The Gay Games were conceived in 1980 by Dr. Tom Waddell as a "vehicle of change."
For over a quarter century, the Gay Games have built an international legacy of changing cultural, social and political attitudes towards LGBT people across the globe, while at the same time empowering tens of thousands with the transforming benefits of sports competition.
In 1981, gay athletes were a hidden and marginalized community within the greater marginalized and beleaguered LGBT community. Being gay and being an athlete was an either-or proposition: Be a jock or be a queer. All of that changed when the athletes marched into Kezar Stadium in 1982.
"We need to discover more about the process of our sexual liberation and apply it meaningfuIIy to other forms of liberation," Waddell wrote. "The Gay Games are not separatist, they are not exclusive, they are not oriented to victory, and they are not for commercial gain. 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. We have the opportunity to take the initiative on critical issues that affect the quality of life and we can serve in a way that makes all people the beneficiary." Waddell wanted to bring gays and lesbians together in an unprecedented effort, and he wanted "to dispel the prevailing attitudes in sport regarding ageism, sexism and racism."
Thirty years later, perhaps the best measurement of the Gay Games Movement is the legacy of change it has produced.
Prior Gay Games Locations:
- 1982—San Francisco, California, USA
- 1986—San Francisco, California, USA
- 1990—Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada
- 1994—New York City, New York, USA
- 1998—Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- 2002—Sydney, Australia
- 2006—Chicago, Illinois, USA
- 2010—Cologne, Germany
- 2014—Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, USA