Thursday, August 7, 2014

Do we really need the "Gay Games?"

Gay Games 9
Gay Games 9 takes place from August 9 to 16, 2014 in Cleveland and Akron Ohio. It is a big-money production with diverse corporate sponsors plus many prominent LGBT organizations like the Human Rights Campaign.

The games are expected to attract close to 10,000 participants and another 20,000 guests and spectators. I am sure that it is great for the local economy. State and local chapters of the Chamber of Commerce are probably big supporters. While a great deal of money flows through the games, no one at the Federation of Gay Games is getting rich off of the spectacle (the Federation has no paid staff).

According to the Federation:
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 [San Francisco] in 1982.
More than three decades later we are still marginalized but we have witnessed considerable improvement. It seems fair to question whether the Gay Games only perpetuates the stereotype.

There are other Olympics alternative games. However, those are held because those athletes generally cannot compete on an equal level with Olympians due to a physical or intellectual impairment.

In contrast, we can compete equally with other Olympians and we can do so openly. Do the Gay Games suggest that we are impaired by virtue of being gay? What message does this send to gay children? I don't have all of the answers but the questions seem fair to ask.

Certainly HRC has better uses for their money. I appreciate the fact that companies like Marriott and Eaton Corporation are among platinum sponsors of the Games. I am not naive about the promotional nature of sponsorships but couldn't those dollars be better spent on things like scholarships for example?

Economics aside, I am not at all sure that our image is a beneficiary of the Gay Games. It might be a casualty.

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