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Federation of Gay Games News

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

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

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

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

    Gay Games I Opening Ceremony


    Produced and curated by Federation of Gay Games Archivist Doug Litwin and FGG Honourary Life Member Shamey Cramer
    with Ankush Gupta, FGG Officer of Communications

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

    Post 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.

    * * *



    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!

    * * *


    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!!

    * * *


    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.


    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.

  • 20 Aug 2022 10:21 | 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 24 of 40 - 20 August - Gay Games 10

    “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.

    * * *

    * * *

    Noemi Arzate at Paris Gay Games in 2018

    NOEMI ARZATE: Hola mi nombre es Noemi Arzate Miranda de Mexico soy una Mujer Trans activista por los derechos de las personas de la diversidad sexual y de género, deportista, madre de 2 hijos y presidenta de A.C. Azkatl México Diversidad Deporte y Cultura.

    En lo personal a lo largo de mi vida de mi infancia, niñez, juventud y hasta la actualidad el sector trans ha sido el centro de discriminacion dentro de nuestra sociedad, se nos ha negado el derecho en todos los ámbitos en todos los espacios, profesiones y al deporte.

    El deporte en lo personal fue mi impulso para salir adelante, para luchar por mis sueños para disciplinarme para alejarme de las drogas y tener otra perspectiva de la vida como mujer trans,(no solo somos estilistas ni trabajadoras sxuales), no pense que el deporte fuera para mi, tenia mucho miedo ejercerlo por que son espacios eteronormales donde solo existe el machismo.

    Lo intente empese a jugar fútbol dentro de ligas eterosexuales me corrian o se burlaban de mí, pero seguí mi sueño hasta alcanzarlo con muchas resistencias pero muy satisfecha,

    Ahora ya tenemos espacios seguros sin discriminacion, una liga gay que es un recinto dentro de mi comunidad ya por más de 14 años, fui becada por la federación Gay Games donde me dieron la oportunidad de realizar el más grande de mi sueños unas olimpiadas a nivel mundial donde conocí más de 80 países,sus culturas y su pasión por el deporte y el poder representar a mi país fui la mujer más feliz, y para concretar mi felicidad mi sueño obtuve medalla de plata en fútbol soccer, gracias a ese viaje y medalla se me abrieron las puertas en lo personal, laboral y seguir impulsando al sector trans para que alcancen sus sueños.

    obtuve muchos reconocimientos muchas entrevistas, la medalla al mérito deportivo por el congreso de la ciudad de méxico(por primera se le otorga vez a una mujer trans) entre muchas cosas más, gracias a la experiencia  de los Gay Games.hemos llegado a colombia, los ángeles, las vegas etc.

    Ahora seguimos construyendo sueños, trabajando a favor del deporte e inclusión y derechos humanos para las personas LGBTQ+


    Hi my name is Noemí Arzate Miranda de Mexico,

    I am a trans woman, sexual and gender diversity activist, an athlete, mother of 2 sons, and President of the A.C Azkatl Mexico Diversidad Deporte y Cultura 

    Personally, throughout my life, from childhood and young adult life, and currently, the trans community has been at the center of discrimination within our society. We have been denied rights in all areas, spaces, professions, and even sports. However, sports have propelled me toward my dreams, and have given me motivation and discipline to stay away from drugs and a new perspective of life as a trans woman (not all of us are hairstylists or sex workers). I never thought sports were for me. I was afraid to play any sport because they are predominantly heteronormal spaces where machismo exists. 

    Yet, I tried. I started off with soccer, playing in heterosexual leagues, but I was kicked out and made fun of. As challenging as this was I did not let it bring me down because I was chasing my dreams so I kept playing until I was accepted.

    Today, we have safe spaces free of discrimination. We have a gay league and a venue within my community that is now 14 years old. I was since given a scholarship by the Federation of Gay Games where I was provided the opportunity to realize my biggest dream: to participate in the global Gay Games 10: Paris 2018. At the event, I met people from 80 different countries and learned about their respective cultures and passions for sports. It was an empowering experience to represent my country, I was the happiest woman, but more importantly, I earned a silver medal in soccer, which opened the doors to new opportunities to leverage my achievements to pave the way for other people like me in the trans community.

