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    Gay Games 10: A World Celebration of Diversity

    Since 1982, the Gay Games have brought together people from all walks of life, without discrimination, around the values of diversity, respect, equality, solidarity and sharing. With sport being a medium for togetherness and inclusion, the Gay Games are open to all, and offer individuals the opportunity to participate in their own way.

    This year from August 4–12 in Paris, athletes, artists, supporters, spectators, donors, volunteers, conference participants, sponsors and more will gather in Paris for the tenth Gay Games. The first Games were held in San Francisco, the home of founder Dr. Tom Waddell (1937–1987). Waddell had competed in track and field at the 1968 Summer Olympics, where he placed sixth among the 33 competitors. He envisioned creating a “Gay Olympics,” but the U.S. Olympic Committee sued his organization over its use of the word “Olympic” and the re-christened Gay Games were born.

    San Francisco’s close connection to the Games lives on, as numerous local sports teams and others are now preparing for the trip to the City of Lights, which is still glowing even more due to France’s recent World Cup victory on Bastille Day weekend. In this issue of the San Francisco Bay Times we celebrate just some of these talented athletes.

    Doug Litwin, a longtime musician in the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, serves on the Board of the Federation of Gay Games. At the June 21 SF Giants LGBT Night game, he helped to arrange for three key Gay Games participants to shout, “Play ball!” before the first pitch was thrown. They were Jim Hahn (bowling), Seth Shapiro (swimming) and Rick Thoman (track & field). “These three men are among a very small group—less than 20—of people who have participated in every one of the Gay Games since it began here in San Francisco in 1982,” Litwin told the San Francisco Bay Times.

    You can see this Pride Month moment at:

    We also spoke with Tyler Cole, Chairman of Team San Francisco. He told us: “The Gay Games are about competing, doing your personal best and showing the world that we are everywhere, even in athletics. Many of our members are top amateur athletes in their sport, and it is exciting to see them do well. The majority of our athletes are just regular folks who decided to make a goal, worked towards competing and doing their personal best. What can be more positive for our community? And what great role models for everyone these athletes provide. We consider sports a healthy and positive way to meet new people, be a good rolemodel and participate in your community.”

    As of this writing, well over 10,300 athletes from around the world will be at Gay Games 10. It’s not too late to book your flight, if you’d like to be there in person to cheer them on! There will also be an all-night gala opening party in the Grand Palais, a closing party at the Docks of Paris and many more special events throughout the week. For travel tips and more information about the Gay Games, please go to

    Gay Games Highlights


    “We are an all-woman dance formation team. There are 14 of us. We are dancing a kaleidoscope of shapes while partner dancing ballroom quickstep and East Coast swing. It took a lot for us to get here. We went through injury, fires in Sonoma, deaths of parents and siblings and more.”

    Zoe Balfour

    Track & Field

    (The San Francisco Track & Field Club was the first LGBT track & field club in the country and formed as a result of the Gay Games in 1982.)

    “We’re sending a full team of at least 25 people to Paris. This will be my fourth Gay Games. I did the 2002 Games in Sydney, but participated in indoor volleyball. I also did the Cologne Games and the most recent Games in Cleveland. I’m a 10-time medalist in track, and look forward to my first time in Paris!”

    Aaron Castillo


    “I am a member of the San Francisco Bay Blades, the LGBT Rowing Team that rows out of Lake Merritt. I am also a board member of the team. The Blades will definitely be going to the Gay Games in Paris! We are super proud.

    We’re racing in a number of boats including some races with friends from other gay rowing clubs around the country. We’re entering three singles sculling races, two double sculls, a quadruple scull and two fours. The two fours will be in conjunction with friends from DC Strokes, a GLBT rowing club in Washington, D.C.”

    Gabriel Gima