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, July 16, 2010

Florida LGBT archives highlight Gay Games history

As LGBT athletes from around the world prepare for Gay Games VIII in Germany at the end of this month, the Stonewall Library & Archives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is honoring the quadrennial event with a special exhibit.

"Playing Around: The Gay Games and Other Sports," which runs through Aug. 31, is the latest in a series of rotating exhibits at the Stonewall, which houses the nation’s largest collection of LGBT-centric materials. Displaying photographs and a myriad of other memorabilia, "Playing Around" honors the Games’ history and the broader impact they have had on the visibility of LGBT athletes in sports worldwide.

Exhibit curator Charles Ross explained local residents donated many of the materials on display after the library called for Gay Games-specific items. And the result: A vast collection of t-shirts, pins, brochures, posters and other artifacts representing each of the seven preceding Games that have taken place since the event’s inception in 1982, from Amsterdam to Sydney and everywhere in between. The donations even included some particularly personal awards on loan.

The first Gay Games took place in San Francisco in 1982 and represented the fruition of 1968 decathlon Olympian Tom Waddell’s long-held dream of a "Gay Olympics"-type event where LGBT athletes could participate in sports in an inclusive and community-driven environment.

That first event, titled the "Gay Games" due to a joint lawsuit from the International and U.S. Olympic Committees, attracted more than 1,300 athletes from 11 countries and upwards of 10,000 spectators to its opening and closing ceremonies. Tina Turner, Rita Mae Brown, Stephanie Mills and other cultural icons took part in the festivities, adding a heightened profile to the action.

The most recent Gay Games, held in Chicago in 2006, continued the event’s sprawling tradition and was the franchise’s largest financial success to date. The event attracted Cyndi Lauper, Margaret Cho, Megan Mullally, Erasure’s Andy Bell and other performers. And more than 12,000 athletes from 60 countries participated.

Many LGBT journalists credit the Games’ success for inspiring a trickle-down effect felt in all levels of the sporting world. They have continually countered stereotypes that LGBT people, particularly gay men, are not interested in sports. The event additionally fostered a climate where college and professional athletes are more able than ever to come out as openly LGBT without fear of repercussions from their teams, sponsors and other athletes.

"The cultural/athletic extravaganza known as Gay Games IV and Cultural Festival that’s enveloping New York this week is without a doubt momentous, ground-breaking and historic," wrote gay journalist Joe Clark of the 1994 Games in his essay "The Glory of the Gay Games." "That’s due not only to its size..., but also to its pivotal role in the emerging mainstream awareness of queer issues in sport."

These broader influences are also touched on in the Stonewall exhibit; as it pays homage to David Kopay, Martina Navratilova, John Amaechi, Sheryl Swoopes and others who have become role models for a younger generation of LGBT athletes looking to compete openly.

Ross notes these and other athletes have made a lasting impact on up-coming LGBT athletes who are increasingly refusing to hit the playing field with one foot firmly left behind them in the closet. Australian Olympic diving champion Matthew Mitcham, New Zealand’s short track speed skating Olympian Blake Skjellerup and Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas are a few recent examples of athletes who have come out while still actively competing.

"Homosexuality is becoming more and more part of the mainstream, but it has been more slowly adapted in sports," Ross said. "Sports are so visible to the public that they represent the last taboo. These athletes who have come out are crucial as role models to younger athletes coming out."

And while progress has been slow - particularly among American "big league" team athletes, Griffin noted a positive outlook for more in the sports world inching out of the closet. And the Gay Games and other events have certainly contributed vitally to that progress.

"It is exciting now because there are so many young advocates speaking out. I think the future is bright because of this," said Griffin. "There are more and more college and high school male and female athletes who are coming out and making a difference one team at a time."

Continue reading HERE.

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