    For now, we keep making dreams a reality, and support sports as a vehicle for inclusion and human rights for the LGBTQ+ community. BECAUSE SPORT IS FOR EVERYONE - TRANS SPORT.

    * * *

    Ivan Yap at the Paris Gay Games in 2018.

    IVAN YAP: My first Gay Games was Paris 2018 thanks to the partial scholarship from FGG which enabled me to participate. I competed in Bowling and won 3 bronze medals. This doubled-up the sweet moment as a first timer. 2018 also coincidentally was the year where I got more involved with FGG. I was elected as the first Asian officer to the Board as Officer-at-Large. My journey with FGG continues today in my second term as the Officer of Membership.

    * * *

    The finish lines for Triathlon and Mountain Cycling. Photos: Franck Weens (L); R. Dugue (R)

    KATE ROWE: Came back again as a volunteer to help with the Paris 2018 triathlon and cycling. This proved to be a challenge. Also participated in both and captured more medals. Was also a Team Sydney rep at the AGA.

    This was to be my last involvement. At 68, it was time to let go and experience new passions. I now play the ukulele, performing when I can.

    * * *

    Hlengiwe and her medals from GG10 Track & Field

    HLENGIWE BUTHELEZI: Great games with 7 medals (3 Golds, 3 Silvers & 1 Bronze). This is a year I left being an Assembly Member and was elected to FGG Board of Directors as an Officer at Large. When I returned home, I was honoured with the Feather Award of Sports Personality of the Year, a prestigious honour, because of the cumulative work I have done for the Queer community over the years, including the Gay Games achievements, and founding the AfroGames, which debuted in December 2018.

    * * *

    The houseboat on the Seine where Jim Hahn and others stayed during GG10

    JAMES HAHN: Gay Games 10 would return us to Europe in the City of Light, Paris. Doug Litwin and I and assorted band members stayed on a beautiful houseboat on the banks of the Seine. It had a 50-foot glass wall on the side of the river. I've never stayed in more beautiful housing. I will always remember this Games because of the venue downtown next to a museum as well as a very welcoming vibe. My favorite story from this Games was from when Doug and I were on a bus on our way back to the houseboat after bowling. After a couple of stops, a young lady and her two sons got on the bus and stood next to us. I noticed that the older of the two boys had a pin in his baseball cap. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the last Team San Francisco pin I had on me and presented it to him. His eyes just lit up! Then it hit me, I didn't have anything for his younger brother. Yikes! I dug into my backpack and thankfully, I had another pin that I could give to the younger boy. I scored twice!

    I spent a few minutes chatting with mom who spoke perfect English and she looked relieved that someone else was entertaining the boys for a few minutes. They got off the bus a little while later, the boys still glowing.

    * * *

    Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris at the GG10 Opening Ceremony. Photo: M. Faluomi

    EMY RITT: I live in Paris and served as an FGG Board Member and Co-President before resigning in December 2014 to serve as the Paris 2018 Director of International Relations.

    The selection of Paris in October, 2013, to host the tenth edition of the Gay Games was based on the long experience of team members in organizing sport events, as well as their in-depth knowledge of the Gay Games, and their ten-year history of organizing the International Tournament of Paris, also known as the TIP. Several Paris team members had previously served on the FGG Board and/or as FGG Delegates representing FSGL, the French umbrella club. Also, the Paris Team had strong relationships with the municipal and national government agencies, and with local businesses and civil society.

    The “City of Light” was easy to sell to potential participants, and for the first time in over ten years, there was no longer any competing global event to consider. However, there were a few glitches along the way, including during the Opening Ceremony. Apparently, the food and drink vendor did not believe that ten thousand people would attend the ceremony, which resulted in a severe shortage of personnel, food, and drink. With very hot temperatures that day, many participants left early. By the end of the ceremony, the stadium was practically empty, and many participants were not happy campers.

