Featured events

7-9 September 2012
Brussels Games

Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.

Learn more HERE.
26-28 October 2012
Bern, Switzerland

The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.

Learn more HERE.
17-20 January 2013
Sin City Shootout
Las Vegas
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.

Learn more HERE.

13-16 June 2013
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.

Learn more HERE.

Friday, August 17, 2012


As of 17 August 2012, the Federation of Gay Games blog is hosted on our new website:


See you there!

Get Gay Travel reports on day 5 of Gay Games VIII

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Get Gay Travel report on Gay Games VIII triathlon

Auf Deutsch / Team Muenchen Streetboys in Budapest

An interview with Rainer Schweyer of Team Muenchen Streetboys football team, a member of FGG member organizations Team Muenchen and IGLFA on their participation in the football tournament at the 2012 Eurogames in Budapest:

Rainer Schweyer ist Manager der »Team München Streetboys«, dem einzigen schwulen Team im regulären Ligabetrieb des DFB. Im ballesterer-Interview spricht er über die Drohungen bei den EuroGames in Budapest, Homophobie am Platz und die möglichen Folgen eines Promi-Outings.

Stefan Heissenberger | 15.08.2012

Warum sind die »Team München Streetboys« hier in Budapest?
Rainer Schweyer: Die diesjährigen EuroGames finden ja zum ersten Mal in einem osteuropäischen Land statt. Gerade in Ungarn, wo gleichgeschlechtliche Lebensformen von der Regierung nicht unterstützt werden, ist es wichtig, uns solidarisch zu zeigen.

Wie habt ihr die Hetze der rechten politischen Parteien gegen die Spiele aufgenommen?
Diese Äußerungen waren für uns eine Zusatzmotivation, hierher zu kommen. Wir haben den Zuschlag für Budapest von Beginn an unterstützt und mitverfolgt, insofern sind wir von der Haltung der Stadt nicht überrascht.

Weiter lesen

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NBC gets coverage of Matthew Mitcham's sexual orientation mostly right the second time around

Nike Better World

This video was a hit at the Nike LGBT Sport Summit last weekend in Portland. Enjoy it!

"We won't rest until every living breathing person on this planet has access to sport". That's a message the FGG can support 100%.

Gay Games VIII in Project Q: Wesley Anderson’s second ‘tri’

We missed this series from Project Q Atlanta when it first appeared, but are pleased to share these stories of Atlantans in Cologne for Gay Games VIII:

Among the more than 9,000 LGBT athletes and artists competing in the Gay Games this week in Cologne are about two-dozen Atlantans, including runner Wesley Anderson.

The 32-year-old also plays softball with the Atlanta Venom in the Hotlanta Softball League and recently joined Front Runners Atlanta. We caught up with Anderson before he left for the Gay Games to discuss gay jocks and his plans to take part in the triathlon and half marathon.

Project Q Atlanta: What’s the most challenging part of your sport?

Anderson: The fact that the half marathon is the last day of the Gay Games. That means you have to eat well and not drink during the week of this amazing festival. That may be tough.

Keep reading HERE.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Auf Deutsch / Pride House sollte es bei allen Olympischen Spielen geben

Von Siegessäule.de:

Es ist ja nur ein Detail dieser Olympischen Sommerspiele, aber nicht nur für unsereins ein gewichtiges: Dass es ein Pride House gibt. Ein Haus, das offen ist für alle Gäste - aber gewidmet war und ist allen Sportlern und Sportlerinnen aus der LGBTI-Community. Kurzum: Schwulen und Lesben aus aller Welt. Londons Haus des Stolzes auf "sexual
otherness" ist das erste bei Sommerspielen, das erste überhaupt gab es
vor zwei Jahren in Vancouver zu den Winterspielen. Nun mögen routiniert gesinnte Gemüter sagen: Na klar, ist doch kein Wunder, dass in Kanada und Großbritannien solche Community Center standen und es in der Stadt der diesjährigen Spiele ja noch bis Sonntag Abend geöffnet hat.

Ich finde, dass künftige Städte von Olympischen Spielen ein solches Haus haben müssen. Es ist uns wichtig, es ist überhaupt wichtig für eine gute Welt, in der wir nicht unsichtbar sein oder bleiben wollen, es ist wichtig, wenn man so will, für die seelische Gesundheit der allermeisten Menschen: Die Differenz nicht nur zu tolerieren, sondern aktiv zu fördern. Ja, mehr noch: Ich finde, dass - am Beispiel des Pride Houses - nur noch Städte Olympische Spiele ausrichten dürfen, die sich bereits in der Bewerbung verpflichten, auch ein guter Ort für LGBTI zu sein.

