On air: Do gay people still need separate events?

rainbow_flag_203x152On your marks. Get set. Gay!

The World Outgames 2009, a celebration of gay sport and cultural diversity, has kicked off in Copenhagen.  The Games’ website says the 9-day event celebrates “the talents and contributions of homosexual, bi-sexual and transgender men and women from every corner of the globe”. And, in true flamboyant style, its 5500 participants were introduced on a ‘catwalk’ .

But some are wondering whether the event’s days may be numbered — and indeed whether even gay pride marches are still needed. And instead of a gay sporting event or a march, would it be more educational to have a gay history month, as this blogger suggests.

In this day and age, with all the advances that have been made with gay rights, is there still a need for a gay sporting event? Do such events help raise awareness of gay issues – or do they reinforce gay stereotypes and unhelpfully set homosexual people apart from the rest of the population? And who should be footing the bill for such events?

That last point about funding was one raised here, when Ron Liddle asked: “Why should local people fund a (gay pride) march by homosexuals telling everybody that they’re glad they are homosexuals?”

Perhaps the fact that three gay men were attacked in Copenhagen during the Games is proof that more needs to be done to protest the rights and safety of gay people. But are separate events the way forward?

96 Responses to “On air: Do gay people still need separate events?”

  1. 1 Konstantin in Germany
    July 28, 2009 at 20:17

    It’s nice to have seperate events to create awareness, it can be fun, too. But in the long run, it shouldn’t be seperate anymore, if we’re all meant to integrate. Competing events will only create barriers in the long run.

  2. 2 steve
    July 28, 2009 at 23:10

    I think the in your face attitude and flamboyancy really hurts the gay cause because it basically validates many of the stereotypes. I honestly don’t see the need for gay games, given gays can participate in the olympics and whatever other competitions. They don’t have straights only gaming events, so if anything, they are the ones being discriminatory given I presume straights cannot compete in the gay games, but gays can compete in all the other events that are open to everyone.

    • 3 Scott [M]
      July 29, 2009 at 18:12

      “I think the in your face attitude and flamboyancy really hurts the gay cause because it basically validates many of the stereotypes.”

      What gay cause? Didn’t realize being gay was a cause.

    • 4 Kurt Johnson
      August 26, 2009 at 19:26

      Actually they do have straight only events. they just don’t call them that. But almost every sports league in existence has had some type of stigma or limitation that discourages gay participation. From elementary schools all the way up through the professional teams. granted some of those limitations are starting to fall away but most are still very much in place. The thing is we don’t call them straight games because in the straight sports world gay either doesn’t exist or its a novelty that often stigmatizes players to such an extent people don’t even realize they are being bigoted or stereotyping in their attempts to be supportive.

  3. 5 Kurt
    July 29, 2009 at 00:42

    What advances in gay rights are we talking about that have brought us so far that we really don’t need to express ourselves in pride events and sports games? I still live in a country where most of the rights my brothers have because they are heterosexual are still closed to me. Besides while many of these events are designed to raise awareness, far too many people assume that the got started to raise awareness among the straight community.

    The truth is that most pride events are started to raise awareness among the gay community and fight off ugly stereotypes. For example the stereotype that other than field hockey for lesbians and badminton for gays, we are just not into sports. Or what about the widely held belief that Gay people in society should be seen and not heard–oh my bad that was what everyone used to think before gay pride parades! As far as paying for it all many of these events pay for themselves through increased tourism dollars and event spending. Which is why so many cities are often so supportive of these events. Let’s get the facts and history straight about gay truth.

  4. 6 Tom K in Mpls
    July 29, 2009 at 04:29

    At first, all I could think of was the ‘Cheers’ theme http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD8ljNobUys. But after a bit I realized there was a problem. Gay events are segregation. Maybe voluntary, maybe well intentioned. But still, segregation. Lets not institutionalize it like we did racism. Even worse is the public money it would cost.

    • 7 steve
      July 29, 2009 at 19:04


      Apparently you are confused between celebration and segregation. Do we call Vikings fans who tailgate together segregated??? No we call them celebrating. Gay people who gather for pride events or the gay games are NOT segregating, but rather CELEBRATING who they are as people.

      • 8 Tom K in Mpls
        July 30, 2009 at 14:38

        Those that demand legal separation, by definition are segregating. Many go to these events for simple enjoyment. But others wish to use these events to get governments involved to give them certain special considerations. This has been made clear in postings and on the air.

        Anyone is free to organize events within the law for the enjoyment of large groups of people under any pretext. I encourage this. But when people use this to push their agenda in the face of others, when the use it to demand separate legal considerations, that is wrong.

  5. 9 ZK
    July 29, 2009 at 04:30

    Matthew Mitcham won gold for Australia in Beijing last year, and there was quite a fuss about him being gay. If they’re good enough, they’ll be in the Olympics. This is not about talent, it’s about their life choices. Nothing wrong with that, but they should really not try to pass this off as being about showing off their talents.

  6. 10 patti in cape coral
    July 29, 2009 at 12:54

    I thought that the whole point was to be included, not to separate yourself from society. Do they let straight people compete as well? I don’t see that there is anything wrong per se, I just think in the long run it hurts their cause.

  7. 11 Michael in Ft. Myers, Florida
    July 29, 2009 at 13:25

    These gatherings are much more than just awareness. They help those of us in the GLBT community feel free to simply be ourselves with less of a chance of being harrassed or worse. That is the same reason that we have “gay bars”, to have a place to let our hair down. If I were to walk down the street where I live holding my husband’s hand we’d be beaten bloody and I guarantee the cops would do nothing to help. The Gay Games and similar events are places for us to hang out with other people who aren’t as likely to be in judgment. It is NOT about excluding heteros, and by the way heterosexual people ARE allowed to compete if they so choose if anyone actually went far enough to read any of the official charter language. Then again, right wing homophobes are too busy listening to their lying Fox news style pundits to actually look up facts for themselves.