    The spectacular GG10 Closing Ceremony at l’Hôtel de Ville

    To see a video of the amazing Closing Ceremony, click HERE

    Fortunately, the rest of the week went very well, and the “saving grace,” so to speak, was the ground-breaking Closing Ceremony, which took place in the center of Paris in front of the historic City Hall (l’Hôtel de Ville) featuring a series of beautifully choreographed sketches performed by many of the local sports clubs. The fabulous costumes, music, and storyline were a huge hit!

    Support from the City of Paris, including the national Department of the Interieur and its Security team, as well as the local police, fire protection, and first responders, was excellent.

    All in all, the week of Paris 2018, the tenth edition of the Gay Games, was a resounding success (un succès retentissant)!

    * * *

    Gay Games 10 Tennis players. Photo: C. Giros

    SHIV PAUL: When I attended my first Gay Games in Cologne in 2010 at the age of 39, I was blown away by how much it moved me, mostly because it was an entirely unexpected feeling. I had moved from London to New York in 2005 with my then boyfriend from whom I split up after 6 months of being in Manhattan. In a new place with a new life before me, I turned to what had given me solace in my youth but which I had neglected for some time because I couldn’t quite find my place in it all – sport. Tennis has always been my first love of sport and I threw myself back into it with a vengeance by joining the gay tennis league in Manhattan.

    My first doubles partner became one of my best friends and we travelled with other friends to compete regularly on the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance tour. When he suggested we attend Gay Games VIII in Cologne, I thought it was simply another tennis tournament we’d be playing in. Arriving in Cologne to the throngs of participants, spectators, and supporters of the Games, the colour, the spectacle, the pure adrenalin was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It rapidly occurred to me that I had had no idea what to expect.

    Like the parade of nations, for example. Seeing representatives - sometimes a sole one - from countries that had severe penalties for being LGBTQ+, both broke my heart and steeled my resolve to do and be something more for my fellow community members. It is easy to feel disconnected from your own community in the LGBTQ+ universe, and disenfranchised too but in that space at that moment – and to this day – I recall feeling that "No, I am not disconnected. I am part of something meaningful and powerful and brave. And there is work still to be done." I am part of a community, a fight, a mission, to support, protect and champion those who are made to feel less than merely because they want to live and be who they authentically are.

    * * *

    Figure Skating in Paris. Laura Moore in the left photo

    LAURA MOORE: The Paris figure skating event was the first one to be recognized by the ISU, at least a portion of it. One day of the competition was judged by ISU judges. Skaters in those events had to skate to ISU rules, with men in skirts and same gender partnering forbidden. Georg Kling is now IGFSU co-delegate to the FGG. He skated a protest performance on the ISU day. It was brilliant and hysterical. He was disqualified and given no score. One judge walked out. One positive highlight of the men’s competition in the ISU portion was an on-ice marriage proposal to a skater’s boyfriend.

    Ice Dance, Pairs, and entertainment categories were run by IGFSU /ISI. ISI officials who had come from the US were very happy to have been a part of such an amazing event, Lisa Fedick of ISI has described our work with the Gay Games as “life changing”. She proudly ordered Gay Games figure skating jackets for all the officials.

    By the time I was training for Paris, I had become an ice dancer. After some partner drama in NY, I arrived in Paris partnerless, but with the costume I had made for the woman I had planned to skate with. I hoped for a Cinderella miracle. I had given her dress and the tuxedo I wore for a solo performance to fellow NY skater Chris Lipari.

    I spread the word that anyone who could skate the American Waltz should contact Chris. My partner for the event was posted as “Mme Mystere.”

    I took the ice for warmup alone. Near the end of the warmup Joel Dear skated up to me wearing my tuxedo. I was in tears as he joined me for the last minute before the dance started.

    My gay prince had arrived. After part of the dance pattern, I was stunned to realize we were not alone on the ice. I saw a very tall muscular blond waiting to take me in his arms for the next part of the dance. It was Christian Erwin, Joel’s ice dance partner. in full drag wearing the dress that matched mine!

    Skating with my hand on his shoulder, trying not to displace his long blond wig, I didn’t notice Jill Ahlbrecht had come to take me through the end of the dance.