Weiter lesen

CDG Brasil at LGBT business fair

Erico Santos of CDG Braseil reports on their experience at the LGBT business fair in Sao Paulo. He says that they made great contacts for support from the business community, particularly for events planned like their GGX bid and the second edition of the their National Diversity Games which will be hosted in Sao Paulo in 2013.

FGG at protest against homophobic ban on Pride House at 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Carl Schulz representing the FGG, center
Russia urged: Drop Winter Olympics gay ban
Protesters picket Sochi 2014 exhibition in London
LGBT Pride House banned at Sochi Winter Olympics 2014

London - 9 August 2012

“Russia must drop its ban on a LGBT Pride House at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The IOC should enforce the Olympic Charter and compel Russia to allow a Pride House for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes.”

This appeal comes from protesters who picketed the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Exhibition in Kensington Gardens, London, today, Thursday 9 August.

“London 2012 has a LGBT Pride House but Russia won’t allow one at Sochi. This ban is part of a wider crackdown on LGBT communities and visibility in Russia. It is an attack on freedom of expression and association, and coincides with new laws in several parts of Russia that ban so-called homosexual propaganda,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation and coordinator of Thursday’s protest.

“We have written to the IOC, urging them to intervene. Russia’s gay ban is contrary to the equality and non-discrimination provisions of the Olympic Charter. The IOC is duty-bound to require Russia to permit a LGBT Pride House,” he said.

Other participants in the protest echoed Mr Tatchell’s concerns.

Rakshita Patel, from the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:

“It is really important for LGBT athletes to have a safe, welcoming space - with their friends and family - especially in countries like Russia where the atmosphere is currently very homophobic.”

Megan Worthing-Davies of Pride Sports (UK), said:

“The laws being used to forbid Pride House in Sochi are immoral, unfair and archaic. We call on Russia to repeal this ban.”

Carl Shultz, from the Federation of Gay Games, concluded:

“Pride House reflects the equality principles of the Gay Games and the Olympic Charter. The Russian judicial authorities that rendered the Sochi ban contradict the modern trend to equality and the Olympic ideal.”

Thursday's protest was supported by:

Pride Sports (UK)
The European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation
The Federation of Gay Games
The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association
Peter Tatchell Foundation

Monday, August 13, 2012

Federation of Gay Games signs UK Charter for Action on Homophobia in Sport

At Pride House 2012 Carl Schultz, on behalf of the Federation of Gay Games, signed the United Kingdom government Charter for Action on Tackling Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport (photo Mark Delacour).

For more information on the Charter, visit its webpage from the Home Office.

Esera Tuaolo at NAGAAA conference

WHEN Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 6 – 7pm
WHERE Crowne Plaza Hotel
3 Appletree Square
Bloomington, MN

Some of the nation’s leading experts on LGBT sports will join NAGAAA representatives in an exciting conversation about the future of LGBT athletics. Topics will include the continuing problem of homophobia and transphobia in amateur and professional sports, the experience of NAGAAA and other LGBT leagues in creating community-focused spaces for competition, and the best ways to create fun, welcoming, and inclusive LGBT leagues that invite participation from all parts of the community. Key points of discussion will include ways to maintain a sense of community within LGBT leagues while recognizing that the LGBT community includes a diverse array of experiences that players bring to the field. Please join us for what should be a fascinating discussion about the Gay Softball World Series, the LGBT community, and sports.

Sydney Morning Herald interview with Gay Games Ji Wallace on his HIV status

They Sydney Morning Herald speaks with Ji Wallace about his HIV status HERE.

THE Olympic silver medallist Ji Wallace says finding out he was HIV positive was like "a bomb going off" in his head.

Wallace, the only Australian to have won a medal in gymnastics (silver on the trampoline in Sydney), said he walked around for weeks in a haze of shock and disbelief after learning a year ago he had contracted the virus from his partner at the time.

But Wallace says he has never looked back since that difficult couple of months he spent alone in Canada grappling with his new reality. Which is why he went public this week, inspired by an interview with Greg Louganis, the four-time Olympic diving gold medallist who revealed he was gay and HIV positive in an autobiography in 1995.

"I was in London at the Games and watched Piers Morgan interviewing [Louganis] and it was just such a normal interview and so positive," Wallace said in Sydney after flying home from his role as an ambassador for the Federation of Gay Games.

"I felt like he had come a long way because when Greg came out it was a shock-horror story, quite negative, and it was really nice for him to sit there openly [this week] and talk about it. That night I had trouble sleeping so I wrote to Piers Morgan and said, 'Thanks for treating him well ... it's a big issue and it always will be but you didn't sensationalise anything.' I wanted to say thanks and that I too was an Olympian living with HIV."

