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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  • 15 Dec 2021 14:28 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Two 40th Anniversary Pins Now On Sale. Order Yours Today!

    Just in time for 2022 and the 40th Anniversary of the first Gay Games, two exciting new collectible pins are now available for sale. Help kickoff the 40th Anniversary celebrations; buy yours now at gaygames.org/store (or click on the “Store” link at the top of the home page).

    To preview these exciting collectible offerings, check out THIS VIDEO.



    40TH ANNIVERSARY “PIN PUZZLE” SET

    This is 12 pins in one elegant gift box. These pins represent each of the editions of the Gay Games. They cleverly form a “Pin Puzzle” in the shape of the Federation of Gay Games logo. Inside the beautiful gold ribbon box, you’ll find a printed card telling the design story behind this limited edition offering.

    The individual pins can be removed and worn or displayed however you like. Or, you can showcase them as they come in the gold ribbon box. Each pin measures between 1-½” and 2”.

    Only 500 of these “Pin Puzzles” have been produced and each set is individually numbered. The price is USD 50 each plus shipping.



    40TH ANNIVERSARY TRADING PIN

    This is a small version of the large “Pin Puzzle,” featuring all the historic Gay Games logos arranged in the shape of the FGG logo. This is a substantial pin, measuring 2”, in solid brass with gold trim, and two pin posts to support its weight. It truly is the perfect gift for any Gay Games participant, especially if they collect pins. Order a supply for trading while in Hong Kong at Gay Games 11.

    At the online store, you can purchase individual pins or bundles of 5 or 10 pins.

    • Single Pin = USD 10 plus shipping

    • Pack of 5 Pins = USD 45 plus shipping

    • Pack of 10 Pins = USD 90 plus shipping


    ALL PURCHASES BENEFIT THE FGG

    The net proceeds from all pin sales will be used to further the global mission of the Federation of Gay Games, in the spirit of founder Dr. Tom Waddell.


    SHOP NOW!

    Visit gaygames.org/store (or click on the “Store” link in the top menu on the home page).


  • 03 Dec 2021 09:30 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)


    HIV at 40 is an online news project dedicated to highlighting the untold stories of the HIV epidemic in the United States. It contains a series of articles written by students at the Columbia University Journalism School in New York City.

    On 1 December, this site published a very informative article about the Gay Games and its nearly 40 year history. The article, titled "Gay Games offers HIV positive athletes a stage," was written by Master's Degree student Marco Schaden. The FGG worked with the author to provide content and photographs.

    You can find the article HERE.

  • 31 Aug 2021 19:14 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    The following article appeared on history.com on 27 August 2021. The text is being reprinted with permission below. To read the article online, including several historic photos from the Gay Games, click HERE.


    The organizers of the San Francisco event faced major challenges, including a lawsuit by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

    By Stephen Wood, history.com

    Singer Tina Turner was the main draw at the opening ceremony in San Francisco for the first Gay Games in 1982, but city supervisor Doris Ward may have received the biggest reaction from the crowd. “She said, ‘I’d like to invite you all to the first-ever Gay Olympics,’” remembers Jim Hahn, one of roughly 1.300 competitors in the inaugural event. “And the place just went nuts.”

    But Gay Games I, which ran from August 28-September 5, 1982, faced many challenges, including the U.S. Olympic Committee's lawsuit barring the event from using the name "Gay Olympics." The legal action was a microcosm of the discrimination dealt with by the LGBT community, which still was carving out a place for openly queer people in American society.

    “There were Rat Olympics, there were Xerox Olympics, there were Police Olympics. You could have an Olympics for anything,” says Shamey Cramer, a swimmer who co-led Team Los Angeles in the first Games, “but heaven forbid you should be gay or lesbian.”

    The U.S.O.C. succeeded in blocking the official use of the term "Olympic," but the lawsuit galvanized support for the Games, especially among the gay community.