  8. 12 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 14:11

    @ Michael

    Then you could justify any kind of voluntary segregation. They say girls learn better if they are segregated from boys. So should schools be sex segregated so that girls can be free from judgment? Should gays get their own schools so they don’t have to deal with being judged, or should everyone have to realize that everyone gets “judged” on a daily basis. If you get a job or not from an interview, you’re being judged. If someone accepts or rejects a request for their phone number, you are being “judged”. Grown ups have to handle being judged. It happens to all of us, every single day.

    • 13 Michael in Ft. Myers, Florida
      July 29, 2009 at 16:10

      Obviously, Steve, you didn’t read what I wrote. It goes far beyond “judgement”. I HAVE BEEN the victim of violent gay bashing, not just name calling. Girls don’t get beaten up on the street by stranger just for being girls. Segregation means complete seperation. Heterosexuals are ALWAYS welcome at ANY “gay” event, but we are not always welcome at “straight” dominated events!

    • 15 tipsylife
      July 29, 2009 at 16:58

      @ STEVE
      I couldn’t agree more. Its just like racial prejudices that we have been talking about on this blog; things like the skin color. Everybody can see it, so why dramatize to a point of poluting harmony? ‘We are blacks’/’we are white’/’we are gay’. We’ve been there and analysed all that and found that possiblilities of mutual interaction is full of endless possiblities.

      I agree to para olympics having special games due to disability, but, I don’t see the essence of sexist displays. Too much display and calling of attention may mean that that individual person or group is suffering self questioning/arguing with themselves. Our preferences are clearly defined from individual level.

      I think that any gays as I can see are free to coment on this blog with us. How do they feel about it or are they shirking to request the BBC to give them their own blog? They should have the guts to tell us.

    • 16 Kurt
      July 30, 2009 at 00:14

      So where does it end for you? Is it wrong to have girl scouts and boy scouts? Should we integrate locker rooms and bathroom facilities? Even in the Olympics and other events there is segregation. Gender is still a very large gap but we use it not to segregate women from men and define one as weaker than the other, but to celebrate and highlight their difference. I doubt the Olympic games would be so forgiving for transgendered individuals who may need to maintain a steroid regiment in order to continue their transformation or even accept them as they are without forcing them to define themselves as either male or female.

      It’s not segregation when you gather together for awareness or celebration or for any of the other great reasons these events began. None of these events are even long enough to remotely qualify as segregated. And it’s not integration when you make demands on a minority to change the many aspects of who they are as a community in order to avoid being maligned and ostracized and even battered for all the reasons they where ostracized from the wider community in the first place.

  9. July 29, 2009 at 14:27

    I agree with Kurt. I suppose events such as these are as important for homosexuals in societies and communities not as open to the idea, to be able to come to terms with their own sexuality if need be. If this means playing up the stereotypes used to throw scorn on the LGBT community, showing that these are nothing to be ashamed of, so be it.

  10. 18 tipsylife
    July 29, 2009 at 14:34

    Enough of ‘being ourselves’ mantra. I agree this is still stereotyping thing that borders on fundamentalisn or self-elevation into some kind of a cult. If they are legalized by law why the parades? What if we have the family having everyone ‘being themselves’; kids, sisters, brothers, parents, wives, husbands etc, what is that? This is discrimination in disguise and trumpeting that they are special.
    Nothing special there for me. We already know their point and they to shut up like we do because, we know they are there; even the ones who have not identified themselves publicly.
    What will a zebra prove by telling us that it is a zebra?

  11. 20 patti in cape coral
    July 29, 2009 at 14:53

    @ Michael in Ft. Myers – I live in the Ft. Myers area, and boy are you right, you could not walk down the street holding your husband’s hand. I was originally from Chicago, and it was definitely a kinder climate for the gay community up there where I was. Thanks for pointing out that heterosexual people are allowed to compete. I wasn’t too busy listening to Fox news pundits, just too lazy to look it up.

  12. 21 Wambui in Nairobi
    July 29, 2009 at 15:13

    Lets face it, even out there in the West, gay rights have not been successfuly mainstreamed. In any case, alot of young gay people are growing up with a negative self image.

    I see this event as a gay sporting equivalent to the BET and the MOBO awards. They are just an opportunity to revel in the good things that have come out from the black diasoporic community in the States and the UK. I live in Africa but I can tell you I derive a great amount of pride and self-assuarance from watching the awards on satellite. And yes I know that black artists can also compete in the Grammies and whatnots….still, BET & MOBO are v v special for me.

    I am sure these games will be just as special for some gay man or woman who like me is constantly bombarded with negative images of his/her community.

  13. 22 ELM
    July 29, 2009 at 15:16

    If the Gay Games are discriminatory, then so is the NAACP. I mean, how much more advancement can there be when we have a black President? Haven’t all the black community’s barriers been torn down?

    At least the GLBT community still has some rights and advances to fight for.

    • 23 Tom K in Mpls
      July 29, 2009 at 16:49

      You use the truth as a sarcastic point. Yes the NAACP *is* discriminatory. They perpetuate racism by highlighting and legislating it. They want to perpetuate it by being the noble eternal watchdog. How much more entrenched can racism be than to be a part of our laws? Should we create the same trap for gays? Gays are already openly found in every level of our society and are already guaranteed the same rights as anyone else. What more do they need? Everybody is unintentionally guilty of occasional unfair discrimination. Get over it, don’t make it a part of our laws.

  14. 24 Nanci
    July 29, 2009 at 15:17

    I don’t feel qualified to answer this. If gay people want to have separate events, that’s their right and choice. What do those who are gay think about this.