The letter, which Wallace also sent to the Sydney Star Observer, a weekly newspaper for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, went viral on the internet and resulted in "literally thousands" of messages of support and gratitude for Wallace.

Read more about Ji Wallace and his HIV status HERE.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Fearless" Kickstarter campaign

We were very pleased and honored to have Jeff Sheng present "Fearless" at the request of the FGG at Pride House in London. He's now aiming to make "Fearless" a book, via a Kickstarter campaign.

Update 8/3/12: The above 10-minute video is being exhibited at Pride House 2012 at the London Olympic Games, Aug 3-12. It is the first time that I have edited "Fearless" into a video slideshow with a voiceover of myself talking about this project, with over 100 photographs in the project so far. I decided to post it online here for those of you who are not able to make it to London. Please enjoy!

Since 2003, I (Jeff Sheng) have been photographing athletes on high school and college sports teams who also happen to self identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ), and are "out" to their predominantly straight teammates, coaches and classmates. Even though I am by training an artist and photographer, this project is highly personal for me -- as I was a former closeted athlete in high school and could not be "out" and play collegiate sports at the same time. As such, I titled the project "Fearless" as it was a reminder to myself and to others the true meaning behind the bravery of what these young people are able to do: be themselves in the face of homophobia in competitive sports -- something rarely ever seen at the professional level.

At first it was very difficult to find willing athletes for the project, but I relied heavily on trust, word of mouth, and social networking to find more and more participants. In the last 9 years, I have been able to photograph over 150 athletes across the United States and Canada for this series. Next year, 2013, will be the 10th year working on this project, and I have decided to commemorate this milestone with a self-published large photography book that details the lives and journey "Fearless" has entailed, including all of the photo shoots from the series. My hope is that this book can serve as further inspiration to countless young people who happen to be LGBTQ and suffer from bullying or harassment and live in fear about being who they are.

My fundraising target of $50,000 will make it possible for me to reach a goal of photographing over 200 athletes and to complete the final self-published book. The entire photo series is shot on medium format film and the travel costs are very high as I often have to fly to many of the athletes who ask to be photographed. Almost everything so far been mostly funded out of my own pocket or through loans/credit cards, and the lack of funding has been a major limitation to the series so far. Many athletes still contact me to be photographed and I sometimes need to limit my photo shoots, as I have never asked these participants for money to cover the costs of their photo shoots, but still need to find ways to cover the costs on my end. This fundraising goal will also make it possible to successfully publish the first run of the photo book next year.

My hope, is that with your help, I can make the decade-long vision I have had for my "Fearless" project -- finally become a reality. Every tiny bit counts, so please consider pledging something now.

Hyde Football Club commit to continuing mission to tackle homophobia in football

From "Just a Ball Game?":

Shortly after being crowned Blue Square North Champions and gaining promotion to the Blue Square Premiership for the first time in the clubs history, Hyde FC also had further recognition in becoming the first football team (in the world) to receive a copy of the new Show Racism the Red Card DVD and education pack which looks at challenging Homophobia within the game.

Founding Director of ‘JUST A BALL GAME?’ (a campaign group which challenges issues with homophobia and anti-gay prejudice and helps raise awareness around the inclusion of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender people,) Lindsay England presented the club Secretary Andy McAnulty and former Chairman Allan Kenyon with the resource as one of the delivery partners for the ‘Homophobia let’s Tackle it!’ which SRtRC have produced in collaboration with a number of LGBT organisations and also celebrities including former England rugby player ben Cohen, Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson and Scottish comedian Rhona Cameron.

Hyde FC have also pledged to make tannoy announcements before kick -off at home matches and change their ground rules and regulations to incorporate alongside Racism,” Homophobic abuse, chanting or harassment is strictly forbidden and will result in arrest and/or ejection from the ground.”

Mr McAnulty added ‘’It’s fantastic for Hyde FC to be involved in such a campaign and we hope this will encourage other clubs throughout the whole of the UK to join in and help eradicate homophobia and anti-gay issues from the game.’

Diving tears and diving smiles

We're more than a little sad that our friend Gay Games Ambassador Matthew Mitcham won't be taking home another Olympic medal. He did great work and gave it his all, living up to ouIr motto of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best, and to the motto "Once an Olympian, always an Olympian".

We know Matthew will continue to do great things and be a force for joy and progress in the world, and we are proud to have him by our side as we work toward equality in and through sport.