    Participants in the inaugural event today recall Gay Games I as a watershed moment for gay athletes around the world. "When I walk into the [Gay Games] opening ceremonies," says Hahn, "I always get that sense of history coming back.”

    Ex-U.S. Olympian Helps Organize Gay Games

    Dr. Tom Waddell, a former U.S. Olympian, was one of the lead organizers of the first Gay Games. A two-sport athlete in college, Waddell—who died from AIDS in 1987—was still closeted in 1968, when he placed sixth in the decathlon at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Waddell advised American sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith there on their public statements about their Black Power salute, one of the more notable protests in sports history.

    Like many other LGBT athletes, Waddell wanted to make a similar, powerful statement with an event for gay athletes.

    “You were either a drag queen or in the leather community—those were the stereotypes that were presented to the public at that time,” says Rick Thoman, a track and field athlete who competed in the first Gay Games. “They never thought that we were able to be athletic and be gay at the same time.”

    A number of gay and lesbian sports leagues emerged in the 1970s, as the LGBT community gradually announced itself to mainstream society. Still, many outlets for gay athletes, namely bowling and billiards leagues, were still tied to the bars that had served as safe harbors for decades.

    “The Games offer another place to ‘come out’ besides a dark bar,” Jill Ramsay, the chair of swimming and diving at the first Games, told the Bay Area Reporter, one of the nation's first gay newspapers, in 1982.Like the campaigns of gay politician Harvey Milk, a well-known community organizer, the first Gay Games were a grassroots project. Ahead of the Games, a volunteer group of lesbians fixed up Kezar Stadium, one of the chief venues and former home of the San Francisco 49ers. Waddell used an ironing board as a makeshift sign-up table for the Games on a street corner in the Castro, a hub of San Francisco's gay community. Waddell said the first Gay Games were put on with a modest budget: $220,000. 

    How the First Games Play Out

    At Gay Games I, teams were organized by city, each designing their own uniforms. Age groups were not standardized, and squads for relays and other team sports were often organized on an ad hoc basis.

    Future games would be more organized, but those competitions retained several crucial elements of the first Games: Athletes of all skill levels and orientations are welcome, and winning is not considered as important as setting a personal best. Participants ranged from elite athletes to novices. 

    Charlie Carson, a swimmer who traveled to from New York for Gay Games I in 1982, recalls meeting a young swimmer from Australia who had never competed against others. While warming up, Carson and others gave him tips on the finer points of each stroke to ensure he would not get disqualified. 

    In addition to boxing, basketball, swimming and a number of other traditional Olympic sports, the Gay Games featured billiards, bowling and a physique competition held at the historic Castro Theater. For more than a week, venues around San Francisco were hubs of activity, with restaurants, stores and nightclubs in the Castro district offering special deals for athletes.

    Attendance was mediocre at first, participants say, but rose as the Games went on. About 10,000 spectators attended the opening ceremony at Kezar Stadium. One participant estimates that between 6,000 and 7,000 fans attended the closing ceremony. Extensive coverage of the first Games was found only in the Bay Area Reporter.

    Pioneering a New Tradition

    Thanks to the efforts of Cramer, Hahn, Carson, Thoman, and many others, the Gay Games have taken place every four years since 1982, with recent editions drawing comparable numbers of athletes to the Olympics and Paralympics. Carson remains proud of the impact of the Gay Games on the Olympics and broader sporting world.

    “We weren't oblivious to the fact that what we were doing at the first Games was groundbreaking,” he says. 

    Six years after the first Gay Games, equestrian Robert Dover became the first openly gay athlete to compete in the modern Olympics. Olympic gold medalist Bruce Hayes came out publicly while competing at Gay Games III in 1990. Four years later, diver Greg Louganis came out as part of the opening ceremony of Gay Games IV. According to Outsports, there were at least 185 openly LGBT athletes at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

    The Games also led to a boom in the formation of gay sports clubs across America. “People went back to their communities, and gay sports just came out of the woodwork,” says Thoman, who is still a member of a track club that formed in the wake of the Games.