    That said, I really don’t think equal rights for gays have been achieved. I can understand the need and desire for separate events as a way to celebrate identity, whatever group you are. Hence, I like Irish parades and St. Patrick’s Day—they have nothing to do with Irish Americans having or not having equality, but a way of celebrating identity and pride. I imagine gay people will always want to celebrate their identity even when equality is achieved, but again, I defer to those of the gay community out there. What do you think?

  15. 25 T
    July 29, 2009 at 16:04

    Until gays are accepted by society, you’ll need these events.

  16. 26 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 16:08

    @ ELM

    Many groups tend to do that. Even I was a member of the JCC, the Jewish Community Center of greater Washington. They don’t allow non jews in, I’m pretty sure, but then again, I remember Dan Quayle gave a speech there once in the 1980s when he was VP. I think it’s more a fear of terrorism. When i applied for a summer membership, they really wanted to make sure I was jewish. I kind of an appauled with the concept of that, but JCC’s have a history of being attacked. The question is, why is it permissible for minorities to have exclusive private clubs, but not the majority? If a country club of white protestants did this, there would be hell raised.

  17. 27 Linda from Italy
    July 29, 2009 at 16:09

    As a hetero female with absolutely no interest in actually doing sports I can’t see what the problem is. The sports world is still largely homophobic, men have to be macho and girls girly (pace Martina and Billie-Jean), so a gay Olympics is nothing other than a bit of fun where, as Michael says, people can let their hair down in the way they want, with no harassment.
    My best friend of over 30 years is a gay guy and I have often been to gay bars with him in the past, where I was never treated with anything but the utmost friendliness, not the case if he wanted to go into many a London pub or club and “get friendly” with a guy he fancies, despite the fact that half the heteros may be snogging each other half to death!
    Where is the harm? Gay and lesbian people are still discriminated against almost everywhere, if not by law, but in terms of social acceptability in some circles, so any kind of Gay Pride event is to be championed by all of us who hate such discrimination.

  18. 28 Linda from Italy
    July 29, 2009 at 16:17

    Sorry, my “bit of fun” comment is not belittling gay sports per se, but is my attitude to all sport – after all it’s only a game……………..

  19. 29 Venessa
    July 29, 2009 at 16:40

    @Michael in Ft. Myers, Florida

    There may be places for gay people to let their hair down but no one does the gay community any justice by being overly flamboyant and shouting their sexual orientation at everyone they see. It’s not necessary to be proud of who you are. It does sadden me though that you cannot comfortably walk around where you live holding your partners hand without harassment. It’s completely absurd to me.

    I played in a gay softball league for several years in support of my gay friends. I can’t believe the amount of crap that was flung at me for being “straight.” Ultimately it was the reason I finally quit playing. It wasn’t worth the headache to play with the subset of people that were just jerks.

  20. 30 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 16:44

    @ Venessa

    All groups have jerks in them. I think the point of being overly flamboyant as contrasted witht he rest of society, is that everyone else basically desexualizes themselves. Think of being at work. Sex is a complete taboo. You simply don’t discuss it tot he point where you don’t know if anyone is gay or straight unless they say they are married or have a boyfriend or girlfriend. You simply don’t discuss these things because you are there to work.

  21. 31 RightPaddock
    July 29, 2009 at 16:56

    Sure why not, providing I’m not forced to attend and providing other groups are afforded the same privileges – ethnic, religious, indigenous, political etc.

  22. July 29, 2009 at 17:21


    Let me be clear. You do not need to be Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgendered (LGBT) to participate in Sport or Culture at the Gay Games. Everyone is welcome and the Gay Games always has hetrosexual athletes and cultural participants.

    YES. We do need a Gay Games hosted event every four years. Lifes are changed all over the world as a result of these events. Gay and Lesbian Athletic groups are forming all over the world as a result of each Gay Games event. Gay and lesbian people are reclaiming sport, health, every day. Please read the mission of the Gay Games. http://www.gaygames.com

    I am available for interview anytime. I live in Seattle, WA.

    Kelly Stevens
    Officer of Communications, Federation of Gay Games

    (SOURCE – FGG FAQs PAGE http://www.gaygames.com/ )

    The Gay Games, unlike the Olympic Games, enable people
    from all walks of life to compete against each other
    regardless of skill level, age or physical challenge.

    The first Gay Games took place in 1982 in San Francisco,
    bringing together 1,350 athletes from a dozen countries. The
    Games have been held every four years since in world-class
    cities. Gay Games VII in Chicago in 2006 attracted 11,500
    participants from 70 countries. The Gay Games are one of
    the world’s largest amateur athletic events.

    The Gay Games are the legacy of Dr. Tom Waddell, a
    decathlon competitor for the U.S. in the 1968 Olympics.
    Waddell conceived of the Games as an opportunity for gays
    and lesbians to show the world that their skills and
    competitive spirit were equal to the rest of humanity. He
    wanted to promote better understanding through sport.

    The Games define winning as achieving one’s personal best.
    Anyone can participate, regardless of ability, age, sexual
    orientation, race, gender, nationality, political or religious
    beliefs, ethnic origins, or HIV status. Athletes represent their
    cities and not their countries.

    • 33 Tom K in Mpls
      July 29, 2009 at 18:50

      While all this is true, it still focuses on sexuality. You are forced to give implied support or not go. That *is* segregation!

      • 34 RightPaddock
        July 30, 2009 at 03:06

        @Tom K in Mpls writes “You are forced to give implied support or not go. That *is* segregation!”

        What utter piffle!!

        There are many things which I choose not to attend. That’s me being discriminatory with respect to what I’ll attend or not attend. And it’s me being discriminatory as to which groups I’ll support & from which groups I’ll withhold my support. If there’s any segregating going on its being done by me.

        If others are offended by my absence at their events or my lack of overt support for their cause then they’re obviously supportive of a totalitarian doctrine, which I’m don’t and for which I won’t apologize.

