logo.gif logo.gif A Brief History Of

Uncle Donald's Castro Street

This page is a tribute to Doctor Tom Waddell, his vision, his courage, and his dedication to achieving his personal best;
ideals which live on in the spirit of the Gay Games.


I have no affiliation with The Federation of Gay Games. Grateful acknowledgment
is made to the Federation for permission to use the Gay Games Logo.

medl82.gif medl82.gif

Gay Games I
San Francisco
August 28 1982 to September 5 1982
1350 Athletes From 179 Cities in 12 Countries
Participating In 14 Athletic Events
600 Volunteers and a Budget Of $125,000

TomW.jpg Doctor Tom Waddell, a decathlon competitor at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, conceived this athletic event as an opportunity for gay people to demonstrate to the world that their skills and competitive spirits in sports parallel those of the rest of humanity and to show how "normal" gays tend to be in comparison to the stereotypes. He wanted to replace the obsession to win at all costs with the positive joys of simple participation. These games would require no minimum ability for participation. Winning would be defined as achieving one's personal best. Competition would not stress nationalism or age and men and women would compete on an equal basis. Tom Waddell felt Nationalism was a disunifying concept, so athletes were encouraged to represent their city rather than their country.

A group called San Francisco Arts and Athletics (SFAA) was formed. Two years were spent in the planning of this event which was to be called GAY OLYMPIC GAMES. Opening ceremonies were planned for August 28, 1982 and TINA TURNER agreed to perform. 82button.GIF Three weeks before the opening, the United States Olympic Committee obtained an injunction in federal court prohibiting the use of the word "Olympic". This despite the fact that the USOC had ignored the use of the ancient word by Special Olympics, Police Olympics, Nude Olympics, Dog Olympics, and many others.
kezar.JPG This created chaos and near collapse as the organizing committee scrambled to delete every use of the sacred word in advertising, merchandising, every activity, and every printed page. Somehow, the committee completed the Herculean task and the Opening Ceremonies of the GAY GAMES were held at Kezar Stadium (once the home of the 49er's football team, and now no longer in existence) in San Francisco on schedule. The Master of Ceremonies was Armistead Maupin, author of "Tales of the City".

SFAA appealed the Federal Court's injunction and a legal battle raged for two years. It was finally settled by the United States Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in favor of the USOC in March, 1987. The still-vindictive USOC arranged to have legal fees of $92,000 levied against Tom Waddell's residence, despite the fact he was fighting for his life against AIDS.

(The following comment was provided by Derek Liecty of the Federation of Gay Games.
Headquartered in San Francisco, FGG is the governing body and parent organization of the Gay Games.)

"However, by 1993 the USOC had changed its tune, waiving the legal fees against Tom Waddell's estate and inviting the Federation's Executive Committee to meet with the USOC in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to 'discuss matters of mutual interest.' A break through in communication was established and a rapprochement is now in place. In 1994, the USOC awarded then out-of-the-closet Olympic Championship diver Greg Louganis its highest award. In Greg's acceptance speech he dedicated the award to Tom Waddell and implored the USOC not to have Olympic volleyball played in homophobic Cobb County, Georgia, as part of the 1996 Olympic Games. It worked. In 1994 the USOC prominently listed Gay Games IV in its annual handbook under noteworthy events. The Gay Games can and do make a difference!"


medl86.gif medl86.gif

Gay Games II

San Francisco
August 9th to 17th, 1986

3482 Athletes (40% women)
From 251 Cities in 17 Countries
Participating In 17 Sporting Events
With A Budget Of $350,000 ($30,000 from the city of SF)

SFRace.JPG It was never the intention of the SFAA to make the Gay Games entirely a San Francisco event. They were kept here a second time in order to refine them and clearly establish their philosophy. Having four years to plan the event, a much more diverse and entertaining set of events was scheduled by the SFAA. "Procession of the Arts", a series of cultural events complementing Gay Games II, was added. This included concerts, exhibits, plays, conferences, films, dances, cabarets, and an old-fashioned Circus Parade! The events promoting the talents and creativity of the Lesbian/Gay community, spanned the entire month of August.

86button.gif In 1982, AIDS was virtually unknown. But by 1986, it was an ominous and very scary black cloud that threatened the Gay community. Gay Games II was a psychological boost as it demonstrated our strength, spirit, and unity. Tom Waddell was diagnosed with pneumocystis pneumonia 4 weeks before the start of the games, but competed in Track & Field and won a gold medal for Javelin.