    “[The Games] gave me confidence to be who I really was,” he adds. “To be able to be an athlete and be gay, it was just a huge burst of pride.”

  • 27 Aug 2021 04:47 | Shiv Paul (Administrator)
    • Jim Hormel, noted philanthropist, medal-winning athlete, and the first US openly gay Ambassador, passed away on August 13 at age 88.

      James Hormel's passing had a special significance for the Federation of Gay Games. In 2002, when the Gay Games Ambassadors program was first unveiled, Mr. Hormel was in the first group of four people so honored. The other three were:

    • Judith Light, Actress and Activist.
    • Tom Bianchi, Artist, Author, Photographer.
    • Bruce Hayes, Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer.

    The FGG's press release of October 28, 2002 had this summary bio about Mr. Hormel:

    James C. Hormel, Former U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. Mr. Hormel has devoted his life to the advocacy of basic human rights, social justice, and the well-being of all individuals. In the course of 30 years of working with top business, government, and academic leaders, he has sought to create, fund, and initiate major programs addressing these concerns and to involve others in public service. He is recognized nationally for his ability to bring together people of different backgrounds and perspectives to form bridge-building coalitions based upon shared values and mutual interests.

    During the last decade, Mr. Hormel has assisted in creating the structure and programs for several community service organizations. He has been instrumental in developing resources for direct service organizations such as the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Project Open Hand, AIDS Emergency Fund, and Shanti Project that serve the HIV and AIDS community in San Francisco. At the national level, Mr. Hormel is a member of the Board of Directors of American Foundations for AIDS Research and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. He is an honorary or advisory member of several other boards, both locally and nationally.

    On June 4, 1999, James C. Hormel was appointed to be Ambassador to Luxembourg. Mr. Hormel was originally nominated in October 1997, and re-nominated on January 6, 1999, and sworn in by the Secretary on June 29, 1999.

    In a fitting statement, Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign, had this statement about Ambassador Hormel:

    “Jim Hormel was a giant in the movement for LGBTQ+ equality. He was a history-making and barrier-breaking diplomat who showed future generations of LGBTQ+ young people that there is no limit to what they can achieve. Jim also understood the power of his platform and the importance of organizing to make change. His commitment in helping to found the Human Rights Campaign and his dedication to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic ensure that the contributions he made will ripple out for years and decades to come. He was a tremendously valued member of the Human Rights Campaign community and his memory will live on at this organization and others that have made up his life’s work. Our hearts are with Jim’s husband, family and friends as we collectively mourn the loss of such a profound advocate and celebrate his decorated and impactful life.” 

  • 09 Aug 2021 10:18 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    On 8 August 2021, the Boston Globe newspaper published an excellent article entitled "The Unpaid Debt to a Pioneering Olympian" authored by Sonia K. Katyal. Sonia is Associate Dean for Faculty Research at the University of California, Berkeley.

    This article is well-timed to coincide with the unprecedented levels of participation (and successes) of openly LGBTQ+ athletes at the just-completed Tokyo Olympics. The article contrasts this situation with the mean-spirited lawsuit filed by the United States Olympic Committee against Tom Waddell (and his co-founders) over the use of the term "Gay Olympics." This contrast is stark.

    This article is being shared with the permission of the Boston Globe.

    You may read the PDF below or read the article online HERE (requires an online subscription).

    Boston Globe Waddell Article 8-8-21.pdf

  • 02 Aug 2021 12:09 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Reprinted from CNN.com

    By Scottie Andrew, CNN

    July 31, 2021


    (CNN) Tom Waddell knew what to expect from an Olympics opening ceremony. He'd experienced one before as a decathlete at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. He remembered the parade of athletes from around the world, proudly marching alongside their flags before an audience of thousands, cheering on their every move.

