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    Bay Area LGBT Athletes Bring Home Gold

    By John Chen–

    The 2018 Gay Games held August 4–12 in Paris, France, have come and gone in the blink of an eye, but they left lasting memories and friendships for the many Bay Area LGBT athletes who made the quadrennial pilgrimage to compete and represent San Francisco. Conceived by Dr. Tom Waddell, a former Olympic decathlete, the first Gay Games commenced in 1982 in our very own city, where 1,350 athletes from 12 nations competed in 17 sports.

    The stated mission of the Federation of Gay Games “is to promote equality through the organization of the premiere international LGBT and gay-friendly sports and cultural event known as the Gay Games.” The Federation wants “the widest possible participation, regardless of age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, health status or athletic ability. Everyone is welcome!”

    The 10th Gay Games in Paris attracted over 10,000 athletes, nearly octuple the participants from the first competition in San Francisco. These competitors represented 91 countries in 36 sports. For all of the Bay Area LGBT athletes who traveled to France, the Gay Games held special meaning, whether it was their first time or their tenth.

    Rick Thoman, a track and field iron man, is a one of a kind LGBT athlete who has competed in all 10 Gay Games, and won at least one medal in all of them! Thoman’s path to athletic glory was never easy; it was one of sheer physical and mental strength, dedication, perseverance and never-say-die spirit. The Games provided Thoman with great motivation and drive to continue to strive for excellence in spite of father time, strained muscles, surgeries and broken bones. More important than the gold, the silver and the bonze is how the Gay Games changed Thoman’s life as a gay man.

    “The Gay Games helped me to reconcile being gay and being athletic,” Thoman told me for the San Francisco Bay Times. “The stereotype of gays being sissies and lisping fairies did not jive with the masculine image of athletes. That I was able to be recognized as both gay and an athlete was the self-esteem I needed to fully come out. Through the Gay Games, Dr. Waddell showed the world that gay people aren’t just drag queens but we are also runners, swimmers, wrestlers, basketball players … . We are athletic and we are competitive. We aren’t fragile—we are tough and strong and can endure the training it takes to be among the best.”

    In our Bay Area and all over the world, there are many, many more Rick Thomans who have overcome tremendous physical, emotional and self-image challenges through LGBT sports and through the positive channels that the Gay Games can provide. To honor and pay tribute to Bay Area LGBT athletes whose hard work paid dividends, I’ve compiled a list of local teams and individual medal winners below. An official complete list was not available as of this writing, but for updates and more information about the 10th Gay Games, please go to: https://www.paris2018.com/

    Congratulations to all of the winners and participants!

    Basketball

    Gold, San Francisco Rockdogs, A Division
    Silver, San Francisco Jas, C Division

    Cycling

    Silver, Bill Tucker, Men’s 35–39 37km Race

    Dance Sport

    Silver, Ron Jekins/Photis Pishiaras, Ballroom Dance/Senior Men Standard B
    Silver, San Francisco Vima Vice Squad, Team Show Dance
    Silver, Cheer San Francisco, Formation Teams

    Ice Hockey

    Bronze, San Francisco Team Riptide

    Martial Arts

    Gold, Chris Yang, Men’s Open Hand Form, Intermediate
    Gold, DeVante Allen, Men’s Open Hand Form, Black Belt
    Gold, DeVante Allen, Men’s Musical Form, Black Belt
    Gold, Long Wu, Weapons Form, Senior Black Belt
    Silver, DeVante Allen, Men’s Weapon Form, Black Belt
    Silver, Louise Rafkin, Women’s Musical Form, Black Belt
    Silver, Louise Rafkin, Women’s Forms 52 and Up, Black Belt
    Silver, Cinthia Varkivissor, Empty Hands Form, Women’s Black Belt 52 and Below
    Bronze, Long Wu, Empty Hands Form, Senior Black Belt

    Soccer

    Gold, San Francisco Spikes Soccer Club, Men’s 11 v 11 Division 2B
    Bronze, San Francisco Spikes Soccer Club, Women’s 7 v 7

    Softball

    Silver, San Francisco Inferno Blaze, Women’s Division
    Silver, San Francisco Inferno Blaze, Open B Division
    Bronze, San Francisco Eagles, Open A Division

    Swimming

    Gold, Bart McDermott, 50m Fly
    Gold, Bart McDermott, 100m Fly
    Gold, Bart McDermott, 200m Fly
    Silver, Bart McDermott, 200m Free

    Tennis

    Gold, Alex Liou/Kilby Featherston, Men’s 18+ A Doubles
    Gold, Ben Zseto/Jerry Ball, Men’s 40+ C Doubles
    Gold, Alvin Chua/Gino Tagyolo, Men’s 40+ Open Doubles
    Gold, Alvin Chua/Carrie Portis, Mixed 40+ A Doubles
    Gold, Barbara Dunn/Michele McGeoy, Mixed 50+ Doubles
    Gold, Curtis Dunn, Men’s 18+ Open Singles
    Gold, David Chen, Men’s 40+ A Singles
    Gold, Carries Portis, Women’s 40+ B Singles
    Gold, Laurie Watters, Women’s 60+ Singles
    Silver, Hiro Hongo/Marcus Lo, Men’s 18+ A Doubles
    Silver, Santi Soumpholphady/Karen Gee, Mixed 40+ A Doubles
    Silver, Barbara Dunn/Karen Gee, Women’s 40+ A Doubles
    Bronze, Fred Allemann/Tyler Cole, Men’s 40+ B Doubles
    Bronze, Charles King/Mary Beth Meyer, Mixed 40+ B Doubles
    Bronze, Michele McGeoy/Dora Dome, Women’s 40+ A Doubles
    Bronze, Mary Beth Meyer/Laurie Watters, Women’s 50+/60+ Doubles
    Bronze, David Chen/Linda Scaparotti, Mixed 40+ A Doubles
    Bronze, Santi Soumpholphakdy/Schulhoff Tam, Men’s 40+ Open Doubles
    Bronze, David Sauzeat/Elenie Opfer, Mixed 40+ C Doubles
    Bronze, Curtis Dunn/Kerry Mitchell, Men’s 18+ Open Doubles
    Bronze, Alvin Chua, Men’s 40+ Open Singles
    Bronze, Pete Torres, Men’s 40+ A Singles
    Bronze, Mary Beth Miller, Women’s 60+ Singles
    Bronze, Kilby Featherston, Men’s 18+ A Singles

    Track & Field

    Gold, Rick Thoman (San Francisco Track & Field Club), Javelin
    Gold, Rick Thoman, 4 x 100m
    Gold, Sean Au (San Francisco Track & Field Club), Pole Vault
    Gold, Sean Au, 4 x 200m
    Gold, Sean Au, 4 x 400m
    Silver, Rick Thoman, Shotput
    Silver, Sean Au, Retro Running 100m
    Bronze, Rick Thoman, 100m
    Bronze, Sean Au, 4 x 100m

    Water Polo

    Gold, San Francisco Tsunami, Recreation Division
    Silver, San Francisco Tsunami, Competitive Division

    (Editor’s Note: For more about the 10th Gay Games held this year in Paris, see the July 26 and August 23 issues.)

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball and football teams.