Dianne Feinstein, Mayor of San Francisco, welcomed the crowd at the Opening Ceremonies with:

"I am so pleased to be here! Welcome to San Francisco and these Gay Games. They are very important, and don't let anybody tell you they are not. One of the things it has been a privilege for me to see is the spirit and talent that resides in this community - special spirit, special talent, a coming together in times of trial with the idea that "We Shall Overcome." What's important is that you are here; What's important is that you are good; What's important is that you are coming together from all over the world in peace and love to demonstrate to all who are willing to see that you are energetic, enthusiastic, and that you have much to give to this needy world."

At the Closing Ceremonies, Tom Waddell announced that the site chosen for Gay Games III was Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was a very emotional moment for many of us in the stands because we knew that Tom was not likely to be with us in Vancouver.

Doctor Tom Waddell, founder of the Gay Games,
died of AIDS on July 11, 1987.


r_hand.gif MORE ABOUT GAY GAMES II l_hand.gif

Gay Games III
Vancouver, BC, Canada - August 4th to 11th, 1990
medl90.gif medl90.gif

7,500 athletes from 39 countries
participating in 27 athletic events
2,000 cultural participants
with a budget of $2.1 Million

Vanc90.JPG In 1989 the SFAA disbanded and in its place the Federation of Gay Games was born just 5 months before the Vancouver Games. The Federation is the governing organization of the Gay Games and is charged with promoting and protecting the ideals of the games. Unlike the Olympics which are exclusive, the Gay Games include competitors with every level of ability from record setter to recreational.

90butt.gif The Gay Games grew immensely in both size and stature in the four short years since San Francisco. Vancouver, a very beautiful and friendly city, rose to the occasion. A portion of this effort was funded by the Canadian Federal Government. Vancouver's City Government and its police department were very supportive. Athletes were allowed free use of public transportation! Thousands of local people volunteered their help and Gay Games III became the largest volunteer effort in Vancouver's history. Opening and Closing Ceremonies and many social events were held in public buildings remaining from Vancouver's Expo. The people of Vancouver generously opened their city and their hearts and made an excellent impression on the visitors to Gay Games. The event was a tremendous opportunity for gays and lesbians to be seen in the public eye in a wholesome atmosphere that emphasizes fun and diversity, both cultural and athletic. It was in Vancouver that the Gay Games became Olympian in magnitude and rose to the stature of a world-class event!

r_hand.gif MORE ABOUT GAY GAMES III l_hand.gif

medl94.gif medl94.gif
Gay Games IV
New York City
June 18th to 25th, 1994
10,864 Athletes From 2000 Cities in 40 Countries
Participating In 31 Athletic Events
7000 Volunteers And A Budget Of $6.5 Million.


NY1.JPG gaygames.gif It's true. More athletes competed in Gay Games IV than any other event including the Olympics! The games were held in June in New York City instead of August because 1994 was the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which occurred in Greenwich Village in June of 1969. The riots were the result of corruption and intolerance in the NYPD and were sparked by a routine police raid on the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street. Rioting continued for three days. Stonewall is considered by many to be the beginning of the Gay Liberation movement in America.

NY2.jpg The organizers of Gay Games IV chose to have the Games coincide with the Stonewall celebration. The games were held during the last week of June, 1994. A capacity crowd of 55,000 people attended the Closing Ceremonies on Saturday,June 25 at Yankee Stadium, a historic shrine in the world of heterosexual sports. The parade of athletes into the stadium lasted nearly 2 hours!

The Stonewall "March on the United Nations" took place the following morning. At the last minute the route of the march was changed and partly due to defiance and partly due to confusion, there were two marches; one up Fifth Avenue and one up First avenue. They converged near the entrance to Central Park. It was a joyous gathering on a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon in Manhattan. It took until late afternoon for the final marchers to reach the celebration site. One highlight of the march was a Rainbow Flag one-mile long! (That's 1.6 Kilometers.) The headline entertainer at the Central Park celebration was Liza Minnelli.