We take some consolation that the Chinese sweep was prevented by bronze medal winner Tom Daley and by gold medal winner David Boudia. We are pleased that the work of Gay Games Ambassador Greg Louganis has a claim to some of that success, having served as mentor to the US diving team in London.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why sports matter for LGBTs

From a comment piece by Carl Sandler in Huffington Post:

Why Sports Matter
Gay men need other avenues for building friendships that are not based (at least initially) on sexual compatibility and mutual attraction. So many gay men limit ourselves to building friends through online dating websites and apps, or in environments built around sex, dating, and drinking. Gay sports leagues provide the opportunity to meet other gay guys in the real world, and to build friendships and meaningful relationships over time based on shared real-world experiences. And yes, many of the guys are smoking hot.

The most amazing thing I've observed is the way sports leagues can enrich the lives of LGBTQ people. We've been so damaged by the world of sports that we often come to a gay sports league filled with trepidation and self-doubt. Gay sports leagues like Gotham celebrate difference rather than repressing or judging it. In gay leagues you will find not only competitive, professional athletes who look just like athletes in "straight" leagues but also fabulous ladyboys in short skirts who can finish a mean serve with a high kick. "Fierce" is a word often present on the court. Team names usually include some sort of sexual double entendre or campy humor. "I'd Hit That," "When Harry Set Sally," and "Destiny's Hookers" are some recent team names. In other words, gay leagues combine competitive sports and fabulousness in a way that is nothing short of inspiring.

So although out gays and lesbians in the Olympics may be few, gay sports leagues and tournaments are flourishing, giving gay men and women the opportunity to know the joys of team sports on their own terms. There are dating websites like RealJock.com and content sites like Outsports.com dedicated to the thousands of gay men who play sports. And don't forget the Gay Games, which this year celebrates 32 years since its founding. All of these are a wonderful testament to the amazing power of gay athletes everywhere.

Before the 2012 Olympic Games end, I hope a few more athletes will follow the lead of South African archer Karen Hultzer and come out. And maybe when the next Olympic Games roll around, I'll turn on the TV and see a posse of athletes competing to become the next big gay star, hugging their boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, or wives after winning medals. Maybe by then we'll even see some straight athletes wave to knuckle-biting gay parents in the stands. We will make fun of their trashy mix of patriotic fashion and rainbow rings. We will smile and laugh. And we will all be the better for it.

Huffington Post profile of Greg Louganis

A great profile of Gay Games Ambassador Greg Louganis in the UK version of Huffington Post:

They say you should never meet your hero. He'll always let you down. Well, I have, and he didn't.

The 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul was memorable for two things - Ben Johnson's red-eyed corruption of the 100-metre sprint, and double Olympic gold medallist diving champion Greg Louganis hitting his head on the board.

"My first feeling was one of embarrassment" - says Greg Louganis of his 1988 encounter with the board

Louganis was the golden boy of the diving pool, with two golds to his name from the previous Games in LA. He was expected to become the first man in history to defend both his springboard and platform titles.

So how did it feel when it all went so wrong during the springboard preliminaries, and he went splat in front of all those people?

"My first feeling was one of intense embarrassment," he remembers, 24 years later. Then that trickled into anxiety. But I have to admit, there was also a feeling of relief, because I was under so much pressure to do well, and suddenly everyone stopped expecting anything. It freed me up."

Keep reading about Greg Louganis

Dan Woog writes on how Hudson Taylor became an Athlete Ally

From Dan Woog in Seattle Gay News:

Hudson Taylor is not Gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But three years ago, when the University of Maryland wrestler put a Human Rights Campaign sticker on his headgear, some people wondered about his sexuality.

Taylor didn't care. He was more concerned about sending a strong show of support to the Gay community. For him, the medium - sports - was an appropriate means for an important message.

Taylor admits he had 'zero exposure' to Gay people growing up. 'I started wrestling when I was 6,' he recalls. 'All my friends were other wrestlers. I didn't think the LGBT world pertained to me.'

But in middle school he sang in a choir. At Blair Academy in New Jersey he performed in musicals and plays. 'No one was out when I was there, but homophobic comments of my friends - and me - always got corrected,' he says. He lived in two worlds - 'jock and thespian' - and his horizons broadened.

The HRC sticker was his first act of public advocacy. It attracted plenty of attention, and in February of his senior year the Outsports website interviewed him. To Taylor's surprise, 2,000 e-mails poured in. Many came from closeted young athletes. 'It was jaw-dropping,' Taylor says. 'About half of them made me cry.' For the first time, he realized the power of allies to make a difference.

Read more about Hudson Taylor and Athlete Ally

Matthew Mitcham a model for an athlete coming out

From Jim Buzinski's look at Matthew Mitcham's coming out and how things have changed since 2008:

Four years later, things are a different, but in a positive way. In London, it's Mitcham diving and not his sexual orientation that is the focus. He has built a template for how someone should come out.

