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Gay and Lesbian Olympics: Gay Games versus Outgames

Outgames vs. Gay Games


Gay and Lesbian Olympics: Gay Games versus Outgames
In 2006 gay and lesbian athletes from around the world will have not one, but two Olympic-type events. How did that happen? Why is there a Gay Games in Chicago and the World Outgames in Montreal?

A History of The Gay Games

The Gay Games were started by Dr. Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlon competitor in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Tom Waddell envisioned a sporting event to show the world that gays and lesbians are “normal” and have the ability to compete at a high level of sport. The first games were scheduled for 1982 in San Francisco.

Gay Olympics

The Gay Games were originally called the Gay Olympic Games. But a few weeks before the opening, the United States Olympic Committee obtained an injunction in federal court prohibiting the use of the word "Olympic". The organizers fought this in the courts, but eventually lost, even though the word Olympics is used by numerous groups including: Special Olympics, Police Olympics, Nude Olympics, Dog Olympics, and many others.

Since 1982, the games have been known as The Gay Games. Events have been held every four years.

  • 1982 San Francisco 1,300 Participants
  • 1986 San Francisco 3,500 Participants
  • 1990 Vancouver 7,300 Participants
  • 1994 New York 12,500 Participants
  • 1998 Amsterdam 13,000 Participants
  • 2002 Sydney 11,000 Participants
  • 2006 Chicago 12,000 Participants (estimated)

    The Gay Games/World Outgames Split

    In 2001 the Federation of Gay Games (the organizing body of the Gay Games) selected Montreal to host the 2006 Gay Games. However the Montreal Committee and the Federation were having a hard time agreeing on a contract. At stake was the control and scope of the event. In November 2003, Montreal walked away from negotiations and decided to hold their own international gay sporting event. A new governing body was formed called Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA) It was originally called Rendez-Vous Montreal 2006, but was later changed to Outgames. In the meantime, the Federation of Gay Games named Chicago as the new host of the 2006 Gay Games.

    Learn More:

  • Gay Games Chicago 2006
  • Montreal Outgames 2006
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