For one long eight-day week Manhattan was inundated with Gays, Lesbians, and their friends (which includes but is in no way limited to: 'heterosexual', 'bisexual', 'trisexual', 'transsexual', 'homosexual children of heterosexual parents', 'transgendered', 'transgendering', 'bicoastal', 'queer', 'fag', 'drag queen', and, of course, the ubiquitous 'questioning'!). I hope I didn't leave anyone out! From dawn to dawn, every happening, every restaurant, every subway train, everything was predominantly gay! And the games were played, and records were broken, and medals were won. Tears of pride and joy were shed. Friendships were made, spirits raised, eyes opened, and hopes renewed!
Once again the Gay Games worked their magic in half-a-million different ways!

r_hand.gif MORE ABOUT GAY GAMES IV l_hand.gif

FRIENDSHIP '98 medal98.gif medal98.gif

Gay Games V
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
August 1st to 8th 1998

14,715 Participants - 42% women
from 5 continents - 68 Countries
30 sporting events
3842 Volunteers And A Budget Of $7 Million.

98logo.GIF "Friendship Through Culture and Sports" is the motto of Gay Games V held on the first eight days of August 1998 in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. This was the first time Gay Games was held outside of North America. They have proven to be immensely popular and they reap a fortune in good-will and understanding. Amsterdam with all of its wonderful qualities did much to increase the stature of the games and the gay community as well. The following is quoted from the GAY GAMES AMSTERDAM 1998 Website:
Stichting Gay and Lesbian Games Amsterdam 1998 is organizing the Gay Games to promote the world-wide emancipation of homosexual men and lesbian women through the strengthening of their self-respect and sense of community. They strive to reinforce the feeling of self-esteem and mutual respect between homosexual men and lesbian women. The theme is Friendship and the motto "Friendship through Culture and Sports". Naturally, the Gay Games is open to anyone irrespective of race, sexual preference, age or origin.

Gay Games V received enthusiastic financial support from the city of Amsterdam and the government of the Netherlands. In fact, mid-week, when a financial crisis seemed to be developing, the City provided a financial guarantee of up to 5-million Guilders ($2.5-million) if needed. Major corporate sponsors included KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Speedo, Avis, Rolling Rock, Bacardi, Kodak, and Levi Strauss.


August 1, 1998 was anything but a normal saturday in Amsterdam. It was the culmination of four years of planning by a core group of 62 dedicated workers. It was the first of eight days of community service for 3842 generous volunteer "FRIENDS". It was the beginning of a week of opportunities for 15,000 participants to strive to achieve their personal best. Finally, it was a day when the charming citizens of Amsterdam opened their sparkling city and their warm hearts to host the 250,000 visitors who gathered to celebrate the strength, beauty, and diversity of the gay community.


Opening and closing ceremonies were held in the beautiful new 50,000 seat ArenA. The Mayor, Mr. Schelto Patijn, speaking on behalf of the people of Amsterdam, welcomed everyone with glowing praise and encouragement and thanked us warmly for coming.

The 30 athletic events and a large variety of cultural programs were held at locations throughout the City, but the focal point was The MUSIEKTHEATER, Amsterdam's concert hall, which was transformed into FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE. Here, one could meet friends for lunch or drinks, cruise, buy event tickets and merchandise, volunteer to help out, check out the posted results of various events, wander through the halls and view the MEGA-POSTERS which changed daily, pick up a copy of the free newspaper, THE DAILY FRIENDSHIP, enjoy free live entertainment, or simply sit and watch the boats pass by on the canal.

In the evening, the focus shifted to the Dam (in front of the Royal Palace) in the City center. Here, a huge temporary stage and bleachers converted the square into an outdoor concert hall; the best show in town, free, nightly! There was also a free outdoor film festival in Vondel Park. Included among the cultural events was an international festival of lesbian and gay choirs featuring more than 2,000 singers. There were so many cultural events being offered, that if they had been presented in sequence it would have taken months to view them all. In adddition, all the major museums mounted exhibits with themes which complemented the theme of the week, "FRIENDSHIP THROUGH CULTURE AND SPORTS."

For eight electric days and nights, Amsterdam was crammed with all kinds of people; fat, skinny, old, young, tall, and short. They had one thing in common- They were all beautiful! There is no doubt - the Gay Games can change the world!

r_hand.gif MORE ABOUT GAY GAMES V l_hand.gif


Gay Games VI
Sydney,NSW, Australia
November 2 to 9, 2002

On November 13, 1997, The Federation of Gay Games, meeting in Denver, chose SYDNEY AUSTRALIA to be the host for the 2002 Gay Games VI. Other cities that bid for the Games are Toronto, Montreal, Dallas, and Long Beach.

