"2010 Pride Issue" of The Xaverian, the official student newspaper of St Francis Xavier (StFX) University in Nova Scotia, Canada:
Out of the closet and on to the field
by Jami Parisien
October 12, 2010 2:23 PM
While any student who has participated in sport knows that early morning practices, grueling workouts and time consuming competitions can at times be challenging, many athletes may not have considered the huge barrier that sexual orientation can be to participation in sport.
Unfortunately, for many LGBTQ persons, participating in sport and being open about their sexual orientation are mutually exclusive.
However, since the Gay Games were started in 1982 by Dr. Tom Waddell, the notion of homosexuals being unable to both show athletic promise and be open about their sexuality has changed in many ways.
StFX Human Kinetics professor, Charlene Weaving, talked about how the Gay Games are a momentous challenge of homophobia in sport.
“It provides an opportunity for open homosexuals to participate in sport at an elite level, at a major international competition and not have to face any type of homophobia,” says Weaving.
For over a quarter of a century now, the Gay Games have been changing attitudes toward the LGBTQ community and giving power to thousands of people through the positive effects of sport and competition.
“The Gay Games are not separatist, they are not exclusive, they are not oriented to victory, and they are not for commercial gain,” says Waddell in an article on the Gay Games website.
“They are, however, intended to bring a global community together in friendship, to experience participation, to elevate consciousness and self-esteem, and to achieve a form of cultural and intellectual synergy.... We are involved in the process of altering opinions whose foundations lie in ignorance.”
Waddell wanted to bring homosexual men and women together in an unprecedented effort, and he wanted “to dispel the prevailing attitudes in sport regarding ageism, sexism and racism.”
Professor Weaving confirms Waddell’s clarification of the games.
“I think it’s important to understand the purpose of the Gay Games is not to showcase the top or the absolute best athletes in the world. It is to provide this amazing opportunity where many of the top elite athletes who may happen to be gay, bisexual are closeted at the Olympic level.”
As Waddell and Weaving suggested, the Gay Games are not exclusive. The Gay Games have been created to transform those negative attitudes about the LGBTQ population, which is why anyone can compete in the games.
This past summer, from July 31 to Aug. 7, over 10,000 participants from more than 70 nations gathered in Cologne, Germany for Gay Games VIII.
The motto of the Games this year was be part of it! The invitation was open to everyone, whether heterosexual or homosexual, male, female, transgender or transsexual, and regardless of religion, nationality, ethnic heritage, political convictions, athletic skills, physical capabilities, age or physical condition.
The Gay Games are definitely opening the door for homosexual athletes around the world, hopefully encouraging elite athletes to come out in mainstream sport.
Weaving says that she does believe that the Gay Games encourage elite athletes to come out, “… the problem is if they had any aspirations of moving up higher … there would still be some concern about coming out fully, in case of wanting to peruse a very elite career, because of the lack of sponsorship.”
“It’s just that it is so homophobic at that level, especially in North America. You need that kind of positive media coverage in order to succeed as an athlete”, Weaving adds.
Weaving continues with this train of thought as she adds, “I think the Gay Games are a really good opportunity, but there is just such a fear with the Olympics and being so homophobic that if an athlete was trying to make it to the Olympics, if that was their be all and end all, then I think they would hesitate.”
Setting professional sport and the homophobia within it aside, the Gay Games have no doubt changed the way the world views homosexuality and sport.
After only 28 years in the running, the Games are still in their infancy. As the years pass, the Gay Games will continue to influence people and sport, hopefully bringing an end to the homophobia that surrounds athletic competition.
h/t Kevin Boyer
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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.
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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
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.