    I was awarded a gold medal but none of my “menage a trois” of partners had completed enough required steps to qualify. They sat at my feet on the podium. What a special moment!

    Joel and Christian’s powerful romantic duet skated “In Passing” was an instant Gay Games classic and has been performed in front of numerous Ice Theatre of NY audiences, Joel’s future husband Rishi was a new man in his life in 2018. He didn’t want to see Joel skate until the Gay Games. I laughed when Rishi showed up at an ice rink in shorts, but watched him fall deeper in love with Joel that day.

    Most of the skaters took part in the Exhibition, including a very special group number choreographed and learned in a couple of hours. It began with a waltz in an imaginary Parisian Park. I was thrilled that Mark Stanford was cast as the ingenue who would catch our collective gaze. He wore my lavender dress and was resplendent. I knew Mark when he was a teenager and I was a beginning skater in my 30s. We had not seen each other in decades.

    * * *

    Richard Hogan (R) with former FGG Co-Presidents Rick Peterson and Roberto Mantaci at Paris Opening Ceremony. Over Richard's left shoulder is Laura Moore

    RICHARD HOGAN: My memories of the Paris Gay Games start long before 2018. Many individuals from Paris have contributed to the Gay Games movement over the years and I was very glad the event was finally going to their city.

    The Consul General of France held two receptions in Sydney to promote Gay Games 10. The first was when the FGG held its 2016 Annual Meeting in Sydney. At that gathering, the former High Court Justice Kirby referenced the speech he gave during the Sydney Gay Games opening ceremony. He reminded us of the equality issues we faced in 2002 and compared them to the current state of affairs. While we all agreed there was still much to fight for, our situation had greatly improved, especially with the recent marriage equality decisions in Australia and around the world. 

    The other French reception was for Team Sydney athletes going to Paris. I had the honour of being MC for the night. I rarely get nervous speaking to a group and the night was going well until I had to introduce the VIP guests. I got emotionally choked up when I introduced a local government politician, Christine Forster. Half way through the introduction, I realised it was the first time I ever said, “and her wife.” Perhaps it was the glass of French champagne but that was one moment I will never forget. I realised then that the world was definitely becoming a better place.

    The week in Paris was wonderful. I participated in Track & Field so my days were spent at the stadium renewing friendships made in Cleveland. It was difficult but I found time to play tourist. Of course, there was a reception at the Australian Embassy. The Games Village had a great atmosphere, so I spent quite some time there. During the week I met many of the Hong Kong representatives, and am now looking forward to attending the first Gay Games in Asia in 2023… or maybe I’ll go to Mexico, I’m not sure yet.

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

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

    The End of 1WE: Focus Forward

    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 23 of 40 - 19 August - The End of 1WE: Focus Forward

    “Passing The Torch: Ruby Anniversary Edition” is a factual timeline of the major events that have been part of the Gay Games evolution since its inception. The series will run from 28 July 2022 - one month before the 40th anniversary of the original Opening Ceremony at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium - through 5 September, the anniversary of Gay Games I Closing Ceremony. All postings will remain online and available for viewing at the FGG website.

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    SHAMEY CRAMER: Three months after the Montreal Summit between the FGG and GLISA, the FGG held its Annual General Assembly in Sofia Bulgaria, hosted by Tangra SC; the first time a queer sports-related event occurred east of the Balkans. The Assembly members were very irate that we hadn’t reached a successful conclusion. I remember pointing out to them that the only deal GLISA was willing to consider required the Host Organization to pay nearly US$500,000 License Fee, which was exorbitant and unrealistic. The Assembly representatives insisted we re-engage, so I was once again put on the team, with newly-elected Board member Armin Lohrmann also assigned to the task.

    Koln working group: Martin,  ChristensenArmin Lohrmann, Greg Larocque, Joanie Evans, Barry Taylor, Shamey Cramer

    In October 2013, The FGG and GLISA began communications once again to see about repairing the damage that had been caused ten years earlier by Montreal’s decision to launch the OutGames. During that time, OutGames I in Montreal, OutGames II in Copenhagen and OutGames III in Antwerp all suffered multi-million dollar losses.