      • 35 Tom K in Mpls
        July 30, 2009 at 14:45

        @ RightPaddock, I agree completely with you. That is my point. There are people that wish to use these events as a polarizing event to push for separate legal considerations. That is what I am commenting on.

  23. 36 nora
    July 29, 2009 at 18:02

    As a gay man’s little sister, a knot tightens in my stomach at the cruelty underlying some of the blog posts.

    The games are one of many festivals that allow both macho sport and feminine kitch and they are popular with gay and straight because they are fun, well organized and celebrate our civil liberties and talents.

    Scottish games have benefitted from the kilt-bearing gay athletes who made more US folks aware of how good a guy can look in yards of pleated fabric.

    I am good with a wrench, but my daughters learned their impeccable make-up skills from Uncle Freeman (or Aunt Steffie when he has his drag on.) Picture of Freeman is on the SFgate website.

  24. 37 Anthony
    July 29, 2009 at 18:09

    HEY! Look at us! We’re gay and different, so diferent we need segregated events!

    I think that things like this hurts equality more than anything.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  25. 38 Sharlene
    July 29, 2009 at 18:12

    While I understand why the question is being asked, my answer is a resounding YES. Here in the United States, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8 which prevents gay marriage. which cuts off gay couples from thousands of rights that come with marriage. There is still no Federal protection from being fired based on sexual orientation. We need ways to come together and fight our basic human rights; if we don’t stand up for ourselves, who will?!

  26. 39 David
    July 29, 2009 at 18:16

    I know this is yesterday’s show, but I’m just now hearing it. It’s probably worth noting that athletes have been attacked: http://www.cphpost.dk/news/crime/155-crime/46417-explosives-mark-hate-crime-at-outgames.html

    Anyone who thinks homophobia has been conquered and equality has been achieved has another think coming.

  27. 40 marcnaimark
    July 29, 2009 at 18:17

    The Maccabiah games just concluded in Israel. The World Police and Firefighter Games open in two days in Vancouver. The World Senior Games take place later this year in Sydney. In addition to these events, there are games for the military, games for firefighters, games for students, games for any number of social and professional groups, not to mention the various regional games that take place on a regular basis.

    And yet I never hear the words “segregation” and “exclusion” used for any of these events. Odd, isn’t it?

    • 41 marcnaimark
      July 29, 2009 at 18:21

      and one more thing… while you must be in the military to compete in the World Military Games, while you must be a firefighter to compete in the World Firefighter Games, etc., etc., the Gay Games (and the Outgames, and just about any other LGBT sporting event) impose no requirements whatsoever for participation.

  28. 42 Vijay
    July 29, 2009 at 18:20

    Yes it is important to have special games for groups like gays because it fosters a sense of communityand solidarity ,hardly any countries in the world accept equality for gay people.
    Sport is an arena where there aren’t any openly gay competitors ,it lags behind liberal societies norms.

  29. 43 Derek
    July 29, 2009 at 18:26

    The reality is there is still a lot of hostility towards the gay community around the world. While I completely agree that the NEED for gay-specific events seems out-dated, the fact remains that the importance of healthy gay role models is paramount. BTW, being gay is NOT a choice.

  30. 44 nora
    July 29, 2009 at 18:27

    The word segregation is being used like a mallet.

  31. July 29, 2009 at 18:27

    If the Gay Games is a response to discrimination and harassment that Homosexuals experience in Heterosexual events such as the Olympics, then a protest march is an effective method to raise awareness, not a sporting event. Personally, the Gay Games sounds more like a meet-up to me.

  32. 46 Anne
    July 29, 2009 at 18:31

    The Gay Games were first called the Gay Olympics and the Olympic Committee threatened to sue if the “Olympic” name was not removed. The Gay Games exist because being an open, “Out”, homosexual disqualifies an athlete from competing in the Olympics. There definitely needs to be a Gay Games to raise consciousness about this blatant discrimination by the Olympic Committee.

  33. 48 Christopher
    July 29, 2009 at 18:32

    One of the biggest problems queer people still face is building a strong and healthy sense of self esteem and sexual identity in a society and culture that, despite recent progress, still stigmatizes them. One day gay pride events, and events like the gay olympics, *will* become anachronisms as today’s show’s introduction mentioned, but we’re not there yet. Not yet.

  34. 49 marcnaimark
    July 29, 2009 at 18:33

    It’s too late to participate in Outgames, but the original quadrennial LGBT sports and culture festival, the Gay Games, will take place from 31 July 2010 in Cologne, Germany. Everyone’s welcome, whatever your sexual orientation, whatever your level. More info at games-cologne.com or gaygames.org .

  35. July 29, 2009 at 18:33


    The Gay Games is open to everyone and is a quadrennial athletic and cultural event which brings together people from around the world.

    Based on the principles of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best,(TM) the Gay Games welcomes all people without regard to their sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political belief, athletic/artistic ability, age, physical challenge, or health status.

    – Federation of Gay Games Mission Statement

  36. 51 Caroline
    July 29, 2009 at 18:34

    Given the story that the BBC broadcasted today on the trial of three men in Southafrica for raping and killing a lesbian soccer player because she was lesbian I wonder how one can question that Lesbian/gay/transgender and bisexual people are still discriminated against and even killed for their sexual orientation? (and that all over the world). Apart from that there are so many stories about homophobia in sports.

    So how can you blame the community for hosting an event that is offering a space where people (and as mentioned several times on this blog it’s also open to straight people) can simply act, moove, love and be overly flamboyant without being harassed and hurt?

  37. 52 Brian
    July 29, 2009 at 18:37

    Are straights that want to compete yet support the GLBT movement permitted to compete? GLBTs are not restricted from competing in “straight” competitive events. I have no issue with GLBT events as long as anyone can participate regardless of sexual preference.

  38. 53 Christopher
    July 29, 2009 at 18:37

    When every nation participating at the summer and winter olympics would allow an openly gay athlete to represent them, then we can say that the gay olympics are no longer necessary.

