The International Olympic Committee has just recently announced that it has added an “Anti-Discrimination” clause to it’s host city contract, all host cities selected by the IOC from now on must maintain full equality for all Olympic participants, athletes, spectators and others during their Olympic events. Having been a little over a month since the 2014 Gay Games flame was extinguished, no doubt the “recovery” as it were and reintegration back into regular life takes a little time to wind down from such an amazing experience. I look at my medals, videos, pictures, memories and accomplishments from the week and it still brings a smile to myself.
The Gay Games, like Gay Pride events around the world were founded on a call for activism, to help spread awareness and to fight for LGBT rights and equality. It has also played an active role in combating HIV/AIDS as well as becoming a safe place where HIV+ athletes could participate safely and overall for LGBT people to participate in sport openly without the fears and stigmas that athletes continue to face today. The first Gay Games were organized and held in 1982 in San Francisco and again every 4 years ever since. In that time the movement has grown, doubling the attendance of the previous game every year up to 1998 and growing truly international today.
Each games represents something different, for the community it’s held in as well as it’s purpose in bring the world together to openly participate in sport and culture. With the continuing trend toward equality and acceptance in many nations around the world, there continue to be places where homosexuality is punishable by law, with sentences as extreme as execution itself. My experience at both the 2010 and 2014 Gay Games put this in perspective for me, in meeting athletes from all over the world, including Iran, Israel, Russia and various African nations. What this event truly means to those athletes who otherwise can’t even be open to their closest family and friends, the opportunity to go somewhere, even for a week and be able to openly celebrate who they are is truly remarkable
We have made significant progress toward being able to treat, prevent and even cure HIV/AIDS, the disease doesn’t have the same impact on our generation now as it did previous. Many of the causes and activist movements like the Gay Games were founded upon seem to be less of a fight, less of a true movement. How can events like the Gay Games evolve and continue to stay relevant in our world, not just in LGBT Sport but the overall sports community. The impact of the Gay Games has grown with hundreds of local, national and international LGBT sporting events that occur every year and yet as the attendance and interest for Gay Games seems to be less. For the LGBT community, the causes and struggles that kept us together as one community are seemingly less.
Our community is splitting and become more divided and in order to keep a large, international multi-sport event, one built on participation and inclusion relevant in today’s generation and evolving community, we must focus bring people together. The Gay Games must represent more something more than just partying. It is a sporting event at heart but for Gay Games to thrive we all must take what the Gay Games have built up and move forward on the next level. To bring people together and continue to remind the world that we are one community and we are not just about sex, partying, alcohol and such. Our community and society in general is so built up on aesthetics, how one looks is constantly deemed more important then what one can do and is capable of. The Gay Games offer a unique opportunity to change that; it gives people purpose, motivation and something to be excited about. People who’ve never felt competitive or athletic but enjoy sports, arts, and culture can participate.