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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.

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  • 16 Nov 2023 10:20 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    2023 Tom Waddell Award recipient Roger Brigham (along with Emy Ritt of Paris, France) is a retired journalist who authored a regular sports column ("Jock Talk") in the Bay Area Reporter newspaper for 15 years.

    Despite some serious health issues, Roger has just returned from Guadalajara with a new appreciation for the Gay Games, which was delayed a year due to COVID and was also simultaneously held in Hong Kong. Despite media reports leading up to the events that focused on low attendance and other issues, Brigham writes that once the Games actually started, volunteers who worked behind the scenes to make the athletic and cultural events happen were filled with pride.

    "These Gay Games were not numerical failures; they were successes built on shared values and commitments,” he writes. “They were testaments to the value and strength of the inclusive sports movement even in the face of overwhelming global challenges.”

    To read the entire excellent article, please click HERE.

  • 03 Nov 2023 22:11 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    On the eve of the Opening of Gay Games XI, the venerable National Geographic magazine has published a very flattering article about Guadalajara, one of the two cities (along with Hong Kong) hosting the event.

    The article, by Charlotte Lytton, describes Guadalajara as "One of Mexico’s biggest and most historic cities, but Jalisco’s state capital is only just stepping into the international limelight."

    Read the entire article HERE.

  • 03 Nov 2023 21:50 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    On Monday, October 16, West Hollywood City Councilmember John Heilman presented a City of West Hollywood flag to the athletes participating in the upcoming Gay Games XI in Guadalajara Mexico November 4-11. 

    Heilman is a Gay Games veteran himself, having played Volleyball at Gay Games III: Vancouver 1990, and served on the Advisory Board for Gay Games IX: Cleveland+Akron 2014.

    On hand to accept the flag was Shamey Cramer, founder of Team Los Angeles for the inaugural Gay Games in 1982, and a Gay Games XI finalist for the Tom Waddell Award. Joining him were representatives from CheerLA, LA Frontrunners, Los Angeles Tennis Association, Southern California Wrestling Club and West Hollywood Aquatics, including President Isaac Trumbo; and other non-affiliated participants.

    The Team LA / WH representatives are pictured with West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shane (holding the left corner of the flag), Council members Chelsea Byers, and Lauren Meister,, Mayor Pro Temper John Erickson, and Council Member Heilman (on the far right).

    Below are the remarks Cramer delivered to the council:

    Thank you Councilmember Heilman, and Mayor Shyne, Mayor Pro Temp Erickson, Members Meister and Byers, as we gather on the ancestral lands of the Tongva and Kizh people.

    Before you stands representatives of the more than 120 athletes competing in 15 of 20 sports from West Hollywood and greater Los Angeles, under the banner of Team Los Angeles / West Hollywood.

    Guadalajara is incorporating the Día los Muertos theme throughout the Gay Games. As a way to respect that theme, we are asking our Team LA / WH athletes to carry a photo of a fallen team-mate or loved one whose spirit will be with us as we enter during Opening Ceremony.

    One of those photos will be of Ron Stone. I knew Ron through his leadership on the West Hollywood Cityhood Initiative in the early 1980s where he earned the moniker “The Father of West Hollywood.” Ron was also a member of West Hollywood Aquatics, so it is only fitting that we celebrate his life and contributions that led to the creation of this flag, which is a symbol for Freedom and Possibilities for so many, all across the globe.

    These will be the first Gay Games not held in Europe or an English-speaking country; and the first to take place in Asia and Latin America.

    The increase in participation from Latin American and Asian countries is already noticeable. Guadalajara aquatics event, for example, nearly forty percent of the registrants are from Mexico, Central and South America. Next year, both the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics and International Gay & Lesbian Football (soccer) will hold their championship tournaments in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Collectively, this is a monumental step forward in building queer sports and culture communities in countries where identifying as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community often requires courage and defiance to come out, often at great personal risk.

    As the Gay Games slogan states: “Games Change the World.” In many ways, those participating at these Gay Games - especially those competing in their first Gay Games - will experience many of the same emotions that us Gay Games pioneers felt when we broke barriers participating in the inaugural Gay Games in San Francisco forty-one years ago.

    I couldn’t be more proud to lead this contingent of athletes and artists from West Hollywood and Los Angeles as we embark upon this Journey together, promoting the Gay Games motto of Participation, Inclusion, Personal Best.; Thank you for your recognition and continued support, best of success to our friends in Hong Kong, y Vamanos Guadalajara!

  • 26 Oct 2023 19:00 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    The Federation of Gay Games has announced the two recipients of the 2023 Dr. Tom Waddell Award for significant service and commitment to LGBTQ+ sport and culture.