Gay Games Sydney were held in the first week of November, 2002. The slogan:

"Under New Skies"


Sydney is a beautiful, sophisticated, exciting city with a large and diverse gay community. October and November are Springtime in Australia and hopefully the weather was ideal for the Games. The people of Australia are very friendly and charming. With only 20 million people living on the entire continent, Australia is not crowded and violent crimes are rare. The ocean is warm and inviting. The beaches are beautiful and, except around Sydney, are mostly deserted.

opening ceremony 13,000 people from 80 countries participated in 31 Sporting and 11 Cultural Events. There were even participants representing Iraq, Pakistan, and United Arab Emirates, places where the penalty for homosexuality is death. Gay Games is non-discriminatory and is open to anyone over 18. Participating and achieving one's personal best are the most important aspect of Gay Games.

Gay Games VI images posted here are the property of Chris Geary and used with his permission.

There was a financial crisis in the final weeks preceding the start of Gay Games Sydney. It seemed that ticket sales for Opening Ceremonies were sluggish, so the company handling tickets decided the games would flop. They refused to release the funds to the organizers in case they had to refund the ticket money. 1 of the major sponsors went bankrupt. Another went out of business. The organizers were desperate for money to operate. The government refused support even though it had projected that the Games would bring $50-million (US) into the economy. At the last moment, a group of community elders put up personal guarantees to cover cash flow shortages. When the planeloads of athletes began arriving from all over the world, Sydney finally realized that the Games would be a success. The stadium was sold out for the Opening Ceremonies, and apparently the entire week was a total success. 13,000 competitors from 80 nations participated. That's pretty incredible, considering the high cost and long hours of travel to the remote location.

Interestingly, In Amsterdam in 1998 a similar cash flow crisis surfaced but was quickly averted when the Mayor of Amsterdam announced that the City would guarantee payment of up to $5 million (US) to creditors if necessary.

Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales, initiated the Opening Ceremonies. The headline performer was singer KD Lang. The highlight of the evening, as always, was the Parade of Athletes.

The Tom Waddell Awards for outstanding Gay Games participation were presented at the Closing Ceremonies to Susan Kennedy, past co-president of the Federation of Gay Games and member of the board of directors of Team San Francisco, and to Stuart Borrie, Director of Sport for Sydney 2002 Gay Games. The award was also given posthumously to Mark Bingham, hero of Flight #93 on September 11, 2001. His mother Alice Hoglan accepted the award.

r_hand.gif GAY GAMES VI PICTURE PAGE l_hand.gif


Gay Games VII
Chicago, Illinois, USA
July 15 to July 22, 2006


Gay Games VII were held in Chicago from July 15 to July 22, 2006. Three other Cities; Atlanta, Montreal, and Los Angeles, also bid to host the seventh of the Gay Games. The Board of the Federation of Gay Games chose the winning City by vote at a New York meeting on March 2, 2004

However, it was officially announced in Sydney at the closing of Gay Games VI that Montreal would host Gay Games VII. Roger Brigham, Director of Communications for the Federation of Gay Games explains the mixup:

The successive financial failures of previous Gay Games hosts, coupled with the worsening world economy post 9/11, convinced the FGG that it needed to oversee the financial administration of the Gay Games and require host cities to get approval for budget expansions. Montreal, after two years of negotiations, walked away from the bargaining table and the FGG re-opened the bid process to the other original bidders: Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. Atlanta opted not to bid; in March of 2004, Chicago was chosen over Los Angeles and signed the license agreement that allows for tighter financial overview. Chicago Games, Inc. is composed of volunteers with two decades of experience organizing LGBT sports events in the Midwest. They worked closely with the FGG's Registration Advisory Group to launch the registration site in record time and have been able to secure some notable venues, including Soldier Field for Opening Ceremonies and Wrigley Field for Closing Ceremonies.

Montreal claims that FGG pulled the plug on them. Apparently the Montreal organization decided to challenge FGG's leadership and compete with Gay Games by staging 1ST WORLD OUTGAMES MONTREAL 2006. The European Gay Lesbian Sport Federation decided to withdraw from FGG and joined forces with Outgames. This strengthened Outgames' position and further weakened FGG. Both events were scheduled for the same week, July 29 to August 5,2006, causing further friction and forcing the athletes to take sides. Fortunately Chicago rescheduled Gay Games VII for July 15 to July 22.

