Bright and early in the morning I find myself analyzing all those men lifting at the gym. Late at night, I happen to see the same set of men, continuing to lift weights. Have men become so vain and narcissistic that they must spend hours perfecting their bodies? However, I still hear phrases like, “that guy throws like a girl.” It has been instated by our society that it is not only bad to “throw like a girl,” but guys who can’t play sports are, to quote my least favorite governor, “girlie men.”
Fed up with obeying societal constructs, I did some research about gay athletes. Without any problems, I came across a federation that continues to break away from the misconception that gays can’t play sports. Dr. Tom Waddel, a 1968 Olympic decathlete, founded the Gay Games, a sporting event based on the values that “doing one’s personal best should be the paramount goal in any athletic endeavor.” The Federation of Gay Games makes certain that “the Gay Games offers participants the opportunity to express themselves openly and to experience camaraderie and validation through sport and culture.”
The principle behind the Gay Games is to promote and enhance the self-confidence of lesbians and gay men throughout the world. Just like the Olympics, this organization holds its sporting events every four years. In years past, they have been held in San Francisco, Vancouver, New York City, Amsterdam and Sydney.
Possibly one of the target reasons as to why the Gay Games were founded was to gain understanding from the heterosexual community. The Federation of Gay Games pride themselves in ensuring that no individual be barred from partaking on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political affiliations, age or health status.
Earlier this year, the Federation chose Chicago as the host city for the Gay Games in 2006. Much like the Summer and Winter Olympics, competition between cities has made it difficult for the city selection committee to assign a host city.
In 2002, a “Gay Games Ambassadors” program started as a way for athletes, artists and other individuals to publicize the Gay Games. The Gay Games Ambassadors include 1984 Olympic gold medal swimmer Bruce Hayes, U.S. Ambassador James Hormel, actress Judith Light and photographer Tom Bianchi.
Founder Tom Waddell passed away right before Gay Games II in the summer of 1987. His legacy was continued and expanded by his widow Sara Waddell. Since then, the Gay Games have lengthened where athletes compete in many rigorous sporting events including soccer, basketball, aquatics and much more.
Many argue that the Gay Games are not needed and do not promote integration within society. Others state, and I agree, that gays are just as physically and mentally fit to participate in the Summer and Winter Olympics, and the Gay Games are just pointless for that reason.
However, just like any federation of people, a common characteristic brings the participants of the Gay Games together. Discrimination and prejudices aren’t experienced within the Gay Games and gay and lesbians feel comfortable in being who they are without having the fear of someone lashing out against them.
Though there is no doubt that watching gays and lesbians in the Olympics is a proud achievement, having a close-knit community and a strong support group is also key. I can’t wait for the next time someone says, “he benches like a fag.” Nothing but pure ecstasy will fill me.
Buitrago can be reached at email@example.com.