  39. 54 nora
    July 29, 2009 at 18:38

    Just because you are gay doesn’t mean you can”t prefer going to sports with the boys to marriage.

  40. 55 Spencer
    July 29, 2009 at 18:39

    The exposure of the gay games in a city that isn’t as progressive as Copenhagen is paramount to educating a populous the “normality” of the gay culture. Seperation of straight events and Gay will go on until equality is the norm.

    Go Cleveland Ohio, finalist for the 2014 Gay Games.

  41. 56 Daniel
    July 29, 2009 at 18:41

    This argument presumes that equal gay rights are becoming commonplace in all locales. In Cleveland, OH, in a state that boasts the 10th largest gay population in the USA, we don’t have nearly the rights that those in Boston, Massachusetts do. The Gay Games would bring a lot of exposure and awareness to the area. Although the city of Cleveland identifies much more with the East Coast, its suburban population still largely sees homosexuality as a “don’t ask, don’t tell” issue. The Gay Games are an athletic event. They are also a large-scale protest in the most peaceful fashion– one that will bring money, travellers, and awareness to an otherwise deprived area.

  42. 57 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 18:41

    The Gay GAMES are a GREAT celebration of GAY PRIDE. Yes we should celebrate GAY PRIDE FOREVER, FOR CENTURIES TO COME. Each generation unfortunately learns exclusion and hatred either from parents or religion. Its obvious the world remains less than tolerant of gay people and we need to continue to educate people about this issue, year after year after year………………..forever

  43. 58 marcnaimark
    July 29, 2009 at 18:41

    @Brian. As you would know if you had read earlier posts, or checked out the relevant website, you would know that LGBT sporting events are totally non discriminatory… unlike many other sporting events.

    And just what do you imagine the “test” of your homosexuality would be? Would you have to snog a guy before climbing up to the diving board?

  44. 59 Anthony
    July 29, 2009 at 18:42

    So, this guy wants to change “regular people”‘s minds who are homo-phobic by having these flamboyant parades and stuff? Come on, thats a bit counter intuative. It DEF makes it worse. Put yourself out there like the great black rights activists did instead of hiding, then having a parade that no one who you would want their minds change would watch, and if they did they would come out more homo-phobic. All the gay guys I know aren’t flamboyant like that (except for one, which even gay guys say “dude, that guys TOO gay, lol).

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  45. 60 Tom K in Mpls
    July 29, 2009 at 18:44

    One thing needed is people need to recognize that poor law enforcement does not require new laws. People need to stand up and see that laws are properly enforced. Gays do not need new laws. We simply need to make the ones that exist work.

  46. 61 Scott [M]
    July 29, 2009 at 18:45

    I know Byron Beck personally. He gets heard because of persistence not because of the quality of his thought.

  47. 62 marcnaimark
    July 29, 2009 at 18:47

    Byron on the air has an interesting theory about what makes one qualified to speak: He lives in the city where a business that sponsors athletes is based, so he’s an expert on LGBT athletics.

    I live in Paris. I guess that makes me an expert on perfume, fashion, high-speed trains, and space rockets.

    BBC World Service, please feel free to contact me on any of these subjects.

  48. 63 Scott [M]
    July 29, 2009 at 18:47

    If it is relevant to some: I am gay.

    I have always been wary of “pride” in general: black, gay or anything else. I also tend not to relate to people who make it a point to call attention to something that is essentially matter-of-fact and unchangeable. You in effect can’t celebrate something which allegedly doesn’t make you inherently different from other people—without claiming that you are different from other people. Gay or any minority celebrations are tautologies of a sort.

    This is sort of tricky area and perhaps largely depends on intent. Because there all kinds of ways in which we find people who are like us and try to be part of those groups. There are female gyms, women’s/men’s restrooms, boys/girls schools, girl scouts, boy scouts. I think within the context of these widely accepted sex based segregations it would be hard to make a case against something like the gay games. But, on the other hand being gay doesn’t generally change your sex in any way.

  49. 64 Renata D.
    July 29, 2009 at 18:49

    As a lesbian from Brazil I welcome every chance the LGBT community has to make a stand. In some western countries there may be the impression that we as a people have already acomplished equality, but this is not true for most of us. Although Brazil has made a lot of progress over the past years, it is still a violent place for LGBT people, as the bomb attack in this year’s Pride Parade in São Paulo has proven so.

  50. 65 Keith
    July 29, 2009 at 18:50

    I don’t think that a sporting event changes peoples’ minds about an issue, although it may certainly nurture pride within the group.

    However, I don’t MIND that they have these events, I think it does function as a fun “celebration”.

    This event does not segregate, as everyone is allowed to participate. Anyone who says differently has an axe to grind.

    I would argue that while I am in support of this event, as far as funding goes, it should be voted on before it receives public funding. If the general public is expected to pay for this event, it should reflect their wishes.

  51. 66 Anthony
    July 29, 2009 at 18:51

    Kudos to Byron, you are doing more than these silly games. Keep up the good work!!! People like you make the real change!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    p.s. I’m straight and still support him 🙂

  52. July 29, 2009 at 18:56

    Olympic and elite athletes who have participated in or supported the Gay Games include:
    Martina Navratilova
    Greg Louganis
    Bruce Hayes
    Dave Kopay
    Esera Toala
    Mark Tewkesbury
    Elton John
    Billie Jean King
    Chris Morgan
    Tom Waddell
    Leigh-Ann Naidoo
    John Amaechi
    Michelle Ferris
    Ji Wallace
    Petra Rosner
    Rudy Galindo
    Judith Arndt

  53. 68 Scott [M]
    July 29, 2009 at 18:59

    We should separate this issue first from the state of gay rights on the planet, and just simply ask conceptually (even if gays were not discriminated against) would these events be a problem. Is there anything inherently wrong with an event that is categorized along these lines of sexual orientation?

