Blog post

The Gay Games

Friendship through Culture and Sports

colour photograph of a silver medal with pink and yellow ribbon on which is word 'Friendship'
Adrian Murphy (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

Every four years, a sport and cultural tournament is held which brings together athletes from around the world to promote acceptance of sexual diversity.

colour photograph of a large crowd of people in centre of a stadium

The Gay Games are open to all who with to participate, and feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) athletes, artists and more.

colour photograph of person flexing bicep on which a tattoo says Gay Games 1999 Amsterdam

Founded in the United States in the 1980s, the Gay Games have been held in Europe three times - in Amsterdam in 1998, in Cologne in 2010 and in Paris in 2018.

yellow poster with red text Gay Games Amsterdam 1998 and Friendship through Culture and Sports with an illustration of a tulip and pink triangle
close-up colour photograph of a sport shirt with words VIII gay games cologne 2010

The first Gay Games took place in San Francisco in 1982. The Games, as envisioned by Olympian Tom Waddell, were originally intended to be called The Gay Olympics.

However, the International Olympic Committee sued the organisation over the use of the word 'Olympics' and - just 19 days before the competition was due to begin - the name was changed to the 'Gay Games'.

black and white photograph of a man standing by a framed poster hanging on a wall

The fifth Gay Games took place in Amsterdam - the first in Europe - in August 1998, with the opening and closing ceremonies at the Amsterdam Arena (now called the Johan Cruyff Arena).

grey and yellow cap with words 'Gay Games Amsterdam 1998'
bright yellow blazer on a coat hanger
wrinkled white poloshirt with black tulip and triangle symbol

Around 15,000 participants took part in 29 different sports, with the event held under the motto 'Friendship through Culture and Sports'. Alongside the sporting competitions, a cultural event programme was also held.

yellow and pink flyer for a photo exhibition and storytelling festival at Gay Games Amsterdam 1998
red coloured flyer for events during the Amsterdam Gay Games
orange poster with two very small naked human figures in the centre

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This blog is part of the Europeana Sport project which showcases cultural treasures relating to sporting heritage in Europe.