    Tom Waddell Award recipients Emy Ritt (left) and Roger Brigham (right)

    From six finalists, two people of different genders have been chosen to receive this prestigious award by the Tom Waddell Award Selection Committee and by the Board of Directors of the Federation of Gay Games.

    Emy Ritt has been nominated for her many years of service to the Gay Games movement, in particular serving on the FGG Board which included seven years as Co-President, VP of Diversity, VP of Host Relations, and service on many FGG committees.

    Roger Brigham was nominated  for his decades of service to the LGBTQ+ sports community as a professional journalist and directly for the FGG, where he created communications initiatives, served on the Strategic Planning Committee, and helped develop the FGG’s anti-doping policy.

    The other finalists were Annette Wachter, Kurt Dahl, Laura Moore, and Shamey Cramer.

    The FGG board and assembly would like to extend congratulations and heartfelt thanks for all that these recipients and other nominees have accomplished in support of the Gay Games movement.

    Read the complete announcement HERE.

    Learn more about the Tom Waddell Award HERE.

  • 23 Oct 2023 11:53 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    The Federation of Gay Games congratulates long-time member and supporter Brent Minor for receiving the "Local Hero Award" by readers of the Washington Blade in their annual "Reader's Choice" poll.

    Photo: Michael Key, Washington Blade

    There were more than 4,000 nominations and 30,000 votes were cast in more than 60 categories for the 22nd annual Best Of awards.

    As the article notes, Brent Minor recently announced his retirement after serving as President and then Executive Director for Team DC, one of the largest LGBTQ+ sports organizations in any city. Team DC currently includes more than 40 LGBTQ or LGBTQ-supportive sports teams or sports leagues as affiliated members.

    The article mentions that Brent also served on the FGG Board from 2002 - 2008. It does not mention that among other posts, Brent served as the FGG's Co-President.

    Read the entire article HERE.

    Congratulations from your FGG friends, Brent.

  • 12 Oct 2023 11:41 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    by Shamey Cramer

    Left: Mexico City Olympics Opening Ceremony 12 October 1968; Right: Tom Waddell at the Mexico City Olympics  

    The initial concept to have a sports and cultural festival open to all was born on Saturday 12 October 1968 (exactly 55 years ago today). That was the day when Dr. Thomas F. Waddell, a member of the U.S. Decathlon team, walked into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the Mexico City Summer Olympics. As he would later state, he felt as if his heart was going to burst; and that it was something everyone should experience. In the end, it wasn’t about where he finished, but the fact he had participated and did his best.

    Given that Tom was an active member of the U.S. military, he was unable to compete openly as a gay man at the 1968 Olympics. It would be more than a decade before he took his idea from Mexico City to create the global sports and cultural festival known as the Gay Games.

    Now, 55 years after that initial spark of an idea, the Gay Games will be held in Mexico for the first time. On 04 November, thousands of participants will march into the Metropolitan Sport Center to participate in the Gay Games XI Opening Ceremony. Interestingly, it was on 04 November, 1981, that San Francisco Arts & Athletics, the non-profit organization Dr. Waddell and others created to produce Gay Games I and II in 1982 and 86, was incorporated with the State of California.

    Making this occasion even more unique, there will also be a Gay Games sport and culture festival happening in Hong Kong the same week. Hong Kong had originally been chosen to be the sole host for Gay Games XI. However, given the delays and restrictions imposed by the recent global pandemic, the Federation of Gay Games (FGG), the governing body for the Gay Games, felt it best to expand its offerings. 

    In 2022, at the suggestion of, and approval by, the Hong Kong organizers, the FGG asked the Guadalajara bid team that had been a runner-up to Hong Kong to step in and assist. Thus, for the first time in history, the Gay Games will be held on two continents at the same time. And in both instances, it will be the first time the Gay Games are in either Asia or Latin America.

    Although registration numbers will be significantly lower for various reasons, the increase in participation from Latin American and Asian countries will be noticeable. In the Guadalajara aquatics event, for example, nearly forty percent of the registrants are from Mexico, Central and South America. Previous attendance by Latin American athletes at the quadrennial Gay Games, and the annual International Gay & Lesbian Aquatic Championships has been minimal. This will be a huge step forward in building queer sports and culture communities in countries where identifying as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community often requires courage and defiance to come out, often at great personal risk.

    In many ways, those participating at these Gay Games will experience many of the same emotions that us Gay Games pioneers felt when we broke barriers participating in the inaugural Gay Games in San Francisco forty-one years ago.

