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

Official Anthem

Take the Flame (3’17”)
By Henry Krieger
Bill Russell, Lyricist

First Performed at Gay Games IV, Unity ‘94, at Wien Stadium, Columbia University and Yankee Stadium, New York City, USA, June, 1994.

With Vocals by Lillias White


Take the Flame
I was lost in dark confusion
And thought I’d have to stay
You had to fight
For your own bit of light
But you held it high to light my way

Now, thanks to you, my friend
I can see this tunnel’s end
And I’ll repeat ‘til my dying day
What you’re no longer here to say

Take the flame and pass it on
Spread your light and share the dawn
Grab your chance before it’s gone
Take the flame and pass it on

You lit up the night with a bold design
You set us ablaze and allowed us to shine
Your love left a spark to build upon
Take the flame and pass it on

Our light will shine
No matter who
Tries to extinguish the flame
This light of mine
Will burn for you
So the world will remember your name
It’s a whole new game
We’ll stake our claim
The past is over and gone
Let’s take the flame
And pass it on

Take the flame and pass it on
Spread the light and share the dawn
Grab this chance before it’s gone
Take the flame and pass it on.

Archival Score and Arrangements available through Federation of Gay Games (also on CD).