    When Joanie Evans joined the Board in early 2014, she replaced Kurt Dahl as the FGG Team Leader for what would become known as One World Event/1WE. Armin, Joanie, and I developed a strong bond and good working relationship. We also worked well with GLISA representatives Gregg Larocque from Canada and Martin Christensen from Denmark. Soon after, Barry Taylor from Australia joined their team.

    L-R: Joanie Evans, Martin Christensen, Barry Taylor, Armin Lohrmann, Shamey Cramer and Greg Larocque

    FGG representatives, including Emy Ritt, had met at the annual meeting for the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation in Lubljana where they outlined and agreed to a revised plan for negotiations.

    It was also around this time I reached out to attorney David Huebner, the former U.S. Ambassador to Aotearoa/New Zealand, who agreed to represent the FGG in our ongoing negotiations. He would later serve as an observer to the legal proceedings involving the detainees held in Guantanamo Bay by the U. S. Government for their involvement with the attacks that occurred on 11 September, 2001.

    In December 2014, SC Janus, the queer sports organization in Cologne Germany, hosted the 1WE Working Group. Although the discussions between the six representatives were mostly smooth, there were several sticking points, including GLISA once again refusing to have a third-party audit of our two organizations.

    During the next thirty days, the Working Group drafted the Cologne Report, which outlined several ways we could move forward. Due to health matters, Barry Taylor stepped down from the group, and was replaced by Victor Elkins, the new GLISA Co-President. Gregg Larocque and I represented the Working Group at a Town Hall in San Francisco in April 2015.

    In May, a Memo of Understanding was drafted and approved between the two groups, which caused quite a bit of animosity from the FGG “Old Guard” based in San Francisco, directing their anger toward the 1WE Working Group, especially the three FGG members. We were subjected to unnecessary vitriol on social media and in the Bay Area Reporter’s Jock Talk opinion column. This, in turn, caused increased obstinance from GLISA during the negotiations, further delaying resolution and putting the FGG team between a rock and a hard place.

    Stockholm meeting, L-R: Armin Lohrmann, Shamey Cramer, Martin Christensen, Joanie Evans, Victor Elkins

    Since GLISA still refused to an external audit, the FGG Board voted unanimously to support a Risk Analysis summary as the Working Group hosted another forum during the Stockholm 2015 EuroGames. Also in attendance was Ivan Cano, the main organizer for the Miami 2017 OutGames.

    On September 26, in a show of solidarity, a Site Selection meeting was scheduled. Unfortunately, GLISA representatives did not attend. A week later during the monthly 1WE Working Group call, I once again pressed to have an outside audit, with GLISA representative Gregg Larocque claiming it was “not worth the expense.”

    During its 2015 Annual General Assembly in Limerick Ireland, the FGG voted to support the Memo of Understanding, but chose not to accept the first two of the four options presented in the Cologne Report. Thus, the FGG Board continued focusing on the other two options as it moved forward with its Risk Analysis.

    It was also determined that the next step would be for each organization to have seven representatives on a Transition Commission. The FGG team was pleased to have former FGG Co-Presidents Kathleen Webster and Rick Peterson join the FGG Board members who had been part of this operation the past three years.

    In order to activate the Risk Analysis, the FGG created a list of 48 questions - 31 which were submitted to GLISA for a response. Unfortunately, GLISA continued to stall, refusing to respond to the questions.

    Despite continued letters back and forth between the two sets of Co-Presidents, GLISA continued to refuse to respond to the FGG requests, or appoint members to the Transition Commission. On 29 January 2016, The FGG submitted its third request for a response to our 31 questions, with a 5 February response deadline, letting GLISA know that not responding to the questions made it too high risk a venture to create a combined quadrennial event.

    When GLISA chose not to respond, the FGG Board voted at its February meeting to cease all discussions and activities with GLISA. A letter was sent to the GLISA Co-Presidents on 2 March informing them of our decision, and published a Letter to the Global LGBTIQ+ Sports Community citing our reasons for doing so.