    If I have one regret for these Gay Games, it is that my late colleague, Tom Waddell, is not here to welcome the Gay Games back to the country that provided the spark - “la chispa” - that has kept the Gay Games flame shining so brightly all these years.

    A tribute video to Dr. Waddell and the history of Mexico participating in the Gay Games has been prepared. To see it, click HERE.

    To read more about the history of the Gay Games from its inception to the present day, please click HERE to read the "Passing The Torch" series.

    * * *

    Shamey Cramer is the founder of Team Los Angeles | West Hollywood and a Gay Games XI Tom Waddell Award finalist. He will once again serve as General Manager for Team LA|WH at Gay Games XI: Guadalajara 2023 and compete in swimming as a member of West Hollywood Aquatics.

  • 17 Sep 2023 18:29 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    The 2023 finalists for the prestigious Tom Waddell Award were announced on 15 September. They were chosen from a larger field of nominees who were considered by the Award Sub-Committee.

    The six individuals are:

    Award #1:

    Roger Brigham, Oakland USA

    Shamey Cramer, Los Angeles USA

    Kurt Dahl, Ft. Lauderdale USA

    Award #2:

    Laura Moore, New York City USA

    Emy Ritt, Paris France

    Annette Wachter, Cologne Germany

    Congratulations to all these finalists!

    The Tom Waddell Award Sub-Committee will make its final selection of the two Award recipients on 26 September. That decision will be confirmed at the FGG Board meeting on 8 October. At that time, all finalists will be informed of the results and the FGG will issue a press release. The results will also be posted here.

    The awards will be presented at Gay Games XI in November 2023 in both Guadalajara and Hong Kong.

    This is the second time Roger Brigham has been nominated. On the occasion of his 2018 nomination, he wrote an article in his sports column in the Bay Area Reporter newspaper. It profiles the other finalists and provides important background on the award. Read that article HERE.

    More information about the Tom Waddell Award may be found HERE.

  • 28 Aug 2023 14:18 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Today, 28 August is "Diversity In Sport Day."

    Their new podcast, "Matters of Inclusion," is now live! Tune in to hear World and Paralympic champion Candace Cable, the first woman to medal in both the Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, discussing her career, her inspirations and the topic of "ableism." At the very end of this podcast, Shamey Cramer includes a really nice reference to Gay Games XI, happening in November for the first time in Asia and in Latin America.

    World and Paralympic champion Candace Cable with DiS co-founder Shamey Cramer

    To see Candace Cable win her bronze medal in the 800m wheelchair race at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, click HERE or the photo below. To have this wheelchair event take place right in the middle of the Summer Olympics did for para athletes what the Gay Games has done for the LGBTQ+ community every four years since 1982.

    August 28 was chosen to be Diversity In Sport Day for several reasons. Primary among them is that the Opening Ceremony of Gay Games I took place exactly 41 years ago. In addition, exactly one year from today, the Paralympics in Paris will have their Opening Ceremony.

    Subscribe to our YouTube channel,  DiS Day, August 28 to listen in now.

    Diversity in Sport Day is YOUR day!

    CELEBRATE… your athletic achievements

    MOTIVATE… other athletes, coaches and administrators

    ADVOCATE… for universal equity in sport

    Commemorate the day by posting on social media, letting others know what Diversity in Sport means to you – and please use the hashtags #ThisIsYourDay #DiversityinSport #CelebrateMotivateAdvocate #dis28 #inclusionmatters

    Make sure to tag us and feel free to post on our social sites as well.

    Thank you all for allowing us to be part of your work, and  continued success to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games staff and volunteers, and to the International Paralympic Committee - we are looking forward to seeing many of you one year from today at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony!

    Happy Diversity in Sport Day, and #sharethosehashtags !

    Yours in Sport,

    Shamey Cramer and Tracey Savell Reavis

    + + + + + + + + + + + + +

    About Diversity in Sport Day | August 28

    Diversity in Sport Day, August 28 is an annual event that celebrates trailblazers, triumphs and milestones in sport, motivates others to set new standards of inclusion, and advocates for universal equity in sport and society at large. Shared Diversity in Sport stories will inspire more participation from athletes, executives, teams, and communities. With greater awareness and connection, grassroots and local action will drive our global goal of diversity and inclusion in sport. #DiversityinSport

  • 21 Aug 2023 12:23 | Duncan Campbell (Administrator)

    This month, the Federation of Gay Games is proud to welcome Sophie Cook to our board.  After an impressive career working in sports for over 20 years, Sophie boasts a huge range of skills on her resume, from business owner, politician, TED talker, campaigner, business culture  consultant, magazine editor, charity ambassador, tv broadcaster, sports photographer and many more.  