    Tom Waddell, an athlete in the 1968 Olympics, created the Gay Games first held in 1982 to celebrate LGBTQ inclusion. The next Gay Games are scheduled for 2022 in Hong Kong. Picture above is the 2018 Gay Games opening ceremony in Paris.

    Tom Waddell, an athlete in the 1968 Olympics, created the Gay Games first held in 1982 to celebrate LGBTQ inclusion. The next Gay Games are scheduled for 2022 in Hong Kong. Picture above is the 2018 Gay Games opening ceremony in Paris.

    His gay and lesbian friends in San Francisco, though, had never experienced an event as thrilling or moving as the opening ceremony. According to various archives, he wanted to share with them the awe and the connection he felt in that moment, and thought that maybe, while they basked in the glow of the applause, the rest of the country might recognize their humanity.

    And so Waddell created the Gay Games -- then called the Gay Olympics, until the International Olympic Committee sued over the name. He saw his games as a vessel for change, a venue for activism and a celebration of LGBTQ inclusion.

    "The formula for success was visibility and identity," Waddell said in an interview following the first Gay Games in 1982. "And both were right there on the field. We were visible, and we were identified. And what did people see? They saw healthy people, out there, doing something that everyone could understand. They were out there to compete and have fun -- success. That's what the first Gay Games were all about."

    Participants compete in the dancing event of the 2018 Gay Games in Paris.

    Participants compete in the dance sport event of the 2018 Gay Games in Paris.

    Waddell died in 1987, but the Gay Games continue to this day, growing into an international phenomenon since their first iteration. They draw over 10,000 athletes and sometimes seven or eight times as many spectators, said Shiv Paul, vice president of external relations for the Federation of Gay Games. They feature many of the same sports traditionally seen at the Summer and Winter Olympics - figure skating, track and field, diving - with additions like bowling, e-sports and dodgeball.

    To read the complete article, click HERE.

  • 28 Jul 2021 23:37 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    Reprinted from the ABC News website

    By John Leicester

    July 27, 2021

    TOKYO -- When Olympic diver Tom Daley announced in 2013 that he was dating a man and “couldn't be happier,” his coming out was an act of courage that, with its rarity, also exposed how the top echelons of sport weren't seen as a safe space by the vast majority of LGBTQ athletes.

    Back then, the number of gay Olympians who felt able and willing to speak openly about their private lives could be counted on a few hands. There'd been just two dozen openly LGBTQ Olympians among the more than 10,000 who competed at the 2012 London Games, a reflection of how unrepresentative and anachronistic top-tier sports were just a decade ago and, to a large extent, still are.

    Still, at the Tokyo Games, the picture is changing.

    A wave of rainbow-colored pride, openness and acceptance is sweeping through Olympic pools, skateparks, halls and fields, with a record number of openly gay competitors in Tokyo. Whereas LGBTQ invisibility used to make Olympic sports seem out of step with the times, Tokyo is shaping up as a watershed for the community and for the Games — now, finally, starting to better reflect human diversity.

    “It's about time that everyone was able to be who they are and celebrated for it,” said U.S. skateboarder Alexis Sablone, one of at least five openly LGBTQ athletes in that sport making its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

    “It's really cool,” Sablone said. “What I hope that means is that even outside of sports, kids are raised not just under the assumption that they are heterosexual."

    The gay website Outsports.com has been tallying the number of publicly out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and nonbinary athletes in Tokyo. After several updates, its count is now up to 168, including some who petitioned to get on the list. That's three times the number that Outsports tallied at the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. At the London Games, it counted just 23.

    “The massive increase in the number of out athletes reflects the growing acceptance of LGBTQ people in sports and society,” Outsports says.

    Daley is also broadcasting that message from Tokyo, his fourth Olympics overall and second since he came out.

    After winning gold for Britain with Matty Lee in 10-meter synchronized diving, the 27-year-old reflected on his journey from young misfit who felt “alone and different" to Olympic champion who says he now feels less pressure to perform because he knows that his husband and their son love him regardless.

