to address these newer challenges for our LGBTQ+ community. The bids from these cities also emphasized further evolution of sports to include modern events such as Quidditch from Harry Potter and E-sports.

    While the visibility and equality of the LGBTQ+ community continues to grow, we also continue to have setbacks. It is paramount for the future of the Federation of Gay Games to have the pulse of the entire world and continue working to promote equality through sports and culture for unforeseeable years in the future.

    * * *

    LAURA MOORE: I have, in the past, thought that the Gay Games might become obsolete. I imagined a time when LGBTQ+ people would be integrated into all areas of society. Working on the Gay Games Scholarship Committee, I realize how incredibly privileged most Gay Games participants are. The Gay Games remain a necessary and life affirming resource. Today, living in a country that is sliding swiftly backwards, I realize that I will continue to fight the same battles I have been fighting for the rest of my life.

    I hope the Gay Games survive. It is increasingly difficult for hosts to be able to accommodate an ever-increasing list of events. As equitable as we want to be, we lack the volunteer power necessary to include winter sports that need to be outdoors. For many years, the volunteer FGG Board of Directors and sports and culture leaders were getting older. Today we have a wonderful team of younger dedicated volunteers bringing their views and experiences to the FGG and Gay Games.

    One of the most challenging issues for us is the name “Gay Games.” I agree with the traditionalists among us that we should honor Tom Waddell and his vision. On the other hand, I recognize that there are now many queer people who don’t see the word “Gay” as applying to them. I am proud to serve on the FGG Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee where I have had the opportunity to have my own biases and assumptions challenged. I believe that we need to be relevant in ways that will grab the attention of the younger people who are the future of our movement.

    * * *

    MARK BROWN: Other than having the Gay Games come back home to San Francisco, I would love to see them take place in Las Vegas. There’s already an annual gay sports festival with thousands of athletes, so they have plenty of experience running things, including many of the Gay Games events. And they’re used to hosting big events there, so the travel costs for attendees would be reasonable.

    * * *

    JEAN-NICKOLAUS TRETTER: We need to have something like the Gay Games and other similar institutions. That is so future generations can learn that they are not just a sexual anomaly; they are a very important people with a history, with a culture, and with outstanding abilities. No matter how good you are, or not, by participating in the Gay Games you become someone and have an identity about yourself and others around you. It builds self-confidence and self-worth within ourselves and our communities. Besides, those Gay Games medals hanging on your walls look pretty impressive when people come over.

    * * *

      

    GAY GAMES XII: VALENCIA 2026

    The Gay Games will be coming to Valencia Spain in 2026! They were chosen at the 2021 Annual General Assembly in Brighton UK.

    To read the press release about this news HERE.

      

    To see a video of the final phase of the multi-year Site Selection process at which Valencia was announced as the host for Gay Games XII in 2026, click HERE.

    The FGG wants to thank the bidding teams from Guadalajara and Munich, who were both finalists for Gay Games XII.

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

  • 22 Aug 2022 23:20 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    A Tribute to Rick Peterson


    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 26 of 40 - 22 August - A Tribute to Rick Peterson

    “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.

    * * *


    Rick Peterson Open-Water Swimming, 2022

    During the course of producing this series, the FGG was saddened to hear of the untimely passing of Rick Peterson. Rick was a driving force behind the creation of Team Seattle for Gay Games II, the Seattle Orcas swim and water polo teams, and served as the first Male Co-President of the FGG.

    Fortunately, Rick provided content for this series prior to his passing. His essay can be located HERE

    Following are memories from those who knew and worked with Rick during the formative years of the FGG.

    * * *

    Rick Peterson making his Branding presentation at 2019 Annual Meeting in Guadalajara

    SEAN FITZGERALD: Rick Peterson was the first Federation of Gay Games Male Co-President, the position I hold today. I had the honor to introduce Rick to the Gay Games membership at the 2019 Annual General Assembly in Guadalajara. He made a presentation on how the Gay Games can increase their Brand visibility. Rick remained active in the FGG after serving as Co-President. He recently participated in our "Passing the Torch" series to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Gay Games. Read Rick's words HERE 

    Unfortunately Rick passed away while swimming in Lake Washington early this week. The news has shocked and saddened the entire Gay Games family. His commitment and leadership will be sorely missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

    * * *


    Rick Peterson (far right) with Susan Kennedy (to his right) at Gay Games IV NYC 1994

    SUSAN KENNEDY: When I think of Rick Peterson, many adjectives come to mind. He was bright, talented, endlessly optimistic and above all, kind. Rick served as the first male Co-President of the Federation of Gay Games and I had the privilege to serve with him from 1991 through 1994.

