collared athletes

How Many Of The Gay Games’ 10,000 Athletes Are Using Fake Names?

Powered by article was written by Kate Connolly in Berlin, for on Friday 30th July 2010 16.45 UTC

Around 10,000 gay and lesbian athletes from around the globe are expected to descend on the western German city of Cologne tomorrow to participate in the international Gay Games.

Entrants from more than 70 countries are due to take part in an eclectic mix of events including football, transgender ballroom dancing and cheerleading. A cultural programme includes art exhibitions, choir concerts and film screenings.

Many of the participants have adopted false identities because of fears that they will be persecuted on their return home.

“We want to demonstrate that the exclusion of gays and lesbians, especially in the sporting world, has to end,” said Thorsten Moeck, of the organisation committee.

“Among the represented countries are plenty in which it’s still an absolute taboo to out yourself.”

While most participants come from Germany and the US, the list of countries represented will also include Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Zimbabwe.

Moeck said for many, including Mexico’s gay soccer team, whose identities have been deliberately kept secret, it would be a “unique opportunity” to be surrounded by fellow gays and lesbians.

Eastern European sportsmen and women, from countries where discrimination is more or less systematic, have this year been invited to the event for free.

The Gay Games first started in San Francisco in 1982 and takes place every four years. Its founding father was the openly gay decathlete Tom Waddell, who died of Aids in 1987.

This year’s host city is home to Europe’s largest gay and lesbian sport club, SC Janus.

The Australian Olympic gymnast Matthew Mitcham, who won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and is one of the few major athletes to have ever come out, will open the event.

“This event brings gay and lesbian life onto the soccer pitch, the athletics track and into the swimming pool,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for all gays and lesbians to show the world that as a community we’re not a bunch of stereotypes.”

The event has been overshadowed by events at last week’s Love Parade festival, in the nearby city of Duisburg, in which 21 people were trampled to death and which has led to calls for tighter safety procedures at large-scale events in Germany. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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  • L.

    I’m genuinely puzzled: how useful could it be to use aliases for protection in events that could easily be recorded/photographed? I mean – an entire football team, for instance?

  • AlanInS.L.UT

    Mathew Mitchum is not a gymnast, he is a diver. He did gymnastic growing up though, which is where he got his diving background experience from. He is the 10m Platform Diving champion, not a gymastics champ.


    Mathew Mitchum is adorable and his reaction when he won the Gold was absolutley priceless………He is openly Gay and has gotten a decent amount of endorsements since doing so…….Kinda sorta blows the argument that if ya are an openly Gay athlete you are destined to never get any commercial success right out of the water (in his case literaly! :-p)

  • PopSnap

    I dunno but I’ve never been so glad to live in Cleveland before in my life!

  • randy

    How many of the athletes are really gay?

  • TampaZeke

    Lumping Mexico in with Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe is crazy. It’s no more dangerous to be gay in homophobic parts of Mexico than it is to be gay in homophobic parts of the US. I might add, Mexico’s capital city has marriage equality and had it over a year before our capital city. Hardly comparable in ANY way to the other homophobic countries listed.

  • Zory

    I’d rather be openly gay in Mexico than in Mississippi.

  • redd

    I’m sorry, but I feel that you should be required to use your real name if you are going to compete in the GAY GAMES… I mean really?

    We all say how gay athletes should be out and proud to make a point, but then allow gay men and women to hide in the gay games… way to be proud…

  • Gareth

    Randy – would have thought (my own personal opinion) that the vast majority of competitors were gay….agree theres prob a small number who are not though!

  • Xen

    REDD – While ideally all Gay Games athletes should be out and proud, the harsh reality is that in some countries and/or cultures, gayness is a death sentence. Maybe you’re not old enough to remember how things were here in USA pre-Stonewall riots.

  • Phipsidude

    Remind me of the necessity of the Gay Games? It represents “otherness” and being lesser than the the general Games. I’m all about fun, but are these people serious? I’d rather out run/jump/fight/swim etc. the general top athletes to gain respect. Am I wrong?

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