    “I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now you are not alone," Daley said. "You can achieve anything, and there is a whole lot of your chosen family out here."

    “I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion,” he added. “Because, you know, when I was younger I thought I was never going to be anything or achieve anything because of who I was.”

    Still, there's progress yet to be made.

    Among the more than 11,000 athletes competing in Tokyo, there will be others who still feel held back, unable to come out and be themselves. Outsports’ list has few men, reflecting their lack of representation that extends beyond Olympic sports. Finnish Olympian Ari-Pekka Liukkonen is one of the rare openly gay men in his sport, swimming.

    “Swimming, it’s still much harder to come out (for) some reason," he said. "If you need to hide what you are, it’s very hard.”

    Only this June did an active player in the NFL — Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib — come out as gay. And only last week did a first player signed to an NHL contract likewise make that milestone announcement. Luke Prokop, a 19-year-old Canadian with the Nashville Predators, now has 189,000 likes for his “I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay" post on Twitter.

    The feeling that “there's still a lot of fight to be done” and that she needed to stand up and be counted in Tokyo is why Elissa Alarie, competing in rugby, contacted Outsports to get herself named on its list. With their permission, she also added three of her Canadian teammates.

    “It’s important to be on that list because we are in 2021 and there are still, like, firsts happening. We see them in the men’s professional sports, NFL, and a bunch of other sports," Alarie said. "Yes, we have come a long way. But the fact that we still have firsts happening means that we need to still work on this.”

    Tokyo's out Olympians are also almost exclusively from Europe, North and South America, and Australia/New Zealand. The only Asians on the Outsports list are Indian sprinter Dutee Chand and skateboarder Margielyn Didal from the Philippines.

    That loud silence resonates with Alarie. Growing up in a small town in Quebec, she had no gay role models and "just thought something was wrong with me.”

    "To this day, who we are is still illegal in many countries," she said. “So until it's safe for people in those countries to come out, I think we need to keep those voices loud and clear."

  • 08 Jul 2021 23:44 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    On 6 July, the Bloomberg news site featured an excellent segment about Gay Games Hong Kong. The online description reads as follows;

    Hong Kong is set to host the Gay Games in 2022. It's the first time the event has been held in Asia and organizers have called for solidarity from the city's government and businesses. But one local lawmaker has branded the Games "disgraceful" and a source of "dirty money." Dennis Philipse, founder and co-chair of the Hong Kong Gay Games 2022, and Queer Paralympian Theresa Goh, speak with Yvonne Man. (Source of video: Bloomberg)

    Click the image below to view the video segment.

  • 04 Jul 2021 18:32 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    The FGG was contacted about assisting the producers of the Hearst TV weekly News show, MATTER OF FACT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN. They were doing a pride month story about the origins of the Rainbow flag.

    It is well known that the late Gilbert Baker from San Francisco created this iconic flag in 1978. What is less well known is that Tom Waddell contacted Mr. Baker about decorating Kezar Stadium for the Opening Ceremony of Gay Games I in 1982. The FGG provided several photos for inclusion in this TV well-produced and accurate segment.

    You may see the TV segment HERE or HERE.

  • 03 Jul 2021 17:14 | Douglas Litwin (Administrator)

    One of the famous "Ding Ding" trams that traverses Hong Kong island from east to west is now bearing the custom colors of GGHK. See these colorful photos.
      

    This tram will be on the streets for the entire month of July. In September, the tram will be back on the streets with alternate graphics that promotes the opening of full registration.

    These colorful trams have been running through Hong Kong island since 1904. They are very inexpensive, old-fashioned, and slow as they cruise through the streets of the city. But each one now represents a mobile billboard, raising all kinds of local interest in Gay Games 11.

    These trams are among the most unique and best-loved symbols of Hong Kong.

    If you'd like to read more about the "Ding Ding" trams and their special place in Hong Kong history, click HERE.

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