    In the early days of the Federation, there was much work to be done simply putting the building blocks of the organization in place. Committees, committee chairs, fundraising, raising the profile of the Federation, dealing with trademark issues and looking ahead long-term at the health and well-being of the organization and the event itself.

    Rick was always in the middle of these discussions, his creative mind seeing things the others may have missed and taking the time and making the effort to systematically and patiently make his case. For example, Rick was the driving force behind the creation of The Federation Endowment Fund. He was also a lead player in the creating the Business Plan Development Committee so the Federation could begin discussions on creating a business plan.

    In early 1993, the Executive Committee traveled to Colorado Springs to meet with representatives of the USOC to discuss trademarking issues, but also to discuss ways that our organizations could work together. During our visit, Rick’s “ad man” side was in heaven since one portion of our visit involved discussions about sponsorships and merchandise.

    Rick and I also worked together on obtaining the 10-day blanket waiver for Gay Games IV. This waiver, allowed athletes who were HIV positive to enter the country without declaring their HIV status. Together we worked with staff in the State Department, Health and Human Services and Immigration and Naturalization Services. Phone calls, faxes and face to face meetings in the fall of 1993 ultimately proved to be successful and in March of 1994, then Attorney General Janet Reno granted the waiver.

    I will always remember standing with him on stage in New York at Wein Stadium during Opening Ceremonies and again at Yankee Stadium for Closing Ceremonies when we announced that the Gay Games would be going off the North American continent for the first time and would be in Amsterdam in 1998.

    Rick and I shared many, special Gay Games moments together beyond the ones mentioned here. During our time serving together, we experienced great joy and great sadness. I always knew as did he, that if one of us needed to talk, we were there for each other. We trusted each other implicitly and while we didn’t always see eye to eye, we both loved the Federation and the Games. Whether you knew Rick or knew of him, rest assured that this organization and this event are better for him being involved and if you want to honor him, the next time you find yourself in a heated passionate discussion, stop and remember that if Rick was standing there, he would be kind.

    * * *

      
    Rick Peterson, varsity swimmer at Washington State University, 1971. Rick swimming at Gay Games II, 1986

    KATHLEEN WEBSTER: When I think of Rick, I think of his eyes, his warm smile and his genuine presence. Most times, Rick had a sense of calm about him. He often was able to bring together disparate people with conflicting agendas and find a middle ground. Rick had his own strong opinions but he was open to change – and he succeeded in bringing others together because he listened with respect and attention.

    We first met when I became involved as a FGG volunteer in 1994. Rick was co-president at that time, serving with Susan Kennedy and I watched and learned as they partnered to lead the FGG forward through the rapid growth and changes of those times. Even when Rick stepped down as co-president, he continued his commitment to the FGG and Gay Games and supported and mentored those of us new to the organization. Rick and I worked together on a few projects over our respective tenures on the FGG board of directors. I remember once he took me aside to discuss language in a license agreement the FGG legal team was drafting with the current host organization. Rick felt that some of the language was too strong and asked if we could reword it to sound “nicer.” The lawyer in me tried to explain that the language was “boiler plate” legalese, included in all similar contracts and to rewrite it could open the door to all sorts of unforeseen problems of interpretation. But the friend in me just had to smile because this was so Rick – he was professional, dedicated and he still wanted everyone to feel good.

    In 2016, I was asked to serve as a consultant to the FGG Working Group as the FGG board of directors was preparing to end further negotiations with the organization responsible for the OutGames. I had been happily retired from the FGG since 2007 and my first response was a decisive, or so I thought, no. But then I talked to Charlie Carson who told me that Rick also had been asked to serve. So I reached out to Rick and we talked. I knew from all our years of service together that I not only could work with Rick, I could trust him – his honesty and integrity. As we say in the martial arts, I knew that Rick would have my back and I would have his. I am grateful I had that last opportunity to work with him for a cause near and dear to us both.

    Rick was a strong and tireless advocate for swimming, for the Gay Games. He also freely volunteered his advertising and promotional expertise to further those missions.  And Rick was a genuine friend. I will miss those eyes and his smile, but he will live on long in the memories of the many lives he touched.