In reading coverage of Mitcham in the lead-up to competing Friday in London, I was struck by how his sexuality is often not mentioned - he is Matthew Mitcham, diver, not Matthew Mitcham, gay diver. That's progress.

It's not as if Mitcham tries to hide who he is. He is a spokesman for gay marriage in Australia, posing for an "I Do" campaign in a magazine. He was the grand marshal of Sydney's famous gay Mardi Gras parade. In 2010, he was named a Gay Games ambassador and did more than just lend his name. He came to Cologne, Germany, and participated in the Opening Ceremonies and hung out with other athletes; he was utterly charming and everyone wanted their picture taken with him and he happily obliged.

Read in full


Our friend and Gay Games Ambassador Matthew Mitcham is diving in the Olympic 10m platform semifinals.

On behalf of the Gay Games family we wish  him luck and assure him our friendship and support. However you dive, you're a great guy!

Pride House a necessity for all Olympics, not just Sochi

From Bruce Arthur in the National Post:

LONDON — In 2010, the Vancouver Olympics featured the first Pride House, and a speed skater from New Zealand named Blake Skjellerup dropped by one day. When he publicly came out as a gay man later that year, he cited a couple things in his decision: Seeing how comfortable out Australian diver Matthew Mitcham was in 2008 in Beijing, and that small, welcoming space at the intersection of Davie and Bute.

The Pride House in London is a part-time affair, moving around and hosting various events, and occasionally renting two rooms in a little brick building next to a marina in East London. It is a minnow in the Olympic ocean, but an important one. And in 2014, it will not exist.

“It’s like a flag in the sand,” said Louise Englefield, who is running Pride House here, and who founded the equality-based group Pride Sports. “It’s a visible place that allows LGBT people to have a place in the Olympic movement, that we really have a place in the Games. And since there are only 23 out athletes at these Games …”

There will be no Pride House in 2014 in Sochi, due to a ruling from a Russian judge outlawing the promotion of homosexuality. Pride House here was given support, if not outright approval, by the London organizing committee; the International Olympic Committee, however, has refused to take a stance on the matter. It banned South Africa from the Games from 1964 to 1991 over apartheid, but it won’t weigh in on this.

“We aren’t responsible for the running of or setting up of Houses,” says IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “That is done by the [National Olympic Committees] or other relevant organizations. So in this case it isn’t a decision of either us, or the organizing committee in Sochi. From our side, the IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the Games.”

“That’s a lie,” says ex-NBA player John Amaechi, who is doing commentary for the BBC here, and who is out. “They have no backbone. Look, [South Africa] was perhaps the only notable, noble thing that the IOC has ever done. It’s the only outspoken, outstanding, political move that made them, for just a brief moment, worth their existence. The idea that they have differentiated between race and other things is truly, truly worthy. Because what’s the explanation? Being racist is important. They’re explicitly saying that being racist is important, we won’t allow it, but being homophobic is okay.

“There’s already a lie. I would say implicit, but it’s not, it’s a very explicit lie within sports, and within the Olympics especially. Because most sports have rhetoric about fairness and equality and that type of stuff, but really only the Olympics … have at their core a set of five principles, one of which is that sports is a human right. Which means everybody, and it’s a very eloquent way of saying sports is for everybody.

“And so you’re in this situation — it’s not simply that the Pride House isn’t happening [in Sochi] because there’s no funding, or because there’s no interest. It’s explicitly not allowed. So by doing that you have already said sport is not for everybody. Explicitly, there are people who are not allowed to do sport, and if they are allowed to do sport, they must do it in a way that suits us.”

Outsports.com counts 23 openly gay and lesbian athletes at these Olympics, compared with 10 in Beijing and 11 in Athens, but just three men: two in dressage, including gold medallist Carl Hester, and Mitcham. Among the women, Megan Rapinoe won gold in women’s soccer after coming out just before the Games; German cyclist Judith Arndt won silver in the cycling road race.

But that is 23 publicly LGBT athletes out of nearly 11,000, one of whom, South African archer Karen Kultzer, came out to Outsports during the Games. “I am an archer, middle aged and a lesbian,” she said in a statement. “I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee. None of these aspects define who I am.”

Amaechi says there are seven out male athletes at the Games before being corrected; he demurs, wondering how many are publicly out. But he says, “Oh, there’s a lot more than that.”