    It had been more than a dozen years since Montreal had walked away from hosting Gay Games VII, and seven since the FGG did everything it could to create a unified event. The following year, on what was supposed to be the Opening Day for OutGames IV: Miami 2017, with thousands of athletes and artists already assembled, Ivan Cano and the other organizers issued a statement informing the participants that they had not secured the venues and were cancelling the OutGames.

    Needless to say, since most of the athletes and artists were already in Miami or literally in flight, there was a lot of anger. Following an investigation by the state of Florida’s Attorney General, it was deemed that although the Miami organizers had mismanaged their event, they could not be held liable for the financial burden by those who had trained, registered, and attended the anticipated event.

    Although the organizers shirked their responsibilities, many of the local sports organizations, as well as those with previous experience producing their sport competitions, worked fervently to present opportunities for the athletes and artists to engage. It was nice to see that even in the most difficult of circumstances, the athletes and artists rose to the occasion.

    GLISA soon folded, and the following year, Gay Games 10: Paris 2018 proved to be the most financially successful Gay Games to date.

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    Ad for the ill-fated 2017 Miami OutGames Opening Ceremony, cancelled one day before it was scheduled to take place

    TONY SMITH: Along with promoting Gay Games 10 Paris and the bid process for Gay Games 11, the road to Paris also entailed the arduous communications necessary during the negotiations with the World OutGames organization. OutGames ended up closing operations in that timeframe due to corporate mismanagement. With regards to communications efforts, I was adamant that the FGG would always take the higher ground and empathy for all during those tough times. The FGG’s success has continued due to its commitment to athletes, supporters, and the mission of the organization.

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    The rainy 2014 International Rainbow Memorial Run, held just outside historic Kezar Stadium, the site of GGI and GGII. Reggie Snowden holds the green flag. The center photo shows Gene Dermody holding the microphone for Brent Nicholson Earle, who is wearing Tom Waddell's 1968 Olympic warm-up jacket.

    REGGIE SNOWDEN: Living in San Francisco, we are lucky to have so many historic events right here in our backyard. From the inception of the Gay Olympics that became Gay Games to the creation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, I don’t need to walk far to find inspiration.

    In 2014, I attended the International Rainbow Memorial Run with a small handful of members from the San Francisco Track & Field Club and San Francisco FrontRunners. It was another foggy, rainy morning in San Francisco and the incomparable warrior Brent Nicholson Earle shared his words of wisdom and emotional story about running across the United States for Breast Cancer awareness and for those he had lost to AIDS. Each section we stopped along the run, Brent would share more stories and it ended at the United Nations Plaza at Civic Center, downtown San Francisco when they did the quilt ceremony and read names we can never forget. We had about 15 people towards the end of the event. I promised Brent I would organize the next International Rainbow Memorial Run that would take place in 2018, prior to Gay Games, Paris.

    To follow up with my promise to Brent, I started to reach out to various clubs. Being an active member of San Francisco FrontRunners, it was easy to get the runners involved along with San Francisco Track & Field. Cheer San Francisco lead us with a roar as wrestlers, basketball players, volleyball players, soccer players, tennis players and other organizations were in attendance.

    The President of SF FrontRunners welcomed us as we had one of the largest circles to welcome guests and supporters. Honorary Lifetime Members of the Federation of Gay Games Brent Nicholson Earle and Gino Carmody, both recipients of the prestigious Tom Waddell Award, addressed the participants as we proceeded from Stow Lake to the AIDS Memorial Grove where more stories were shared. From there, we ran to where it all began in 1982: Kezar Stadium. We did a roll call of each city Gay Games were hosted by and recognized a couple members who have attended all Gay Games since 1982. From there we completed the run and we’re welcomed by CHEER San Francisco and sister clubs as we completed the run.

    We were honored to have Gino Carmody sing and speakers included Sara Lewinstein Waddell and State Senator Scott Wiener. As the names were announced and the quilt ceremony took place, CHEER San Francisco created an impromptu magical moment as they embraced hands to form a large circle of around 80 participants. As so many names were announced, there were tears of sorrow as we reflected on how far we have come but also as a reminder that our fight isn’t over yet for participation, inclusion and personal best around the world.

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

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