    Rick Peterson with Life Partner Thomas DeVera, at Gay Games X Paris 2018

    To Thomas, Rick’s life partner of so many years – we send you our love and our prayers. Rick’s Gay Games friends are always here for you.

    * * *


    Rick Peterson at Gay Games II Closing Ceremony, 1986

    GENE DERMODY: I had heard of Rick for years while working closely with Susan Kennedy on newly created Team San Francisco (1987) as a response to the upcoming Gay Games III: Vancouver 1990.

    The proximity of Seattle to Vancouver and San Francisco with the very powerful Team Seattle & IGLA, both Rick’s forté, made them a natural alliance before they were even made an FGG team because Vancouver’s inner sports structure was so weak.  

    Susan was top notch Basketball, Rick a top notch Swimmer, and I was just a Wrestling volunteer holding Team San Francisco together. Susan was obsessed with the USOC negotiations because we all needed peaceful, constructive closure prior to Vancouver in order to solicit sponsors.

    Susan was very professional, very practical, and open to some discussion. Rick’s professional corporate expertise was a godsend for Susan. In many ways, he was probably the silent power-partner, packaging the language and strategy, but Susan was the Boss.

    San Francisco Arts & Athletics, the original 501c3 (non-profit) organization that put on Gay Games I and II, transformed itself in th Federation of Gay Games. That FGG selected Peg Grey of Chicago, and Rick Peterson of Seattle as their first Co-Presidents.

    I knew Rick was closely associated with IGLA, the premier LGBTIQ+ Aquatics governing body, and was eager to see their 501c3 incorporation documents (as well as Team SF’s, Team Seattle’s, the FGG’s, and Beat The Street’s) as I prepared to take Wrestling down the same path toward legitimacy in joining the FGG family. Rick helped me get draft docs to get me started.  

    The Team Seattle & IGLA language and design were more of an education than anything else. I attended the FGG’s Annual Meeting in New York City, and then again in San Francisco the following year. I was told that until Wresting could show a 501c3 document (like an IGLA), the FGG was uninterested.

    At the Vancouver Gay Games in 1990, my connections with NY’s Tom Cracovia began our quest to get Red Books in to the Host Contracts, as we observed the operational sports problems of Vancouver.


    Rick Peterson as FGG Male Co-President

    I also finally met Rick Peterson while running my wrestlers through the big Vancouver park. We hit it off, and laughed at my ‘Village Voice’ critique that forced Vancouver to pay better attention to the sports, once FGG’s Sean Kelley was sent up there to oversee things.

    Rick understood the hurdles smaller new sports would face joining the FGG: having a very unfriendly FGG membership policy locked into 501c3 documents was too great an obstacle!

    He impressed me with his very laid back professional style, and he promised to help me at the next FGG Annual Meeting to get my agenda items started.

    I knew I did not have the time before the meeting to create the international 501c3 organization the FGG wanted (this organization would eventually become Wrestlers WithOut Borders/WWB), but I did already have the local Golden Gate Wrestling Club (GGWC) 501c3 docs in effect as of 1987 in order to obtain SF City Rec Center rates favor.

    I had already gotten the signatures of sign off from the 14 other wrestling clubs (AU, EU, US) while in Vancouver at a meeting we held at a big party, but we needed to formalize it.  

    Rick advised me to apply to the FGG as temporary Wrestling Rep, using GGWC as a stand in until WWB was up to legal snuff.

    At the FGG Annual Meeting, the resistance to Wrestling, me, and GGWC was surprising & illogical to me. I can only think that the new FGG wanted to show legitimacy, by being as restrictive and controlling as the old IOC!

    When it came to vote on the GGWC offer, Tom Cracovia passionately spoke up for me, highlighting the much needed Red Book work we had already started.

    Rick did not publicly speak up for me, but offered much private verbal encouragement, and made a point of often being seen with me conversing… a political coup.

    It was Rick’s idea to respect & use the FGG rules, be a Sport Rep (not an Individual Rep), stress past proven service, stress the already started wrestling organizational sign-offs, and not give up should it fail.

    Rick and Susan Kennedy were concerned that another San Franciscan on the new FGG Board was not a good political idea, but they couched their neutrality statements with praise for GGWC’s accomplishments for Gay Games I and II. GGWC was accepted by 2 votes, even while Rick & Susan abstained.