  54. 69 Victoria
    July 29, 2009 at 19:03

    I do not believe there should be gay games. This goes to further segregate and stereotype their community.

    While I am staunchly against homosexuality, I am for their human rights.

    The decision for one athlete over another to be “out or in the closet” goes to the individual.

    Why is it that the LGBT community need to “announce” their sexuality….perhaps those in the Olympics and other events realize that their sexuality is a private matter.

    As a heterosexual woman…I don’t feel a need to tell everyone that I am straight…what I do with my partner of choice – is my business and I really don’t want you to know about it anyway.

    Why do they?

  55. 70 nora
    July 29, 2009 at 19:07

    As long as my generation, the one that saw our brothers ‘fagbashed’ is alive, we need safe events. I will always be jumpy about skinhead haters, and like safe places to be with the family, like the theatre but with sport.

  56. 71 DBD
    July 29, 2009 at 19:07

    Here’s the questions for Gay Event advocates: Would a “Black-skin Only” event promote acceptance and tolerance, or serve to separate? An “Athlete’s of Color Games” would be seen as racist and contrary to the goals of diversity acceptance. The Gay Games event is no different.

    If you want people to be color-blind and orientation-blind, you need to give up proclaiming “we’re different!”

  57. 72 Scott [M]
    July 29, 2009 at 19:07

    I guess we have to ask whether the key to this might lie in the positive or the negative. Is celebration somehow different from criticism or bigotry, because celebration is positive and criticism is negative? Gay or black celebrations are intended to praise what is potentially unique about a group of people and what they share in common. Does that praise, cause harm elsewhere? Does it say if you are not like us you are not as good as us? Or does it just say these are some interests we have in common.

    It seems like many of us are okay with celebrations that are more superficial in nature. Like a Greek, Polish, Irish or other nationalistic type of festival or parade. Do these comparisons relate at all? How are they different from something that isn’t man-made such as race or sexual orientation? Even if countries were never nations and the planet was one country with one government would it somehow be different to celebrate certain areas and what is unique about the people that come from them?

  58. 73 brian in NYC
    July 29, 2009 at 19:12

    I feel as though the gentleman from Portland is missing the point of an event like the Gay Games. It is not to create a double standard, or a “seperate but equal” situation, but rather to showcase to the straight world a more honest picture of LGBT people. Because the games are created FOR gay people, BY gay people, it presents a both a sporting event and gay athletes in a way that is not possible at events created and run by straight people.

    Gay centered events allow straight people to see gay people when they are in a relaxed and comfortable environment that allows for a normalcy that is difficult to find at straight centered events, even in gay-friendly communities. Personally, I have found that only through spending time at gay-centered events, where I, as a straight person, was in the minority, have I been able to truly get over my own conscious and sub-conscious homophobia. The quest for true equality is not just about laws, rights, and political correctness. Ultimately, it comes down to people with different lifestyles being comfortable with one another. Attending gay events has allowed me to understand the LGBT community in much more honest way than usual portrayals in the media and I have been able to communicate that to friends and family who are far more conservative than I am.

    Also, I used to live in Portland, and while it isn’t perfect, I found it to be extremely gay friendly and open-minded when compared to other parts of the U.S.

  59. 74 patti in cape coral
    July 29, 2009 at 19:16

    Even though I would like to see a day when these games would no longer be necessary, I think the nicest thing about them is how friendly they are, and how inclusive they are not just of the heterosexual community, but the, ahem, more athletically challlenged community as well.

    • 75 Tom K in Mpls
      July 29, 2009 at 19:35

      Why are they ‘necessary’ now? I can see ‘desirable’. But if they ended, very few would notice until much later, if at all.

      • 76 patti in cape coral
        July 30, 2009 at 11:52

        Well, before the show, I thought they were not necessary, and indeed, I probably wouldn’t notice if they ended, not being very athletic, but after the show, I have to say that they seem very necessary to a lot of gay people, and probably their family and friends as well.

  60. 77 marcnaimark
    July 29, 2009 at 19:16

    @Victoria: I guess you never go out to dinner with your partner. Or walk down the street with him. Or hold his hand. I do hope you don’t: I don’t know how I could stand you shoving your heterosexuality down my throat like that.

    More seriously, you don’t seem to realize that you are “announcing” your sexuality every single day. And because your sexuality is considered “normal”, you face no discrimination, no assaults, no insults.

    Of course, you might just maybe perhaps experience some discrimination, assaults, and insults, not as a lesbian, but as a woman. Should you hide your sex, the way you expect gay and lesbian people to hide their sexuality?

  61. 78 Scott [M]
    July 29, 2009 at 19:16

    Parades/Prides: I think a gay parade in general is more likely to be a problem conceptually, but a parade that promotes gay rights would logically make more sense. Because promoting human rights is a specific purpose to promote change. Rather, then just saying hey we are gay and it is great. I think gay pride events should go away and if necessary gay rights events could be held.

    Gay Games: Gays are not handicapped (used intentionally), they are generally not physically different from straights, so there is no functional component that would be required to justify a separate set of games. I assume the social component can’t be that important, especially because many events are not teams.

  62. 79 Mia in Copenhagen
    July 29, 2009 at 19:19

    While Copenhagen may indeed be a liberal and open-minded city compared to general and sadly abysmal global standards of human rights, there’s still a long way to go. Homophobia, transphobia and phobias against anyone else who dare transgress a very limited code of behaviour flourish here as elsewhere – as my queer friends can testify. So Outgames is all about awareness, also, and very much so, in this oh-so-liberal society. Depressingly, it required the horrible incident of a violent attack on three participants in the Outgames on the opening night to make the police finally realise they really ought to have a policy on homophobic hate-crime and ought to register it as being precisely that. So far so good and let’s hope they follow up on it. For now, cheers to all of you who make our city more colourful – yours is a courageous battle to make the world more accommodating for us all, hetero, gay or whatever your choice of description.