    Joining the Gay Games board as the new Officer of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Sophie sat down with Duncan Campbell to share her story with us, charting her journey from an AFC Bournemouth photographer through to the present day. 

    The Games are a beacon of hope

    Sophie decided to join the Gay Games because she recognises that sports can help to open doors to teaching people about more inclusive practices, as well as act as a catalyst for education and change.

    “I see sport as this universal language which allows us to start dialogues with a diverse range of people that don't necessarily have an awareness and understanding of the lives of LGBTQ people.  And I think that the Gay Games is such an amazing vehicle for that dialogue.”

    She describes the Gay Games as a safe place for our community, especially since so many LGBTQ people have traditionally been excluded from participating in sports.

    “I think the Games are essential because in so many parts of the world LGBTQ people still face a lot of prejudice and a lot of restrictions on their rights, and the Games provide a beacon of hope for people. I think that is such an essential part of what the Gay Games does for our community”

    Sport gives us an opening for communication

    Sophie’s career has landed her in a variety of interesting situations, all tied together because of the unifying force that is sport.  

    Eight years ago, whilst preparing to address a school assembly, she was confronted with a room full of  school boys giggling at the trans woman they saw before them.  Those giggles quickly stopped when she started talking about her prestigious career in football. 

    And during a sponsored bike ride from one end of Vietnam to another, kids would approach her shouting “Hello David Beckham” - the only three words of English that they knew.  “Sport has a unique place in that it gives us an opening where we can start to communicate”.

    Sophie has also been invited to Moscow to speak to Russian LGBTQ people during the 2018 World Cup. “This was an amazing experience and a chance to really show support” she says.  “Last year I was given the opportunity to go to Qatar but unfortunately, the opportunity to engage with LGBT people on the ground was denied me. So I refused the trip.”
    “I am very lucky that I get these opportunities and that every single thing I do is something that I’m passionate about.  That is one of the greatest gifts I've been given.”

    Sophie also played a variety of sports when she was growing up, taking the role of wicket-keeper in cricket, and goalie in hockey and football.  But after an accident in her 20s racing motorbikes in the Middle East that broke her shoulder into “a million pieces” she had to retire from racing and sports in general.  “I'm still known to pull on a pair of football boots occasionally for a charity football match and I once did three half marathons in a year.”

    Opportunities from living authentically

    Sophie started her career as the cub photographer for AFC Bournemouth, right back before Bournemouth were promoted to the Premier League.  

    “During that summer, I came out to the club as a trans woman. I received a lot of support - from our manager, from the players and most importantly from the fans.  So my first game as Sophie was in the Premier League and I remember being stood on the pitch, photographing the captains in the center circle before kick off and it all being live broadcast.  I had the world’s TV cameras pointed at me - a trans woman - right in the centre of the pitch.”

    “It gave me a lot of hope that when we stand up and realize that we need to live authentically, it opens up other opportunities.  I could either keep my head down and hope that no one noticed the  trans person on the touchline, or I could use the fact that I had this position within the game to try and speak out about the things that were important.”

    Taking joy in having an impact on other people

    Having known that she was trans since she was about seven years old, Sophie really struggled coming to terms with her gender and understanding how there was a way forward for her.  Struggling with her mental health and addiction she had come close to taking her life many times.

    “Then about five years ago, I came up with a philosophy to keep myself safe: ‘I know that one day I might try to take my own life because I don't know how to stop feeling this way, but it won't be today. And in the meantime, I'm going to do the best that I can to enjoy every single day.’ It gave me permission to have those days without guilt or shame.  As soon as I let go of the guilt and shame, I could stop thinking about it emotionally, and start thinking about it logically”. 

    “It's all about living in the day, living in the moment. understanding what our contribution to the world around us can be and taking joy in that contribution, and the way in which our lives can impact other people”

    Sophie wears a starfish pendant around her neck as a reminder of her mission to help others.

    “When I first started speaking publicly about mental health, I was told this story and I’ve carried it with me ever since: There was a woman walking along the beach, and the beach was covered in starfish. She starts picking them up and throwing them back in the sea. This old lady comes over and she says ‘You do realize that this beach is covered in millions of starfish. You can't hope to make a difference.’  But the woman bends down, picks up a starfish and throws it back in the water and she says ‘I have made a difference to that one.”

    “Every single day, if I can make a difference to one starfish, then that was a day when it was worth me being on this planet.  That's my purpose. That's why I do what I do. That's how I take joy in the life that I've been given.  Despite all the trials and tribulations along the path, they're the things that made me who I am and they're the things that give me that awareness of what a gift I have now.”

