Sports bring people and communities together and create social cohesion. It’s no different in Gay Games. The only difference is, GGHK is designed to show the world that LGBTQ people are out, proud, and eager to participate and compete! Not only in sports, but every walk of life.
Influenced by the larger politics of heteropatriarchal ideology, the field of sports has often been associated with glorifying cis men. However, there is hope in that change in history is influenced by what we do in the present. This piece is about people who challenged these notions of gender in their chosen sporting professions in recent times.
The establishment of the Gay Games (also referred to as the ‘Gay Olympics’) in 1982 was a response to decades of marginalisation of the LGBTQ+ community within sports. In an inspiring act of defiance and liberation, athlete Tom Wadell, who was gay himself, came up with the idea of the Gay Olympics that would be held every four years, similar to the modern Olympic Games.
We cannot do Pride walks in Manipur. In midst of conversations around religion, AFSPA, human rights and other concerns – queer issues are sidelined. So, we have been using sports. Through sports, we hope people accept our identities.
Sportspersons with marginalized, non-masculine bodies and behaviours are then subject to scrutiny and disrespect, and are undermined. If I had a paisa for each time I have heard, “Why are you throwing like a girl, da?” from male classmates, my wealth would have rivalled that of Ambani's.
In recent years, queerphobes have dismissed the inclusion of transgender youth in athletics as part of their dismissal of trans rights, and therefore, human rights. Transgender student-athletes are likely to feel motivated to play sports the same way as any other participant, but in many states in the US (as in most parts of the world), they are refused the right to do so or can only do so only after meeting multiple intrusive, medicalized requirements, which further ostracization and exclusion.
The film gracefully traces the life of Parinya Charoenphol – the world's first trans woman Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) fighter. Popularly nicknamed Nong Toom, Parinya is one of the most controversial figures to emerge from Thailand and from the overall realm of international sports.
The initiative has introduced an ambassador program with four athletes, all aiming to participate in Birmingham 2022; they are Indian sprinter, Dutee Chand, Jamaican swimmer Michael Gunning, Scottish wheelchair basketball player, Robyn Love, and English race walker Tom Bosworth.