Reprinted with permission (www.ebar.com)
As we sit sidelined one dreary rained out afternoon after another, our playing fields stretched out submerged and soaked before us, Bay Area LGBT athletes need something to entertain our minds.
Might I recommend a rather academic book that takes a look at the things we do when we do the things we do? The Gay Games: A history, by Caroline Symons, is a scholarly text examining the quarter-century history of the Gay Games through 2006 that shows the event in its context as mover and movee in sports, social, cultural, and political worlds.
Like any good history, it offers dramatic tensions and furious battles and, after tantalizing with a number of possible bright or gloomy outcomes, leaves the future an undiscovered country waiting to be tackled.
Symons, a senior lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Science and the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living at Victoria University, Australia, conducted dozens of interviews with participants and organizers and examined hundreds of documents, synthesizing her work in chronological and thematic order. The book is an expansion of her doctoral thesis published last year, which was dedicated to her life partner, Jenny Bonney.
In her introduction, she calls recent Gay Games the world's "largest international participatory lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex event," then follows as the mission to demolish homophobic barriers through sports participation grows ever larger. Emerging splinters in queer community and politics play out in disagreements on how best to build an inclusive playing field in a sports world built largely on exclusive power hierarchies. The dueling roles of the event in changing perceptions in inward, personal directions and outward, public perceptions are examined as is the seemingly oxymoronic effort to bring inclusive unity to diverse expression.