Gay Games 2023 – now to be co-hosted by Hong Kong and Guadalajara
There’s been rumblings and uncertainties for some time now about the Gay Games planned for Hong Kong. Obviously, the global pandemic made planning difficult, but there seemed to be some fundamental logistical challenges to staging a major multi-sport event in a city such as Hong Kong – for a start, there didn’t seem to be enough football fields.
However, the FGG – the organising body of the Gay Games – seemed fully committed to making it happen, the prize of staging the first Gay Games in Asia too good to pass up.
But the recent announcement that Guadalajara will be co-hosting the 11th Gay Games looks like the Plan B solution that the FGG had been looking for.
Guadalajara is in Mexico. That’s a long way from Hong Kong. It takes a bit to get your head around how this can be described as a co-hosted event when the host cities are on opposite sides of the world.
The reality seems to be that by effectively splitting the event, the FGG gets to deliver on its promise of holding the Gay Games in Asia, while ensuring that it will be able to offer the full range of events that you’d expect to see at a competition of this size.
The downside is that you’re losing a lot of the magic that happens when you bring 10,000 LGBTQ sportspeople together in one place. Whether you’re competing in Hong Kong or Guadalajara, the 2023 event will inevitably feel diminished.
Has this kind of thing happened before?
In the history of the Gay Games, there’s only been one occasion where there’s been drama with the host city.
Gay Games 7 was held in 2006. During the bidding process for that event – which was completed in 2001 – Montreal was selected as the host city. Montreal didn’t sign the contract put forward by the governing body of the Gay Games.
Relations between the Montreal organising committee and the governing body of the Gay Games deteriorated, and in 2003 the Gay Games withdrew the rights to the event from Montreal.
The event was transferred to Chicago – the runner-up during the bidding process – and the event went ahead in 2006.
Montreal held a competing event in 2006, called the OutGames.
What is the Gay Games?
The Hong Kong/Guadalajara event in 2023 will be the eleventh edition of the Gay Games. The Gay Games is an event run by an organisation called the Federation of Gay Games (FGG).
It’s worth re-capping the history of the Gay Games.
When was the first Gay Games held?
The first major international multi-sport event for LGBTQ athletes was the Gay Olympics – the brainchild of Tom Waddell - held in San Francisco in 1982. Following legal action by the International Olympic Committee, subsequent events were known as the Gay Games.
Where have the Gay Games been held?
- 1982: San Francisco
- 1986: San Francisco
- 1990: Vancouver
- 1994: New York
- 1998: Amsterdam
- 2002: Sydney
- 2006: Chicago
- 2010: Cologne
- 2014: Cleveland
- 2018: Paris
- 2023: Originally planned for 2022, the Gay Games will be held in Hong Kong with Guadalajara (Mexico) joining as co-host.
- 2026: The games will be held in Valencia.
What is GLISA?
GLISA – The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association – was an organisation that emerged in 2003. The emergence of GLISA was a result of the schism between Montreal and the Federation of Gay Games, when Montreal’s licence to stage the 2006 Gay Games was revoked.
The Montreal organising committee staged the first World Outgames in Montreal in 2006, and GLISA was formed to coordinate future events.
Subsequent World Outgames events were held in 2009 in Copenhagen, and in 2013 in Antwerp.
The World Outgames were scheduled to be held in Miami Beach in 2017, however on the day that the event was scheduled to commence, organisers announced that it had been cancelled.
The failure of the World Outgames in Miami Beach appears to have been the end of GLISA.
What is EGLSF?
Another organisation in the mix is the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF). They host major multi-sport events in years when there are no Gay Games or World Out Games planned. The history of these events is:
- 1992: The Hague
- 1993: The Hague
- 1995: Frankfurt
- 1996: Berlin
- 1997: Paris
- 2000: Zurich
- 2001: Hanover
- 2003: Copenhagen
- 2004: Munich
- 2005: Utrecht
- 2007: Antwerp
- 2008: Barcelona
- 2011: Rotterdam
- 2012: Budapest
- 2015: Stockholm
- 2016: Helsinki
- 2019: Rome
- 2020: The Eurogames were scheduled to be held in Dusseldorf, however they were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- 2021: Copenhagen.
- 2022: The games will be held in Nijmegen
- 2023: The games will be held in Bern
Do we still need events such as the Gay Games?
The world today is clearly very different from 1982 - there is now a huge international network of LGBTQ sports clubs, professional athletes are slowly starting to emerge from the closet, and there is increasing support from sport governing bodies to support and encourage LGBTQ participation. Is there still a need for events such as the Gay Games? Time will tell.