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. 

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  • 13 Dec 2018 18:08 | Anonymous

    Reprinted from the Bay Area Reporter

    by Roger Brigham
    Wednesday Dec 12, 2018

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

    AfroGames founder Hlengiwe Buthelezi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Buthelezi said she anticipates growing the AfroGames.

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

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

    Contact the columnist at jocktalkroger@yahoo.com.

  • 25 Nov 2018 23:24 | Anonymous

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

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

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

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

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

    Congratulations, Hlengiwe!

  • 25 Nov 2018 21:26 | Anonymous

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

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

    – Pascale Reinteau, Co-President, Paris 2018

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

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

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

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

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


  • 22 Oct 2018 16:58 | Anonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Military man Paul Mart.

    Stunt man Paul Mart in his Hollywood days.

  • 21 Oct 2018 23:29 | Anonymous

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

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

    Congratulations to Rick and Seth!

    Above: Gay Games loyalist Rick Thoman.

    Above: Gay Games loyalist Seth Shapiro.

  • 26 Aug 2018 19:06 | Anonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 22 Jul 2018 13:07 | Anonymous

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

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

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

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

    HOT TO TROT opens in the following cities:

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

    Learn more about this 88-minute documentary at:



    See the HOT TO TROT trailer HERE

  • 30 Jun 2018 10:27 | Anonymous

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

    Two articles reprinted from Outsports.com
    Articles by Jeremy Brener and Cyd Zeigler

    Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

    Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 29 Jun 2018 11:37 | Anonymous

    On 21 June, 2018, the San Francisco Giants professional baseball team held their 16th Annual LGBT Night Game. Three Gay Games loyalists were honored.

    Left to right: Faham Zakariaei (S.F. Giants), Jim Hahn (bowling), Seth Shapiro (swimming), Rick Thoman (track & field)

    In addition to the Giants winning the game, the evening featured several notable highlights:

    - A pre-game performance on the field by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.

    - The National Anthem sung beautifully by transgender opera singer Breanna Sinclaire.

    - An in-game scoreboard salute to the local artists and athletes going to Paris in August for Gay Games 10.

    One of the biggest highlights took place just before the game started. Three local members of an exclusive club were honored and given the chance to yell out "Play Ball" on the field. These three men are among a very small group of people who have participated in all 9 editions of the Gay Games since 1982 (and they're all going to Paris in August for Gay Games 10).

    Honored at this baseball game were:

    Jim Hahn (bowling)
    Seth Shapiro (swimming)
    Rick Thoman (track & field)

    It was a great moment. Check out the video HERE to see their performance:

  • 18 Jun 2018 11:35 | Anonymous

    Read about Jill’s journey past military and domestic foes on her way to the Paris Gay Games.

    Reprinted with permission from "My Life and Thymes" blog

    By Tom Hymes

    The first Gay Games were held in San Francisco in 1982, and Jill Waters competed in tennis and track. She’d already battled a U.S. Navy intent on expelling LGBT people. Waters, now 64, has attended all but one of the Games, and though her blonde ponytail is now silvered, she still strides on strong runner’s legs and cracks a hard serve. Gay Games 10 will be contested in Paris in August 2018, and Waters is preparing to battle new athletic opponents by facing past demons.

    The first Games introduced an LGBT-friendly sports and cultural event. But marching into the stadium with fellow athletes wasn’t entirely uplifting. Waters relates, “You were proclaiming to the world you were gay. And in the ’80s, that was still difficult. That was dangerous.”

    Waters had known similar fear in her Navy service. She was one of the first women to join a gender-integrated military and faced male superiors who tried to bully women out of the service on false charges.

    Being gay drew added persecution. Randy Shilts’s 1993 book “Conduct Unbecoming” documents interrogations of LGBT service members under threat of imprisonment and disgrace. Waters recalls that when she arrived at a new base without prior associations, her superior told her, “I know there’s lesbians. I want you to tell me who they are. I’ll give you special favors.”

    The witch hunt would later be turned on Waters despite her “walk on water” performance reviews. She feigns a deep voice to mimic Naval Investigative Service authorities who would summon her to face “stories we’ve been hearing about you.” She wasn’t dating so couldn’t be found out, nor was she selling drugs as accused. Still, she found it “very threatening” and traces ongoing PTSD to the mistreatment.

    Waters tempers her account in the belief that today’s U.S. military is far more accepting, and it’s now paying for her medical care and therapy.

    The Gay Games began to feel safer too and steadily flourished. By 2006, participants in Chicago numbered over 11,000 from 70 countries. Waters recalls that, “The opening ceremony was at Soldier Field — where the Chicago Bears play. That’s mainstream.”

    In 2018, her battleground has shifted home to Oceanside.

    During her childhood there, Title IX hadn’t yet mandated equal access for females to school sports, but her mother was proud of Waters’ athletic talent. As the only girl on the boys’ baseball team, she was praised for her strong pitching arm.

    The battle now is at the well-kept country club nearby, where Waters plays on a traditionally named “ladies’” team. Being asked why she’s never married echoes past inquisitions, so she’s still not ready to come out or have her girlfriend of three years come watch her play.

    The earlier military interrogations left Waters traumatized by threatening raised voices, and that fear of conflict is another issue in her relationship. Her own voice becomes urgent when she grasps her need to remain an outsider at the club.

    “I NEED the tennis.” Concentrated training is the path to her ninth Gay Games. Waters confides, “I cannot afford for someone to say, “‘I don’t want that gay woman on my team.’”

    After the Games, she can choose whether to remain a demure-sounding “lady” at the club. She’s a woman, an athlete, a veteran — and suddenly laughs with girlish glee that when she turns 65, she’ll become a young player in the next age division.

    But the prescribed tennis skirt irks Waters. She recently warned her team captain she wouldn’t wear one.

    “The other day, the captain came up to me and said, ‘Look what I did!’ And she had shorts on.”

    “She said, ‘I didn’t want you to feel alone.’”

© 2018 The Federation of Gay Games

The Newsletter of the FGG



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