The past year marked a watershed for LGBT sports. Athletes at every level — professional, college, high school and amateur — at first ventured, then flooded, out of the closet. Media attention no longer treats gay athletes as exotic creatures, all but unheard of in the real world; stories now focus on more nuanced aspects of their lives. Homophobes are increasingly marginalized, banished from the sidelines to the back row of the bleachers.
In some ways (though we’re still waiting for that first huge-name pro male team-sport athlete to come out), LGBT athletics has reached the point we’ve long waited for: normalcy.
So does that mean there’s no longer any need for the Gay Games?
Thousands of athletes, a hefty lineup of corporate sponsors, and hundreds of paid and volunteer organizers insist there is.
The next edition of the event first held 32 years ago in San Francisco, Gay Games 9, opens at the end of this week, running for nine days from Aug. 9-16 in the Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, area. Patterned on the Olympic Games (but denied use of the “O” word by a legal challenge), the Gay Games are now an international spectacle.