    In the subsequent years, I became a fan of Rick’s quiet unobtrusive style, he knew when and how to quiet me down. I specifically remember an AGA where Rick’s partner at the time, Mitch, and I got into a big debate about the need for ‘Sensitivity Training’ for the FGG reps.

    Mitch and I were both very combative, and we need to go to our corners.  Someone actually brought out boxing gloves!  Rick was especially effective at understanding and addressing the real differences in our different perceptions of ‘Sensitivity Training’, and it was quietly resolved because of the respect we all had for Rick as a leader.

    * * *


    Kimberly Hadley (left), Linda Wedewer, Rick Peterson

    KIMBERLY HADLEY: I didn't have the opportunity to "work" directly with Rick but Linda Wedewer and I spent an absolutely wonderful day with Rick when we were visiting Seattle a couple of years back.  Rick spoke so fondly about his swimming, especially in Lake Washington near the Montlake Cut where the historic ASUW Shell House was located.  This is where the infamous team of 9 young University of Washington rowers known as the "Boys in the Boat", representing the US Olympic Rowing Team, trained for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and who took the Gold Medal in front of Adolf Hitler's eyes.  He just gleamed at this story, one neither of us had ever heard of before. "Marsh Island" was also nearby and we had a wonderful stroll along the Arboretum Trail there.

    When I think about Rick, he will always have that same smile on his face and have a kind word to be said.  Rick’s heart exuded love for those who came from all walks of life and especially for those who were part of the LGBTQ+ community. His longtime passion for the Gay Games (for whom he was the Federation’s first Male Co-President) continued long after he left the board and went on to become an Honorary Life Member.

    More recently, he returned to help lead the Federation with its rebranding efforts, working tirelessly with the Federation's Development Committee & GGHK2023 (the Hong Kong Host) with its sponsorship opportunities.  Rest in peace, my friend. You will be greatly missed by so many of us and your longtime contributions will never be forgotten.

    * * *


    EDITOR'S NOTE: To read an excellent 29 August tribute article about Rick Peterson in the Bay Area Reporter newspaper (San Francisco), authored by News Editor Cynthia Laird), please click HERE.

    * * *

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

  • 21 Aug 2022 11:36 | 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 25 of 40 - 21 August - Gay Games 11: Co-Hosts

    “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.

    * * * 


    HONG KONG 2023

    The world was a very different place when Hong Kong first won the bid to host Gay Games 11 in 2017. In 2019, there was social unrest in Hong Kong. Just as the situation began to ease, the world was hit with COVID in early 2020. It has now been 2.5 years.

    Due to the unpredictable progression of COVID variants and ongoing corresponding travel restrictions in Hong Kong, there are continuing challenges for participants from around the world to travel to here. Yet, as the organisers of Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong, we remain steadfast and committed to our original vision of organising the most inclusive and diverse Games celebrating its 40 years history, and the first time in Asia.

    So, where does that leave us, the organisers of Gay Games 11?

    We were put to our first test in the summer of 2021 as we were gearing up to prepare for registration opening: should we devote the limited resources of GGHK, a fully volunteer-run, non-profit charitable organisation, to work on registration opening by November 2021 (i.e. one year out of the original scheduled date), OR should we postpone the event for a year so to enable FGG member organizations to develop an appropriate training schedule for Gay Games 11 in 2023, and make alternate arrangements for their own 2022 tournaments?

    In the end, we decided to delay the Games until 3 – 11 November 2023 as it will enhance the likelihood of delivering on our promise to have the Games in HK serve as a beacon of hope for the wider community across the region. The postponement announcement was made on September 15, 2021, with the support of the FGG.

    Following the postponement announcement, the organizing team was busy reviewing our plans. Little did we know that just as we were getting ready to re-start Gay Games 11 after the New Year holidays, Hong Kong was hit with the fifth wave of COVID in January/February 2022, and we were put to our second test.


    Current flyer for Gay Games Hong Kong

    To visit the GGHK website, click HERE
    To see the Brandon Li short film about life in Hong Kong, click HERE
    To see the latest "Come Out For The Games" video, click HERE

    At that time, many countries/regions around the world had already adopted the “living with COVID” approach, and international travel was beginning to resume. However, that was not the case in Hong Kong, and the city was (and has been) maintaining one of the strictest quarantine requirements in its efforts to contain the spread of COVID.

