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'.
Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
Oscar Pistorius trial: Photographs of Paralympian splattered in blood shown in court
Seth Rogen compiles list of all the celebrities he’s got high with
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Satellite ‘pings sent five hours after contact was lost' the only clue in hunt for £160m plane
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Plane's communications were deliberately disabled says prime minister Razak as new radar evidence points to hijacking
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 3 Saving a crushed egg with tape and glue: Why you should care about the kakapo
- 4 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...