James Ledward, Editor of Gscene Magazine website attended the events in both Chicago and Montreal. He told me that "In Europe there is a view that the Federation Of Gay Games has lost its way. Europeans definitely have a perception the Gay Games has become too US centric and the Gay Games organisers need to work hard at countering that, not in the US but over here in Europe. I was at the European Games in Utrecht last year when the organisers from the Gay Games in Chicago were given a place at the opening Ceremony to give a pitch for the Chicago event. The speaker was booed by a large section of the crowd."

I believe that the directors of both organizations are being self-centered and forgetting the negative effect their quarrel has on the athletes and the entire gay community.

Despite a record heat wave and violent thunder storms, Chicago Games hosted 11,650 participants from 70 countries, drew 140,000 spectators and offered 31 sports: Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Bowling, Cycling, DanceSport, Darts, Diving, Figure Skating, Flag Football, Golf, Ice Hockey, Marathon, Martial Arts, Physique, Pool Billiards, Power Lifting, Racquetball, Road Races 5/10K, Rowing, Rugby, Sailing, Soccer / Football, Softball, Squash, Swimming, Tennis, Track and Field, Triathlon, Volleyball, Water Polo and Wrestling.

Chicago Gay Games was a financial success, the first Gay Games to achieve that goal. They received over $13-million from hundreds of sponsors including many large companies, an airline, national chain stores, liquor companies, and big newspapers. Obviously the business world is finally realizing that there is a lot of money to be made by being gay-friendly. Ceremonies tickets ranged from $35 - $90. Based on pictures I've seen online, there were plenty of unsold seats at both events. Estimated attendance at the Opening Ceremony at Soldier Field (football's Chicago Bears) was 32,000. 20,000 attended the Closing at Wrigley Field (baseball's Chicago Cubs). Results of most events are available at the official Gay Games Chicago website.

Even though Gay Games has become an enormous international sporting event, is now recognized and acknowleged by the US Olympic Committee, and is a lucrative market for big sponsors, most of the world is still unaware of the event. Gay Games are bigger than the (thoroughly covered by the press) Olympics, and more than newsworthy. So why were they not even mentioned on national network news or in newspapers across the country except around Chicago? The not-so-gay-friendly New York Times was a major sponsor of the Games but didn't bother to report the story in their own newspaper. Even in San Francisco, news from Chicago about Gay Games was hard to find. It's like "Don't Ask. Don't Tell." It seems that they're saying "We'll do business with you. We'll even support you, but we can't let the non-gay world find out".

The 1st World Outgames reports a half million spectators and 10,248 people from 111 countries registered to compete in 35 sports. They finished with a $5.7-million ($4.3-million US) deficit and have filed for bankruptcy protection. Their budget was $14-million. Outgames Montreal charged $45 - $150 for their Opening Ceremonies and $35 - $100 for Closing. I have no idea of the significance of their financial problems, their place in the gay sports world, or their politics. If they survive, they will probably continue to be a thorn in the side of the FGG. If they did well in Montreal, and if they flourish, it will be difficult for FGG to ignore them. Reminds me of how the US Olympics people treated Tom Waddell and his Gay Olympic Games.

Plans to hold World Outgames II in Copenhagen in 2009 continue
in spite of the organization's financial crisis.


Gay Games VIII
Cologne, Germany
July 31 to August 7, 2010

"Be Part of It!"

Gay Games VIII will be held in Cologne Germany from July 31 to August 7, 2010. Other bids for the Games came from Johannesburg and Paris. 20 year old Olympic Diver Matthew Mitcham, who won the gold for Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will appear in Cologne at Gay Games but will not compete in the sporting events. There will be 35 sports and 5 cultural events. Registration ends may 31.


Gay Games IX
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
August 9 to August 14, 2014


The Federation of Gay Games has announced that GAY GAMES IX will be held in Cleveland, Ohio USA from August 9 to 16, 2014. The City of Cleveland has contributed One Million Dollars to get the ball rolling. Other cities bidding for the 2014 Games were Boston, Mass. and Washington, D.C.



This page created July 20, 1996 and modified May 1, 2010
• UD Graphics • San Francisco •
Many thanks to Derek Liecty and Roger Brigham of FGG for their guidance.