    Faced with continued challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic, with the desire to ensure more participants can join the Games, regardless of their location, the Hong Kong Games organizing committee proposed the concept of a co-hosted event to the FGG in February 2022.


    By having Gay Games 11 accessible to participants across two locations we can ensure we meet our aim of being as inclusive as possible while international travel continues to recover. We will still be holding the first Gay Games in Asia, but potentially for the first time in Latin America as well, welcoming the widest possible audience to both cities.

    If anything, COVID taught us to be agile and adaptable to a constantly changing environment. We now have over 200+ passionate volunteers working on the common goal of bringing the most inclusive Gay Games to Hong Kong. The uncertainties brought on by COVID are an opportunity for us to show the rest of the world the resilience and commitment of the team in HK to organise the most inclusive Games in its 40-year history: and the first time in Asia and in Central/Latin America!

    * * *


    GUADALAJARA 2023

    MONICA SANCHEZ: La primera vez que supe de Gay Games fue cuando los miembros de FGG visitaron Gudalajara para conocer nuestra ciudad como parte del proceso de nuestra primera postulación en el 2017. A partir de ese momento, el alcalde de Guadalajara me nombraría como la representante del gobierno para la postulación de los juegos. Los Gay Games eran un enigma para mí, aún cuando había sido parte del comité de los juegos panamericanos, ex voleibolista profesional de playa y a mi pesar una atleta frustrada, no sabía de la existencia de dicho evento. Unos meses más tarde me vería en un avión con un grupo de personas desconocidas que nos dirigíamos a Paris para presentar nuestra postulación. Aunque no fue fácil, porque la mayoría nos sentíamos incómodos en un ambiente desconocido, presentamos nuestra propuesta lo mejor que pudimos logrando un triste segundo lugar. Sin embargo, algo había cambiado dentro de nosotros.

    Cuando regresamos de Paris Juan Carlos Razo nos invitó a ser miembros de la primera Federación Mexicana Deportiva de la Diversidad. Ese logro y las ganas de conseguir los juegos en el futuro nos impulsarían a participar en Paris 2018.

    Mis primeros Gay Games en Paris me brindaron la oportunidad de conocer el corazón de los juegos. Me abrí a nuevas experiencias, como asistir a la competencia de baile, entre otras competencias que fui a observar. Para una latina, que siempre le ha encantado bailar, era difícil imaginarse a dos personas del mismo sexo bailando salsa, tango, danzón. Y Que creen? Fue lo mejor de París, lo que más me impacto emocionalmente, las parejas que bailaban con una pasión, elegancia y profesionalismo me hicieron flexionar y querer que mi gente experimentará el mismo sentimiento. Fue una de las muchas razones por las que quería ser parte del equipo que lograra traer los Gay Games por primera vez a México y a Latinoamérica. La magia del legado de los Gay Games ya me había alcanzado.

    Después de tiempos tan difíciles que vivimos como humanidad y de la muerte de mi padre por covid; el gobernador del estado de Jalisco me designaría otra vez como representante del gobierno para nuestra segunda postulación en Brighton, Reino Unido. A pesar de tener que hacer cuarentena, Juan Carlos, Alex, Andrés, Roció y yo decidimos vivir “el big brother londinense”. Ya que queríamos estar en “igualdad de condiciones” que Munich y Valencia, porque las videoconferencias jamás sustituirán la presencia humana. Fue una de las mejores experiencias de mi vida, descubrí grandes amigos, que a través de vivir 15 días bajo el mismo techo, nos haría unirnos lograr hacer una gran presentación. Sí, una gran presentación para mí, porque finalmente enfrente de los miembros de FGG (y la primera vez públicamente) salí del clóset contando mi historia personal.

    Nací con todas las habilidades para ser una atleta de alto rendimiento, pero mi familia y una sociedad católica y extremadamente machista no estaba preparada para una mujer libre de estigmas. Comencé en el equipo escolar de basquetbol a los 8 años, a los 11 ya era seleccionada de Jalisco y a los 12 me invitaron al equipo nacional. Y ahí empezó mi frustración, mi entrenadora era “muy masculina”, “ una marimacha” para mi familia y no permitirían que su hija fuera así. Por eso estuve en todos los deportes posibles hasta que muy tarde en mi vida me volví voleibolista de playa profesional. Después mi padre se disculparía por no haberme entendido, por no haber tenido la capacidad de cambiar su manera de pensar y haberme dejado lograr mi sueño. Ahora entiendo que mi destino era, a través de mi carrera gubernamental, tratar de hacer de mi ciudad un mejor lugar para vivir y a través de mi experiencia como funcionaria pública, y como todos los ciclos en la vida , me llevarían a dirigir los primeros juegos de la diversidad de México y de América Latina.