“There are plenty of athletes [at basketball], a number of them on the women’s team, and a number on the men’s teams, who have had a word with me privately,” says Amaechi. “There’s not one of the men who would meet me in a public place. Because they know there’s a danger there for them when they come back. What if you play for the Utah Jazz, and have a set of owners who are absurd? What if you play for the Orlando Magic, whose owners donate to [the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage], an organization that shouldn’t exist? What if you play in Russia? What if you play in China? Things aren’t as easy as we think for all these people.

“In most locker rooms in the NBA right now there are guys who are out, who bring their quote-unquote manager to every game. Some of them even have somebody who is their partner and people know about it, and come to the Christmas party. And it’s within the locker-room, and there’s no issue. They don’t talk to the media about it, nobody does, but it’s known within the locker-room, and it’s no big deal. Most of the guys have the Charles Barkley [attitude], which is, can you play?”

But they are not comfortable enough to be themselves in the public sphere. Athletes who have come out have often said they performed better afterwards — Rapinoe told reporters before the gold-medal game, “I’ve been playing a lot better than I’ve ever played before,” and that coming out was “a weight off my shoulders.”

But it’s not just the more gay-friendly countries of the world who could, or would, host this travelling carnival. The IOC wasn’t too worried about human rights in China, either. Englefield says the plan is to ask every national house to stage a Pride House for a day in Sochi, since trying to establish an independent one would invite prosecution. It’s a laudable goal; as Canadian chef de mission Mark Tewksbury says, “the big challenge is Sochi. That’s where it’s really needed.”

“I think the most important thing,” says Englefield, “is what are the IOC going to do now?”

National Post

Friday, August 10, 2012

TIME on Olympic homophobia

A great article from TIME, with interviews with Gay Games Ambassador Blake Skjellerup, Karen Hultzer, and Pride House's Lou Englefield

On Aug. 6, during the most dogged soccer match at the London Olympics, Megan Rapinoe blasted two shots past the Canadian goalie to help Team USA secure a spot in Thursday’s final. Even more impressive, however, may have been Rapinoe’s resolve when she came out as a lesbian just weeks before the Olympics. “I feel like sports in general are still homophobic,” she said in an interview with Out.com on July 5. “People want—they need—to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”

In the high-profile world of Olympic competition, Rapinoe is among a small, but growing number of gay athletes who have publicly acknowledged their sexual orientation. According to Outsports, a media watchdog and sports news site, of the 14,690 athletes participating in the Olympic and Paralympic Games this year, only 23 are openly gay. That’s around 0.16%. Even so, it’s a big improvement from the 2004 Games in Athens, which counted just 11 out athletes. In Beijing in 2008 there were only 10.

Their reasons for keeping a low profile vary, but closeted Olympians share one thing in common: they have trained their entire lives to represent their countries at the Games. Coming out, they fear, could cause sponsors to pull out of deals, and negative stereotypes may leave coaches and teammates questioning their abilities. “The most important thing to every athlete is their position and standing,” says Blake Skjellerup, a gay speed-skater who represented New Zealand at the 2010 Winter Olympics. “They wouldn’t want anything as trivial as their sexuality to jeopardize that.”

The organizers behind Pride House—”a welcoming space for all athletes, staff, spectators and friends”—hope to show that being gay and being competitive aren’t incompatible. To that end they’ve organized informal gatherings, like a recent 5K run, are staging an exhibition on gay athletes, and provide a space for athletes and non-athletes alike to watch the Olympics. “We’re putting a little flag in the sand and saying that within this environment, which isn’t inclusive and welcoming, we are an inclusive and welcoming space,” says Louise Englefield, the founding director of Pride Sports, an LGBT sports development and equality organization. “If that means that people realize there is an alternative then great.”

The inaugural Pride House at the Vancouver Games played a big role in Skjellerup coming out. Although he had told his family ahead of the Olympics, he had not contemplated coming out publicly. He sat at a Starbucks opposite the house before deciding to step inside. After strolling through a photo exhibition of gay athletes—think of Olympic gold medalists like Greg Louganis and Matt Mitcham—he soon found himself telling staff members his secret. “It was quite a big thing coming out to strangers,” he says. “I felt really good with myself after doing that.”

Coming out seems more daunting for male athletes. Of the 23 out Olympians this year, only four are men. “Constructions of masculinity within sport are incredibly rigid,” says Englefield, adding that the “macho environment” entrenches homophobia. It’s a different story for gay women. “Lesbians who maybe don’t conform to heterosexual stereotypes of femininity can just get on with it and be themselves.”

No gay athlete—closeted or not—wants to hear homophobic slurs bandied about in the locker room. And yet fighting against more than just your opponent may partly explain the success of openly gay sportsmen and women at the Olympics. “When you’re closeted, it’s quite hard on you mentally,” says Skjellerup. “But there is a lot of mental toughness that comes with being an athlete. For me homophobic comments actually spear me on and encourage me more.”

