Gay Games open in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ceremonies opening the first international Gay Games drew 1,300 athletes from around the world Saturday amid a $30,000 scrap heap of souvenirs bearing a forbidden Gay Olympic Games logo.

With bands playing, flags flying and rock 'n roll music from Tina Turner, the festive ceremonies at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park marked the beginning of the nine-day homosexual sports competition.


Organizers said they suffered a stinging financial blow Friday when the court forbid the event's months-long billing as the Gay Olympic Games.

Thousands of dollars in souvenirs, buttons, T-shirts and other paraphernalia, already printed with the forbidden name, had to be changed or tossed. One Gay Games board member estimated the loss at $30,000.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied their request for an emergency order allowing the use of the word 'Olympic.'

The U.S. Olympic Committee had claimed exclusive control of the word. Sponsors vowed to continue the battle, even if it meant going to trial.

Athletes from 28 states and 10 countries marched in a opening day parade as several thousand spectators cheered.

Attorney Mary Dunlap, representing Gay Game sponsors, charged the Olympic Committee with 'a specific discriminatory motive and intent ... animosity and ill will directed against gay-lesbian persons.'


Nevertheless, she said, 'The most important thing is that the games are going to be a great success.'

Game Director Dr. Tom Waddell, who finished sixth in the decathlon at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, said he hoped the gathering of homosexual athletes would help erase the effeminate stereotype of gay men.

The first competition of the games, which have some heterosexual entrants, begins at 8 a.m. Sunday at the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park.

Athletes and organizers alike said the spirit of the games was that of community -- gay, international, pan-cultural, pan-sexual, with 40 percent of the participants being women and some of the games involving co-ed teams.

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