  • 07 Aug 2023 23:43 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    By Roger Brigham

    I was disappointed to miss out on the chance to make history at the first Gay Games in 1982 in San Francisco – but am delighted to have the opportunity to make history this year at Gay Games XI in Guadalajara.

    Roger Brigham at the 2019 FGG annual meeting in Guadalajara

    Come November, I’ll be one of the longtime Gay Games supporters greeting athletes and artists, coaches and officials, as they gather in the land of tequila and mariachi to wrestle and run, cheer and shoot, dance and dive, in what has proven to be one of the most enduring and valuable institutions our community has ever supported.

    For years we have listened to lamentations as a global pandemic and political upheaval posed threats to one event after another. It often appeared the Gay Games would be among the casualties. Those fears overlooked one reality:

    The Gay Games are athlete strong.

    Instead of stepping back, the Gay Games are stepping up and breaking new ground. For the first time, this will not be one event held in Europe, Australia, or the United States: it will be simultaneous events in Asia and Latin America. For the first time, it will be in an odd-numbered year, pandemic-delayed for the first time in the quadrennial cycle so athletes and artists will not be hindered by governmental travel restrictions.

    Opening Ceremonies for Gay Games XI will be held November 3 in Hong Kong and Guadalajara. Hong Kong was originally selected to host the Gay Games, but when COVID travel restrictions made it unrealistic to expected 12,000-plus athletes and artists to gather in 2022, the event was postponed for one year and Guadalajara, which had already bid to host the Gay Games, was named as co-host.

    The Gay Games freestyle wrestling and grappling tournament will be hosted by Guadalajara at Polideportivo Alcalde II and sanctioned by Wrestlers WithOut Borders. As Chairman Emeritus of WWB, I have been sitting in on discussions with organizers as they make final arrangements. Already a critical mass of registrants is assured.

    Wrestler Carlin Yetts of Ohio and I will be coaching a dozen or so wrestlers from Australia in Guadalajara – a circumstance that illustrates what a magically different and invaluable sort of sporting event the Gay Games are.

    Consider that when I showed up to wrestle at the inaugural 1982 Gay Games, I was not allowed to compete because I hadn’t received the registration information in Alaska. Job and health circumstances kept me out of the following five Gay Games until I finally was able to wrestle in the 2006 Gay Games VII in Chicago, winning gold.

    But for three years before I got on the mat in Chicago, I worked as a volunteer and coach in the Gay Games Movement. As I served on committees, led policy discussions, and spearheaded communications initiatives, I grew more and more in love with the inclusive culture of the movement and its member organizations. I had long taken for granted the rich sports competition opportunities I benefited from in my athletic youth. I became more and more committed to helping nurture those opportunities for others from all walks of life.

    Roger Brigham with fellow FGG and Wrestling legend Gene Dermody

    At the 2010 Gay Games VIII in Cologne, I made friends with three wrestlers from Sydney, Australia. It was an enjoyable, positive experience, and so it was only natural I should coach their larger squad four years later in Cleveland. In 2018 I had a kidney transplant but was on a plane just five weeks later, flying to Paris to coach not just the Sydney team, but a new team from Melbourne – then flew to Australia just months later to coach clinics in both of those cities.

    I believe the emergence of growing numbers of Australians at the Gay Games is symbolic of the success of the Games and underlines the important role the Gay Games play in the greater LGBTQ+ sports movement. For four decades the Gay Games have fought to break down our geographic isolation and improve the quality and variety of competition experiences we can access. The wrestling / grappling tournament will provide my Aussie wrestlers with the chance to test themselves against wrestlers with skill sets they rarely get to face back home.

    I am particularly excited about the chance to be part of the history that will be made in Mexico. There have been pockets of growth in LGBTQ+ sports in many parts of Latin America and this will be the best opportunity to bring them together in the Gay Games Movement. Guadalajara is a fun and welcoming host; it hosted the Pan American Games in 2011, is a tourism hub for Central and Latin America, and Puerto Vallarta is just a quick trip away! I was fortunate enough to visit Guadalajara four years ago on Federation of Gay Games business and found the city delightful, the weather great, the people hospitable, and the food delicious.

    The mariachi and the tequila? Well, they speak for themselves.

    Here’s looking forward to our chance to make history together.

    Learn more about Gay Games XI in Guadalajara HERE

    Learn more about Gay Games XI Wrestling registration HERE

    Learn more about Wrestlers WithOut Borders HERE

    Learn more about Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong HERE

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