Clinton welcomes 'powerful' gay games
Friday 17 June 1994
More than 11,000 people from 40 countries have signed up for 31 sports, including swimming, ice hockey (with three women's teams called the Mighty Dykes), discus, billiards, badminton, softball, cycling and soccer.
One gay group wanted a friendly match with the Italian World Cup team, but the 'Battling Blues' did not think it was quite their thing. Croquet was dropped because lawns are hard to find in New York. Fans are already bemoaning the loss of the accompanying tea and cucumber sandwiches.
President Clinton has sent a letter of welcome to the players, saluting the games for its 'powerful message of equality and acceptance to people everywhere'.
New York's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, who has little support in the gay community, sent a very straight letter saying the city would be 'richer in every sense'. He was probably talking about hotel occupancy.
Half a million visitors are expected from all over the world for the high camp and high hurdles, and the other big event in the gay calendar, which happens to coincide with the games: the 25th anniversary of the gay riots at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, generally accepted as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement.
This time the games' organisers would like everyone to take the event more seriously than last time in Vancouver. Then, the track-and- field co-ordinator ran off with a new lover five days before the event, and spectators had to come down out of the stands to officiate.
The multi-cultural nature of the event is stressed. Anyone can take part. Although one of the star events is the physique competition, with its pulsating strobe lights and skimpy bikinis, you don't have to be body beautiful, or even gay. Non-gays, the fat and the ugly are all welcome. That, after all, was the original idea of the late Tom Waddell, a former Olympic decathlete who launched the games in San Francisco in 1982 as a political statement.
To underline equality everyone gets a medal, no matter how they perform. But some real professionals are taking part, including a number of professional ice hockey players. Whether they will appear in drag, as many amateurs do, is not yet known. There is at least one ice-based S&M event on the programme.
The opening game of touch-football is between New York and Hollywood, complete with singing 'Queerleaders'. And in the women's volleyball, the star performer comes from California and is nicknamed 'The Beach'. New York's team is called 'To Serve With Love'.
The Gay Games poster boy is Bruce Hayes, a gold medallist on the 1984 Olympic 800- meter relay team. He's in six races. The big swimming event is the relay in which men dress in women's underwear, wigs, white gloves and black rhinestone sunglasses. They use a pink flamingo as a baton.
This year's commercial side of the games has upset many fans who would like to keep it on a much lower key. Airlines and beer companies have contributed. And in the games headquarters in the Pennsylvania Hotel in Manhattan there is a collection of stalls selling high-priced hi- tech and low-fat products, hoping to scoop up the gay big spenders.
One stall owner tried to interest me in a television cunningly concealed in a pair of goggles priced dollars 750 ( pounds 500), and in some enzyme-rich dried-fruit bars. I came away with a badge which read: 'Please don't feed or tease the straight people'.
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 5 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
Spain accused of 'provocation' after letting Russian submarine refuel off Gibraltar
The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
Allonautilus scrobiculatus: World's 'rarest' creature spotted for only the third time ever
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Bangkok Bomb: Thai police name Adem Karadag as suspect arrested over blast that killed 20
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...