News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Meaden & Moore

Akron Children's Hospital


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Sports




Are the Gay Games a victim of its own success?
The evolving attitude towards the gay community makes some wonder how much longer the games will be relevant
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
This story is part of a special series.


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Gay Games supporters say there is an opportunity for change in Paris in 2018.
Courtesy of Amanda Rabinowitz
Download (WKSU Only)

After a week of swimming, darts and dozens of other competitions that were part of the 9th International Gay Games, thousands of athletes proudly marched from the Cleveland Convention Center across the street to Mall C for closing ceremonies.

They were embracing, cheering, and waving flags…many with their gold, silver and bronze medals clanging around their necks. And many were chanting “Thank you Cleveland!” WKSU's Amanda Rabinowitz on the future of the Gay Games.

LISTEN: The future of the Gay Games

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:26)


A huge success in Cleveland and Akron
When Cleveland and Akron were selected as hosts in 2009, the Gay Games Federation said it saw an opportunity to change the hearts and minds of a Midwest region. Organizers are calling that a huge success -- as churches, businesses, police and whole communities welcomed the athletes.  

The games coincided with arguments in a packed courtroom on the other end of  the state – Cincinnati – that could overturn gay marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Still relevant?
And that evolving attitude towards the gay community makes some wonder how much longer the games will be relevant. Gay Games Assistant Director Rob Smitherman feels there will always be a place for the event – even as attitudes in the U.S. evolve.

"The need may move to Eastern Europe, to Asia, to South America, but there still is a desperate need for this. We have people coming from these areas, and that’s the most impactful, those are the people that may suffer for coming here. And they will go back to that. So those are the brave ones."

These Gay Games included the very first participants from countries including Russia, Guam, Columbia and El Salvador, where those athletes are often excluded from competing in mainstream sporting events.

Do the Games create a gay social bubble?
But, not everyone thinks the concept of the Gay Games is good one for the LGBT community as a whole. Daniel Browne is an openly-gay writer from Warwick, England, who founded the Push Projects LGBTQ youth support charity. He says that events like the Gay Games create a gay social bubble that hurts the movement. (Read more of his comments)

"You know, we go on about equality, we want equal opportunities, we want to be integrated with mainstream society. But then we have Gay Games and that kind of separates us out from everyone else, really. I think if we want equality, both legally and socially -- because socially is so important also -- I think we need to try to integrate a bit more."

The downside of integration
But that integration in sports comes with its downside, says California State Polytechnic University Pomona political science professor Renford Reese.

Reese compares LGBT inclusiveness in mainstream sports to the integration of African-American players into Major League Baseball – which quickly spelled the end of the Negro Leagues. Reese says black players lost a bit of their identity and cohesiveness.

"Because what happens 10 years from now? Does the movement, when it’s fully embraced potentially by American society, does it now have the same fervor, the same intensity, the same passion, the same connectiveness, the same team spirit as it has now?"

Cleveland and Akron an example for years to come
But the Gay Games athletes and supporters say the Games will continue to be relevant for years to come, and that Cleveland and Akron are good examples of that.

Cyd Zeigler covers gay athletics on his site OutSports.com. He was in Cleveland this week for his fourth Gay Games. He says the games have special meaning to each city in which they are held, and that helps end anti-LGBT bias in sports internationally.   

"What the real lasting legacy of these Gay Games, I believe, is the impact it had on a purple state, a state that is a bellwether for attitudes in this country. Just to see all the rainbow flags absolutely everywhere, even on police cars and hotdog stands, that was an incredible, powerful statement. I think that’s how it will be remembered."

On to Paris
Athletes say they hope a day comes when the Gay Games are no longer needed. But, for cheerleader Felipe Hernandez of New York, he’s just glad to continue being a part of something special.

"Whatever the sport, people don’t feel comfortable coming out and that is crazy to me that there are gay athletes that can’t be who they are. I’d love one day for this not to exist, but in the meantime, I’m glad that it does. And I’m looking forward to Paris."

The Games next move to Paris in 2018. Last year, France became the 13th country in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry. But, writer Cyd Ziegler says one of that European country’s most popular sports, soccer, remains racist and homophobic. He says that gives the Gay Games an opportunity to change hearts and minds there.

Related WKSU Stories

Local artists capture the colors and spirit of the Gay Games
Friday, August 15, 2014

Gay Games bring estimated $56.7 million boost to local economy
Friday, August 15, 2014

Like any family, the Gay Games has its generation gaps
Thursday, August 14, 2014

Churches come together to welcome and include Gay Games athletes
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gay Games rodeo: Changing stereotypes
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

From Guam to Africa, Gay Games athletes compete for equality
Monday, August 11, 2014

Prepping for the Gay Games: Changing hearts, neighborhoods and bus routes
Saturday, August 9, 2014

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

Three exonerated of murder convictions from 18 years ago
Thanks heavens that none of them have been condemned to death. This alons should convince the USA to join the civilized world by abolishing the death penalty. E...

Kombucha: a sweet business brewed with fermented tea
Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is a plant. I have one growing in my sunroom. The leaves are dried and added to teas. It's harvested commercially and...

Bringing back ballet in Cleveland
I do think Ballet in Cleveland is doing good things, but the fact that director says "When we have flourishing companies like the New York City Ballet and the A...

Report confirms some Vietnam veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange
was in nam 1969 exposed va stated lost medical records was in lawsuit from 197? till settled 0 $ 2010 ? said all nam vets will get back disability till 198? jus...

Mentorship grant program redefines "faith-based" provision
Can't anyone have values, beliefs, and morals anymore? How is it anymore unconstitutional for a school partner with a "faith-based" organization than any other ...

Exploradio: The challenge of finding a healthy balance with technology
Thank you, Jeff, for another well done Exploradio. I always learn something interesting about what is happening in NE Ohio.

Northeast Ohio's transgender community rallies around restroom issue
A good first step would be for Cleveland to require restaurants to have a public restroom. Cleveland is the only city I've ever been in where restaurants somet...

Vapor shops say tobacco tax hikes could hit them hard
Maybe you should be DOING a study, since every time you've tried to villianize them all that's happened was the opposite. I'm not a fan of alcohol that's flavor...

New law gives access to birth records to Ohio adoptees
Can siblings also look for their missing brother or sister? And how do we go about it?

Ida McKinley's tiara comes home, with the help of "Pawn Stars"
I donated to the fund to keep the tiara at the museum where I believe it belongs. I took my 16 year old granddaughter to the showing I dont think it will be som...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University