The first Gay Olympics

When the first Gay Games were held in San Francisco in 1982, there were very few outlets for openly LGBTQ+ athletes, other than bowling alleys and billiards leagues associated with gay bars. What's more, popular stereotypes denied the athletes' very existence.

“You were either a drag queen or in the leather community—those were the stereotypes that were presented to the public at that time,” says Rick Thoman, a track and field athlete who competed in the first Gay Games. “They never thought that we were able to be athletic and be gay at the same time (Wood, 2021).”

The first Gay Games turned out to be a smashing success, leading to a boom in gay sports leagues throughout America and helping to pave the way for increased recognition for LGBTQ+ athletes.

Featured Content

Learn about the first Gay Games and how the tradition has continued, with the games being held every 4 years since 1982, in this engaging article.

Why the First Gay Olympics Was a Watershed Moment in Sports


Wood, Stephen. (2021, August 27). Why the first gay olympics was a watershed moment in sports. History.

Gender Identity Gender identity icon Our core sense of who we are as a man, a woman, a mixture of both, or neither.

Gender Expression Gender expression icon How we show up in the world through choices like clothing, hair style, mannerisms or tone of voice.

Attraction attraction icon How we feel toward others sexually, romantically and/or emotionally.

Biological Sex Biological sex icon Physical attributes such as reproductive organs and genitalia, chromosomes, genes and hormone levels.

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