He may not be alone. Outsports has identified 104 out athletes who have participated in Summer Games. More than half of them have won Olympic medals. Gay men and lesbians seem poised for similar success in London. Equestrian Carl Hester became the first out athlete to win gold in this Olympics as part of British dressage team. Other notables include German Judith Arndt, who bagged a silver in cycling, and American Lisa Raymond, who walked off the tennis court with a bronze. Other likely medalists include Seimone Augustus, a star of the U.S. women’s basketball team, Rapinoe, of the U.S. soccer squad, and four members of Holland’s field hockey team.

Read more: HERE

10 August 2012 / CDG Brasil at national LGBT business fair

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Where are the out Olympians?

From Jill Lawless, Associated Press:

LONDON – It has been a great games for gay Olympians — probably.

British equestrian Carl Hester won gold in team dressage in London. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe has scored three goals for the U.S. women’s soccer team and several other lesbian players are part of the Dutch field hockey team heading into Friday’s final.

But it’s likely there have been more triumphs by gay and lesbian competitors that the world doesn’t know about.

There are more than 10,000 athletes competing at the London games, but when the gay website OutSports.com set out to count how many were openly gay, it came up with 23.

“It’s an absurdly low number,” said site co-founder Jim Buzinski. He said that compared to the arts, politics or business worlds, “sports is still the final closet in society.”

Estimates of the percentage of gay people in any given population vary widely. In a 2010 survey by Britain’s Office for National Statistics, 1.5 per cent of respondents identified themselves as gay or bisexual, although many consider that an underestimate.

Only a handful of Olympic competitors have publicly identified themselves as gay, including Hester, Rapinoe, U.S. basketball player Seimone Augustus, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham and South African archer Karen Hultzer, who came out to the media during the games.

“I am an archer, middle-aged and a lesbian,” the 46-year-old athlete told OutSports — but said she looked forward to the day when her sexuality was not an issues. I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee,” she said. “None of these aspects define who I am, they are simply part of me.”

Gay sports groups say the London games organizers have been welcoming, including gay, lesbian and transgender volunteers among its staff and sanctioning an official games rainbow pin.

The London Pride House, a gay hospitality venue, had official approval from games organizers. London organizing chief executive Paul Deighton said the site helped show Britain as an inclusive place “which welcomes the world’s diverse communities and creates a safe sporting environment for LGBT athletes.”

But activists fear the next host city — Sochi in southern Russia — will be far less gay-friendly. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains strong. Protests by gay rights activists regularly end in mass arrests.

British rights activist Peter Tatchell and a handful of supporters rallied Thursday outside Russia’s Sochi Park pavilion in London to protest Russian authorities’ refusal to allow a pride house at the 2014 Winter Games — a decision that was backed up by a Russian court.

“Quite clearly, this ban is in violation of the Olympic charter, which prohibits discrimination and guarantees equality,” Tatchell said. He said the International Olympic Committee “doesn’t appear to want to engage with this issue.”

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said the IOC would not comment “on private court cases,” but added that “the IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the games.”

Marc Naimark of the Federation of Gay Games said the IOC should pressure countries to repeal anti-gay laws the way it once excluded South Africa for its racial apartheid policy and, more recently, succeeded in getting all competing nations to include female athletes on their teams in London.

“The lack of ‘out’ athletes in the Olympics is a symptom,” Naimark said. “It’s not the problem.”

There is a particular dearth of openly gay male Olympians — there are only three men on that London list of 23. The most high-profile is Mitcham, whose Twitter biography calls him “that gay, 2008-Olympic-gold-medal-winning diver dude.” He’ll be defending his 10-meter springboard title at the games this weekend.

Rapinoe, who came out earlier this year, said it was more difficult for male athletes than for women to be open about their sexuality.

“I think there’s a lot of gay women in sports, and it’s widely known in the team, they can live a pretty open lifestyle without being open in the media,” she said. “But I think for men unfortunately it’s not the same climate in the locker room.”

There’s also the fear of losing lucrative commercial endorsements. Sponsors would never admit that they would drop an athlete who came out as gay, but few competitors would want to risk it.

Much was made of the fact that former NBA player John Amaechi signed an endorsement deal with razor company HeadBlade after he came out in 2007. But HeadBlade is small potatoes compared to Adidas or other huge sports sponsors.

Times may be changing, however. Adidas spokeswoman Katja Schreiber said the company would stand by an athlete who chose to come out of the closet.

Buzinski thinks the environment for gay athletes is improving. He points to the growing number of athletes, gay and straight, who are prepared to speak out against homophobia.

