The Gay Games

A History

By Caroline Symons

© 2010 – Routledge

302 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415688666
pub: 2012-05-01
US Dollars$46.95
Hardback: 9780415472968
pub: 2010-04-20
US Dollars$146.00

About the Book

The Gay Games is an important piece of new social history, examining one of the largest sporting, cultural and human rights events in the world. Since their inception in 1980, the Gay Games have developed into a multi-million dollar mega-event, engaging people from all continents, while the international Gay Games movement has become one of the largest and most significant international institutions for gay and lesbian people. Drawing on detailed archival research, oral history and participant observation techniques, and informed by critical feminist theory and queer theory, this book offers the first comprehensive history of the Gay Games from 1980 through to the Chicago games of 2006. It explores the significance of the Games in the context of broader currents of gay and lesbian history, and addresses a wide range of key contemporary themes within sports studies, including the cultural politics of sport, the politics of difference and identity, and the rise of sporting mega-events. This book is important reading for any serious student of international sport or gender and sexuality studies.


"Caroline Symons remedies this with an impressive history that not only provides an absorbing account of each of the Gay Games from 1982 to 2006, but shows how their stories and tensions can shed light on many of the analytical concerns that have come to the centre of academic scholarship over the same time period. Theories of sexuality, gender, identities, bodies, politics, place, race, masculinity, femininity and many more, are put to work – explicated, complicated, and contested – to help us understand more fully the triumphs and trials of these games." Matthew Klugman, Victoria University

"It is clear that Caroline Symon’s (2010) The Gay Games: A History will be an essential contribution to this field of study. This is not just because of Symon’s exhaustive work on the Gay Games and their participants analyzes individual athletes; but it is also because Symons promotes our understanding of the inter-connectedness between social movements and gay/lesbian athleticism at on an increasingly global scale. This work is crucial for understanding the relationships between identity politics, sport, and sexual minorities; and it is a necessary work." Eric Anderson, University of Bath

"The Gay Games provide an alternative sport setting, showcasing international athletes who are gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual. To synthesize the Gay Games and help readers understand them, Symons (sport and exercise science, Victoria Univ., Australia) shares interviews with those who have participated in and organized the event; she also examined hundreds of documents. The first Gay Games were in 1982, in San Francisco. Symons begins there and goes through the 2006 games (hosted by Chicago), providing the first historical account of the games and exploring their significance in the broader realm of gay and lesbian history. The contemporary issues of politics, doping, and gender play out in the Gay Games as they do elsewhere. Symons discusses these and the tensions and confrontations in the lesbian and gay community, which provide challenges and have a bearing on the future of the games. A valuable resource for those interested in international sport, gender, and sexuality studies. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates; graduate students." M. E. Beagle, Berea College

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Dancing with Tom Waddell 2. "We are Normal": "Challenge in 1982": Gay Games I 3. "We are Healthy": "Triumph in 1986": Gay Games II and the Procession of the Arts 4. Gay Games in Transition: "Celebration 90": Gay Games III and Cultural Festival 5. Going Global: The Internationalization of the Gay Games Movement 6. Big, Brash and Bold: "Unity 94": Gay Games IV and Cultural Festival 7: The Gay Way To Europe and the World: Gay Games V and Cultural Festival 8: "Under New Skies": Gay Games VI and Cultural Festival 9: "Transexed Conundrums" 10: Montreal – No – Chicago! Or Back To Basics: Chicago 2006 and the Split within the International GLBTI Sports Movement Conclusion

About the Author

Caroline Symons in Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Science and the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living at Victoria University, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Sport

The Routledge Critical Studies in Sport series aims to lead the way in developing the multi-disciplinary field of Sport Studies by producing books that are interrogative, interventionist and innovative. By providing theoretically sophisticated and empirically grounded texts, the series will make sense of the changes and challenges facing sport globally. The series aspires to maintain the commitment and promise of the critical paradigm by contributing to a more inclusive and less exploitative culture of sport.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)
SPORTS & RECREATION / Sociology of Sports