Revolution #55, July 30, 2006
Gay Games in Chicago
For a week, starting on July 15, over 12,000 athletes and an estimated 60,000 spectators gathered in Chicago from over 70 countries for the 7th Gay Games Sports and Cultural Festival. Among the prominent supporters of the events were former NFL defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo, champion diver Greg Louganis, and tennis champion Billie Jean King.
Participants talked enthusiastically about both the high level of competition at the Games’ 30 different events and about the warm and welcoming atmosphere that surrounded the whole experience. Sean Burns talked to Revolution as he prepared to compete for a gold medal in doubles tennis: “Particularly for men, in sports, the assumption is that we couldn’t possibly be gay and be strong, and be athletic. This is an opportunity in a great environment to just dispel that myth and again to be able to express ourselves athletically.” Sean said, “The fact is any sport, say college athletics, it’s the 'Straight Games.'” He added, “We are guests at those games. We are not invited to be who we are. We are invited to participate as long as we don’t talk about it and we don’t demonstrate who we are. In this instance, we get to be who we are. These are the Gay Games! Everyone gets to stand up and say 'This is who I am. I’m not embarrassed, I’m not ashamed. And everyone who comes to watch these games, with the exception of an unbelievably minute minority, are supportive of who we are.'”
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