  63. 80 rogerb
    July 29, 2009 at 19:25

    Re: the comment that it sounds like a “meet-up”: I am sure most events (parades, concerts, art festivals, AA meetings) can sound like that and that many people use such events to hook up. That’s life.

    I went to Gay Games VII with my husband of 18 years so we could compete in our sports (wrestling and martial arts) and share our sports experience with other people and encourage still others to pursue their sports further. I was fortunate: I played sports as a kid and all my life, but after I had my hips replaced in 2001 the gay wrestling club was the only place I could find that would have the patience to let me work out my footwork; that simply doesn’t exist in mainstream sports. My husband never did sports and then I got him into Aikido. So late in life, because of the Gay Games, he was finally able to experience sports competition and uses the discipline he learned in martial arts to his music.

    Please don’t tell me if you’ve never been an athlete at the Gay Games that they are merely for hook-ups and that we would be ‘better off’ having only parades and demonstrations.

    The experience (not the spectacle) is the message.

  64. 81 matt
    July 29, 2009 at 20:16

    Not to get off the subject, but isn’t a gay sporting event really just about meeting other gays? It’s nice to have something other than a website or a bar to meet guys. Everytime gays meet it doesn’t have to be political.

  65. 82 marcnaimark
    July 29, 2009 at 20:20


    Why do police and firefighters have separate events? Why do the military? Why do older athletes? Are you saying they’re all handicapped? How about your company softball team? Are you all disabled? Are the students competing in the Universiade handicapped?

  66. 83 marcnaimark
    July 29, 2009 at 20:26

    DBD wrote “Would a “Black-skin Only” event promote acceptance and tolerance, or serve to separate?”

    Alas, your analogy is fatally flawed. Gay Games and similar events are not “gay only”. I do hope you protest African-American oriented television channels, the BET awards, the Women’s Leadership Council, and any other event or organization based on affinity and minority identification. I doubt you do though…

    You might start by protesting the Olympics, who discriminate against those who are less athletically gifted. Or you could just come to the Gay Games next summer and enjoy an event open to all, whatever their ability and their experience, from novice competitors to Olympic medal winners.

  67. July 30, 2009 at 01:26

    I will just give ONE of many examples of why Gay Games are powerful and necessary.

    In 1998 GayGames Amsterdam, the City had to step in and force the Dutch Wrestling Federation to help put on the wrestling event. Up to that point they had refused all contact about officials, equipment, etc.. Mind you this is liberal open minded Amsterdam. Diversity is religion, but but sport was still a closed door.

    One of the leaders of the local LGBT wrestling club (Tigertje) was a man with great competitive, coaching, and officiating skills, but was ostracised by the Dutch Wrestling Federation for his suspected orientation. I will call this man ‘Jerry’ for the sake of this article, but you can look up his real name.

    Once the city forced the Dutch Wrestling Federation to show up and support the GayGames, there was this incredible evolution that occurred within hours. They were pleasantly surprised by the competitiors, the modified rules, and the spirit of the event. By the end of the event, friendships were formed, and the President of the Dutch Wrestling Federation was invited to the post tournament party. I distinctly remember having a few drinks and having a GRECO match with this man who two days prior was homophobic. We locked up and wrestled right on the dance floor (ok we put mats on our dance floor).

    Within a year Tigertje was inducted into the Dutch Wrestling Federation, and within years, that same ‘Jerry’ is the PRESIDENT of that same Dutch Wrestling Federation.

    I had the pleasure of meeting up again with ‘Jerry’ in 2007 Antwerp EuroGames wrestling, and again this week at the CopenHagen wrestling. To quote ‘Jerry’, he said that people still talk about how 1998 GayGames Amsterdam effectively changed attitudes with sports officials and organizers in The Netherlands.

    This is why Byron Beck is way off the mark when he says that demonstrations and PRIDE celebrations are the only successful political tool. They are not, and they are often counterproductive. The GayGames is tackling the last remaining closet, and winning that battle just like ‘Jerry’ was able to. I suggest the ‘activists’ learn a lesson about the diversity of methods in achieving successful political change.

    I lke to have FUN in athletics AND change minds.
    GayGames does change the World.

  68. 85 RightPaddock
    July 30, 2009 at 03:46

    The first Sydney Mardi Gras (http://www.mardigras.org.au/) was held in 1978.

    it is only in the last few years that state and federal governments have finally repealed laws that discriminated against unmarried partners. Many of the laws discriminated against the interests of unmarried hetero and homo sexual partners. The only significant law that continues to discriminate against the interest of homosexual partners are those relating to marriage. But married couples do not enjoy any significant privileges over other partnerships, whether they be hetero or homo sexual.

    There can be little doubt that 30+ years of the Gay Mardi Gras has had a significant impact in changing most peoples attitudes towards the gay & lesbian community in Sydney and elsewhere in Australia, or that it hasn’t provided a lens via which the associated campaign for law reform could be projected.

    Interestingly the changes in most peoples attitudes came about quite a lot sooner than changes in the law. Australia has openly gay politicians and until he retired a few months ago it had an openly gay Supreme Court judge (1996-2009), I doubt either would have happened were it not for the Mardi Gras and its associated endeavours.

  69. July 30, 2009 at 04:38

    I would add that in developing nations such as China and South Africa, where there are few gay clubs, bars or other safe venues for LGBT people to meet, gay sports groups are used as a safe way for LGBT people compete and to meet.

    Shanghai had it’s first gay pride event this year and the event was restricted by the authorities – but it’s sports groups have been growing over the past 5 years and have reached many more people.

    Gay sports teams enable LGBT athletes to compete and be complete – they share the same backgrounds and goals as their team-mates and can participate in sports without having to endure homophobic comments or hide their relationships.