Many athletes who come out say it has been a positive experience — and even performance-enhancing. Rapinoe scored two goals in the U.S. team’s semifinal win over Canada.

“I guess it seems like a weight off my shoulders,” she said on the eve of Thursday’s gold medal match against Japan. “I’ve been playing a lot better than I’ve ever played before. I think I’m just enjoying myself and I’m happy.”


Associated Press Writers Joseph White and Raissa Ioussouf contributed to this report. Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

More on men's synchronized swimming

In Grantland, Michael Bertin looks at the issue of men's synchronized swimming, including the FGG/London/Paris letter to IOC and FINA:

It was a joke: Martin Short and Harry Shearer were two male synchronized swimmers who had given up everything in their quest for Olympic gold.

It was made all the more ridiculous by the fact that (a) Martin Short couldn't swim and (b) there was no men's event even in the Olympics. And the premise for this Saturday Night Live sketch was so well executed that, almost 30 years later, few people have even bothered to revisit the subject.

But 30 years later men's synchronized swimming is also no longer a joke, which is to say there are men who do it, and they take it seriously. Honest. And, in a bizarre instance of art imitating future life, they want to go to the Olympics.

In June of this year, Paris Aquatique, the London-based club Out to Swim, and the Federation of Gay Games sent a jointly signed letter to ICO President Jacques Rogge and FINA President Julio Maglione appealing for inclusion of men in synchronized swimming at the Olympics. And they are completely not kidding.

From the letter: "[It's] a sport with a long history of men's participation, and which is growing in number and quality of participants. Despite the goals announced by British Olympic authorities to make the 2012 Summer Olympics a place for true equality, men will remain excluded from this discipline in London."

"Growing" is a relative term, and, admittedly, the talent pool isn't that deep. Stephen Adshead, who manages the men's synchro team at OTS, says there are "about 20" men in the U.K. practicing at the club, with "more in France." Moreover, it might seem a little disingenuous for OTS to argue on history, as the club has only been doing synchro since 2010, but when it comes to competing they aren't kidding around. They've got a former Soviet-bloc synchronized swimmer for their coach and have picked up gold medals at the last two EuroGames as well as gold at the last Gay Games.

And the sport's male reach is reasonably international, with competing teams in Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Sweden. There is actually a pretty great documentary called Men Who Swim about that very cadre of men in Stockholm who have taken up synchro (highlighted by a scene in which their female coach calls them "pussies" for opting to perform in wetsuits).

Read more about male synchronized swimming on Grantland

Countdown: two years to Gay Games 9!


Patricia Neil Warren explains that out Team USA football coach Pia Sundhage deserves more attention.

Writing in Outsports/SB Nation, Patricia Neil Warren explains that out Team USA football coach Pia Sundhage deserves more attention.

Aug 7, 2012 - USA 4, Canada 3. What a match! In the victory tumult that erupted after that last-second winning goal of the women's soccer semifinal, the beaming weathered face and silver-haired bob of USA head coach Pia Sundhage was poignantly visible on the little screen, as she made the rounds of her team, making sure each of the women knew how thrilled and satisfied she was.

For us LGBT people, it's an important moment to remember that the out coaches are as important as the out athletes.

So often the out coaches get listed as an afterthought, after the growing list of out LGBT athletes. And admittedly there are still not many out coaches around the world. Yet we have to recognize the undeniable influence that a good coach has over individual athletes and whole teams. Win or lose, the coach's input is always a turning point. They deserve more credit for what they achieve, not only on the playing field, but off it -- in terms of the growing acceptance of LGBT presence in sports.

Read the full article about out football coach Pia Sundhage.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Are out athletes just better? The medal count says yes

Outsports looks at the performance so far of out athletes at the Olympics:

Aug 6, 2012 - We at Outsports have identified104 openly gay and lesbian Summer Olympians over the years. Some of them were out while competing, others came out after their Games. An astonishing 53 of them -- over 50 percent -- have won a medal. That's an incredible percentage and far exceeds the average of all athletes who have taken home Olympic hardware.

This year, we may be on pace for a similar performance. There are 23 publicly out Olympians we know of in London, though the number keeps growing. Already, two out athletes -- German cyclist Judith Arndt (silver) and American tennis player Lisa Raymond (bronze) -- have won medals. And while a number of out Olympians have been eliminated from competition, many others are positioned for a medal.

Pink Sixty News interviews Karen Hultzer

In conversation with Karen Hultzer at Pride House London 2012
South African Olympic archer Karen Hultzer in an informal conversation at Pride House London 2012, with Team GB's sitting vollyball team captain Claire Harvey and Pinksixty's Colin Fallesen.