    El legado de la magia de los Gay games ahora impactará las vidas de lxs jóvenes latinoamericanxs. Romperá los estereotipos de roles: de qué es ser mujer u hombre; qué profesiones, deportes y hobbies podemos elegir, independientemente de nuestra orientación sexual o identidad de género.

    Los Gay Games Guadalajara 2023 serán un evento histórico, porque serán los juegos de la unión, la fraternidad y el amor para todxs!!

    MONICA SANCHEZ:  The first time I heard about the Gay Games was when FGG visited Guadalajara as part as their site selection process for Guadalajara’s first bid in 2017. The mayor of Guadalajara appointed me to represent the government for that moment on. Gay Games were an enigma for me even though I was involved in the Panamerican Games and I was a former professional beach volleyball player and a frustrated athlete.

    But then, suddenly I found myself in a plane with a bunch of unknown people heading to Paris to officially present our bid. It was not easy, most of us felt uncomfortable in an unknown environment but proudly we did our best and sadly we did not make it. Nevertheless, something had changed inside us all. When we came back from Paris, Juan Carlos Razo invited us to create the first Mexican Federation of Sports and Diversity and, we the committee, decided to continue our way to Paris 2018.


    Monica Sanchez (R) with Laura Flessel, French Minister of Sport, Paris 2018


    Monica Sanchez at the Paris Gay Games Opening Ceremony with Rocio Lancaster from the Mexico delegation

    My first Gay Games in Paris 2018 gave me the opportunity to experience the essence of the games. I opened myself to watch the dance sport among other disciplines. For a Latin woman that has loved to dance all her life, it was difficult to think about same sex dance, and guess what? It was the best performance I saw in Paris and the one that impacted me the most emotionally. The beauty behind those couples, even though the place was not good at all, made me reflect and share with our community back home the same feeling. It was one of many reasons I wanted to be part of bringing the Games for the first time to México and Latin America. The magic of the Gay Games legacy had already touched me.

    Then, after difficult times for all of humanity and the loss of my father due to COVID, the governor appointed me to bid again in Brighton in 2021. Against all odds, Juan Carlos, Rocio, Alex and myself decided to “live the big brother London” in order for us to be present and in “equal conditions” with Valencia and Munich. One of the best experiences in my life, I found true friends and that made feel united and we made a great and powerful presentation. It was a great presentation because finally in front of the FGG members (first time publicly) I came out with my personal story.

    I was born to be an athlete but my family and a macho (manly) and Catholic society, were not ready for a free and a liberated woman. I started as a basketball player at the age of 8, at 11 I was already at the state team, and when I turned 12, I as part of the National Team. But guess what, my coach was “too masculine” a “marimacha” in Spanish to my family and they were not going to allow me to be like her. So, I tried every sport possible until I became very late in my life a professional beach volleyball player. Later in life, my father apologized to me for not breaking his mind and stereotypes to allow me to choose my path. Now, I understand that my destiny was to try to make my city a better place to live through my government career and that brought me to lead the first Gay Games in Latin America.

    The magic of the Gay Games legacy now will impact the Latino American young population. It will break the stereotypes of the roles of how to be a woman or a man. What career or sport you can choose independently of your sex or gender orientation. Gay Games Guadalajara will make history because they will be the games of the union, the fraternity, and love for all!!

    * * *

    EL ESTIGMA DE SER GAY EN MEXICO Y ATLETA

    JUAN CARLOS RAZO: Soy Juan Carlos Razo, crecer en un país latinoamericano en los 80s siendo gay no era nada sencillo, el machismo y las costumbres sociales hasta el día de hoy siguen siendo frentes por los cuales luchar día a día. Pero nada comparado a intentar ser seleccionado nacional y gay a la vez, toda una odisea.

    Yo encontré en el deporte la puerta de escape para mis problemas de ese momento, aprendí que siendo deportista podría viajar y estar en un mundo ajeno al infierno en el que vivía, mi deporte el voleibol me dio esa oportunidad, que un día tomé y jamás la solté.