  70. 87 Rafiki Lucky
    July 30, 2009 at 12:18

    Africa needs this also

  71. 88 Brian
    July 30, 2009 at 15:05

    Remind me again why the BBC is squandering valuable air time on a topic of interest to only a small section of audience? I am sure I speak for many when I ask “Who cares?” This doesn’t pass the “so-what” test that I thought all news worthy stories should have – and then to endure valuable drive time listening to the endless series of whiners stating how they deserve more recogntion/acceptance/priveleges just because they see themselves as marginalized made me angry enough to actually post this note! There are so many other more important issues to cover – listening to other people’s sexuality is not one of them. Society will never fully accept homosexuality – and homosexuality will never go away. What I object to is the wasting of my time trying to present it as an worthy issue.

  72. 90 Scott [M]
    July 30, 2009 at 17:47

    marcnaimark and everyone else,

    Obviously, the distinction between the events you mentioned and the gay games—members of those events are members by choice or common interest. Gay people are not gay because of choice, just as the disabled are not disabled by choice. There is some-kind of distinction between things you can change and perhaps things you can’t change or are unalterable characteristics of who you are. I think the events I mentioned in some of my posts that are sexed based are perhaps more accurate or worth looking at in comparison to the gay games.

    I think many of us have a problem with grouping people together around things they inherited. Because calling attention to those qualities or characteristics which are not created in the mind and are of a physical nature seems unfair and segregationist. Similar to the way many resent that some people are apparently more physically attractive then others, or some people are tall and short. Or why many of us resent or dislike the notion of a beauty contest—even though they celebrate beauty—or they celebrate gayness—by this act of celebration we also perhaps comment on people who cannot be members of these groups. If you make it a point to celebrate gay, black, tall, pretty, you by proxy say something about people who are not.

    In think it boils down to this: to celebrate something that others can’t achieve no matter how hard they try seems pointless and perhaps unfair or inequitable!

  73. 91 rogerb
    July 31, 2009 at 03:31

    Well, Brian you nailed it: because homosexuals are only a minority and may be fighting an uphill battle for acceptance, any mention of them is not newsworthy and, just as obviously, nobody who is not a member of that minority cares about that minority. Sorry the discussion intruded on your peaceful, comfortable luxury drive.

    Funny, I don;’ recall anyone asking for “more” than anyone else; just the same.

    • 92 Maxine
      August 3, 2009 at 07:59

      Well when this minority group (homosexuals), achieve equal status with the rest of us, I hope they and their partners will not mind paying the same taxes married people pay and accept the reduced financial benefits from the unemployment office.

  74. 93 Sean
    July 31, 2009 at 17:23

    I have not read every single post but from some of the things I have read and heard on the podcast I would like to offer my own perspective.

    As a former elite athlete and Div I coach in the US, I think it is important to note that the greater (straight) sports community is about 10 years behind in its acceptance of LGBT people. That means people in the sports community right now have to decide to deal with the homophobia or leave their sport. Gay Games and OutGames give another option while educating through visibility using their events and all of their other programming. There won’t be change in the sports community without pressure. And as for using politics over social sporting events…they are working there too.

    Please keep in mind that when you suggest that focus on this issue would be more valuable on other issues like marriage equality, immigration rights, etc (which are all incredibly important), that probably fragments the gay sports movement more from the rest of the LGBT community. It is not the advocates that volunteer their time to make the opportunity available for people to reconcile conflicting identities.

    Keep up the good work FGG, GLISA, and OutGames crew. Your work really is changing lives!

  75. August 1, 2009 at 12:36

    Ignorance of sexuality in all its facets is mammoth worldwide. I see no problem with any gender defining and/or redefining itself in social events of any kind that advance knowledge and understanding worldwide.

  76. 95 James Kidd
    August 1, 2009 at 22:12

    I cannot believe some gay rights advocates are telling me that gay orientated sports events are no longer needed and may harm the progression of equlity.
    I am furious that these events, which are well organised, great fun, open to all and crucially embrace equality and the amatuer are being critisised. I will not be told what I can and cannot do by either the PC or the ‘I don’t see the difference wing of gay politics’. I cannot hold my boyriend’s hand at either of the straight sports clubs I attend. Give me a god dam break and let me occasionaly enjoy my sport with my partner without fear or predjudice.
    I have never felt so patronised by anybody to the extent of Byron and the host of the radio programme that dealt with this issue. I am angry! Are these people living in a realism vacum? Women and men are excluded from sport or must deny their sexuality to participte without risking their safety. As Byron ask’s, why can’t we be out, I know of pople who have died for being OUT. I would welcome him to attend a local football match here in the UK.
    The Game Games and countless other ‘gay ‘sporting events are beacons of volunteering, social integration, sport for sports sake, anti discriminatory etc etc
    ‘Straight ‘ sports events should be adopting the ‘gay’ model !!!

  77. 96 LA Gay athlete
    August 26, 2009 at 19:06

    I have attended two Gay Games and both of the World Outgames. I enjoyed all them equally. Attending these events and being in the company of fellow gay athletes from around the world has given me some of the happiest experiences of my life. For me, it was very beneficial to have such events–to compete openly as a gay athlete, to experience the brotherhood of fellow gay athletes, to celebrate being gay, to meet other guys from around the world, and to have fun. I think these events are absolutely relevant and those who say there isn’t a need, just don’t want to see gays banding together and gaining clout.

    Based on my experiences at both the Outgames and Gay Games, I like them equally well. The Copenhagen World Outgames was a brilliantly run Games and I disagree with those that say GLISA and the Outgames should disappear. In fact, what I’ve seen is that the GLISA model of sports, culture, and human rights plus regional events is what the gay community really wants. I don’t mind that there are two competing organizations–why should there be a monopoly? I say, let them compete and let’s see who has the best product. In the meantime, we have twice as many opportunities to attend these world events.

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