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Original Participants Return for 10th Gay Games in Paris

by Andy Smith
Thursday Feb 15, 2018
Same-sex pairs figure skating at Gay Games 9, Cleveland.
Same-sex pairs figure skating at Gay Games 9, Cleveland.  (Source:Federation of Gay Games)

The excitement surrounding the historic 10th Gay Games intensified by the romance of Paris is driving a high level of early registrations for the August event.

With more than 40,000 visitors, up to 15,000 active participants and 3,000 volunteers expected, reservations for the Games and accommodation are filling up. The Games' golf and tennis events are already full and a number of other events are nearing capacity. Pie charts on web pages (www.paris2018.com) for each designated event indicate the number of participants who have already registered.

Gay Games 10 not only will feature swimming, track & field and other summer events, but also two sports associated with the upcoming Winter Olympics: figure skating and ice hockey.

Paris 2018 is especially exciting because approximately 20 athletes and musicians who participated in every edition of the games since Gay Games I in San Francisco (1982) will be returning for Gay Games 10, according to Doug Litwin, Officer of Marketing, Federation of Gay Games. Former Olympian Dr. Tom Waddell, who came out in the 1970s after participating in track & field at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, founded the games 36 years ago.


Gene Dermody - Full Nelson
Gene Dermody displays his gold medal Gay Games VI in Sydney, 2002.  (Source:Federation of Gay Games)

Gene Dermody - Full Nelson

One of these veteran competitors is wrestler Gene Dermody, who, at age 69, is planning to compete in Paris and then retire from the Games shortly after. It's been a satisfying and emotional journey since his first Games in 1982.

Dermody learned about the Games when we saw a poster in Greenwich Village. His experience was so transformative that he moved to San Francisco and built a more integrated life as an out gay man.

Gay Games founder and former Olympic track & field competitor Tom Waddell (1968 Summer Games) presented Dermody with the Bronze Medal he won at his first Games. "It was a mind-blowing experience. We had a huge wrestling tournament and I'd finally found my tribe."

All the athletes have indelible memories of the competition. A former member of the New York University wrestling team, Gino thought he was "a hotshot wrestler" when he first participated in the Gay Games. However, he soon learned the competition at the highest level was extremely competitive. He did well most years but didn't come out on top until he traveled to Australia two decades later.

"My most memorable experience was in Sydney in 2002 for Gay Games VI, when I finally won a gold medal," he says. "It was amazing. I had injured my Achilles in the first match and then had to win over seven other guys."


James Hahn - Aiming for 15
James Hahn sporting a shirt from Gay Games VIII, Cologne.  (Source:Federation of Gay Games)

James Hahn - Aiming for 15

James Hahn isn't just happy to be attending his tenth gay games; he has long-term plans. "My first Games was in 1982 when I was just 21 and I hope to make it all the way to Gay Games XV in 2038," says the San Francisco-based bowler.

He's seen many changes through the years, as cities evolved from acceptance (or reluctant acceptance) to actively courting the Games-a tremendous opportunity for each site's tourism industry.

"It is my observation that major municipalities throughout the world now court the Gay Games. We have approximately the same number of participants as the Olympics, we use many of the same venues, we have many of the same sports as the Olympics, and it takes a significant amount of money and volunteers to produce the Gay Games."


Charlie Carson - Making a Splash
Charlie Carson atop the medal podium (center) at Gay Games I, San Francisco.  (Source:Federation of Gay Games)

Charlie Carson - Making a Splash

New York-based Charlie Carson will be swimming in his tenth Games. "There are six swimmers who've been to all of the Gay Games, (though) I'm the only one not from a California team," says Carson.

His most memorable event remains the first. "Definitely walking into the opening ceremony at Gay Games I, with 1,300 participants parading into Kezar Stadium to the theme from 'Chariots of Fire' with several thousand others in the stands yelling. It was a watershed moment and we were thrilled to be there. It's hard to convey how different an event this was for LGBT people being open about who they were then the norm back then," Carson says.

"Except for political gay pride marches, there hadn't been anything like it in public before."

To learn more and register to participate before your event is full, visit
Registration link: https://parisgaygames.fusesport.com/registration/395/
Main site: https://www.paris2018.com

Follow Gay Games 10 on social media:
Facebook Federation of Gay Games
Facebook Paris 2018
Instagram
YouTube
Twitter
#gaygames #allequal


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