    El camino no fue fácil, siempre supe contra lo que tendría que luchar y aguantar, la vida misma me lo comprobó que el esfuerzo tendría que ser el triple siendo gay si quería llegar al equipo nacional, lo cuál conseguí a los 19 años, unos años más adelante siendo inclusive fuí el capitán, el primero abiertamente gay en la historia de mi país en un equipo representativo.

    El deporte me abrió muchas puertas, ser un deportista de alto rendimiento me enseñó las bases de la responsabilidad, la constancia y sobre todo la entereza de creer en ti y en tus sueños, pero lo más importante … el sentimiento y el orgullo de ser tú mismo.

    El proyecto de Gay Games es muy importante para mí, ahora como presidente de la federación mexicana deportiva de la diversidad puedo extender ese sentir, ese espíritu de pertenencia y seguridad a muchas más personas, que sin esta oportunidad seguramente nunca en su vida tendrían la opción de sentirse dentro de un proyecto tan empático, libre y afín. Trabajar por traer Gay Games por primera vez a México y Latinoamérica me llena de satisfacción y orgullo, por primera vez tendremos la oportunidad de abrir puertas y recibir a atletas de todo el mundo, haciendo lo que en México sabemos hacer mejor: Ser excelentes y los mejores anfitriones.

    Los juegos también serán parte esencial en el proceso de identidad, aceptación e integración de la comunidad LGBTQI+ en la sociedad misma. Los juegos se dan en el mejor momento, justo cuando el tema ha tomado una gran importancia en nuestro país, estoy seguro que serán el primer gran proyecto de muchos que soñaremos y concretaremos con trabajo, porque así como un día soñamos con ver en nuestro país este gran evento, así llegarán otros más.

    Dedico este proyecto y este sueño a dos grandes amigos, los cuales como muchos de nosotros se adelantaron en el camino de la vida, Alfonso Jackson, compañero de juego y de mil aventuras y Ricardo Vázquez, gran amigo y guía en mis primeros pasos en la vida gay, sé que estarán felices por todo esto y compartirán conmigo cada día de los juegos cuando por fin los tengamos en casa.

    THE STIGMA OF BEING A GAY ATHLETE IN MEXICO


    Juan Carlos playing Beach Volleyball
     

    JUAN CARLOS RAZO: I am Juan Carlos Razo. Growing up in a Latin American country in the 1980s, being gay was not easy at all. Machismo and social customs to this day continue to be issues that we fight day after day. But nothing compared to trying to be part of the Mexican national volleyball team and gay at the same time. It was quite an odyssey.

    I found in sports the escape door for my problems at that time. I learned that as an athlete I could travel and be in a world far removed from the hell in which I lived. Volleyball gave me that opportunity, which one day I took and never let go. The journey was not easy, I always knew what I’d have to fight against and endure. Life itself proved to me that the effort would have to be triple being gay if I wanted to reach the national team, which I achieved at age 19. A few years later, I became the team captain and the first openly gay player in the history of the country on a representative team.

    Sports opened many doors for me. Being a high-performance athlete taught me the bases of responsibility, perseverance, and above all the strength to believe in yourself and your dreams. But most importantly... the feeling and pride of being yourself.

    The Gay Games project is very important to me. Now as the president of the Mexican Federation of Sports for Diversity, I can extend the feeling of belonging to many more people who without this opportunity would surely never have the option in their lives to be part of such empathic, freeing, and amazing event. Working to bring the Gay Games to Mexico and Latin America for the first time fills me with satisfaction and pride. For the first time, we’ll have the opportunity to open our doors and receive athletes from all over the world, doing what we do best: be welcoming and excellent hosts.

    The Gay Games will also be an essential part of the process of identity, acceptance, and integration of the LGBTQI+ community in society itself. The games take place at the best time, just when the topic has taken on great importance in our country. I am sure that it will be the first great project of many more that we’ll dream of and achieve with hard work and dedication.


    Juan Carlos with Alfonso Jackson (Mexico national volleyball Alfonso (national team volleyball member

    )

    Juan Carlos (L) with Ricardo Vazquez, mentor and life long friend

    I’d like to dedicate this project and this dream to two great friends, who, like many of us, went ahead on the path of life - Alfonso Jackson, a great companion in the game and a thousand adventures, and Ricardo Vázquez, a great friend and guide through my first steps in the gay life. I know they will be happy about the Gay Games taking place in our country and will share with me the joy when we finally have them at home.

    * * *

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

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