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'.
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...