This page is devoted to the concept raised by some for a “merger” of the Gay Games and the World Outgames. The initial posting for this has been received by Roberto Mantaci of Paris, a former co-president of the Federation of Gay Games.
by Roberto Mantaci
I think that measures of success of an event are subjective and obviously some elements of success can be found for ANY event.
The fact that WOG2 had participation figures that some consider satisfactory, perhaps make them a successful event from some people’s perspective. However, the WOG certainly will never make a “success” in the overall history of the LGBT sports movement, where they will remain a sad note of separation and division.
In addition, I am skeptical regarding the concept (as I understand it from Uffe of WOG2) that, if by Copenhagen’s own measures, WOG2 was a successful event, that means that there is a need for it.
Even if there were such a “need”, which has to be proved, a EuroGames would have fulfilled it.
Even less logical seems the implication that, if WOG2 can be considered successful by some standards, then GLISA has something to bring to the table of a possible “merging”.
In business, two companies A and B merge when each of them brings something that the other does not have already. The mere fact that one product of company B was able to attract a share of the market (in fact taking that from the share of products of companies A and C) does not mean that B has something to offer to A.
GLISA as an organization has not much to offer that the FGG as an organization does not have already in terms of history, legacy, experience, expertise, savoir faire, and even a fair list of mistakes that have been integrated as parts of a learning process.
Created as antithesis and a nemesis of the FGG, GLISA has become more and more similar to a paler version of the FGG and hence, to justify the reason of their being, has the dilemma to constantly come up with something to differentiate itself from Gay Games.
The latest is GLISA’s proposal of an event that includes three full- fledged components of sports, culture and human rights. As I understand it, all these components should be organized and funded by the event’s host and all would require a basically identical registration fee from the participants. GLISA even uses for the first time the word “model” when they speak about this (previously, the model seemed to be “there’s no model for the WOG”).
These are however some serious issues I see behind such a model and reasons why I think it would not be wise for the Gay Games to adopt it.
1. Reasons of the inclusion of the human right conference at the WOG are rooted into M2006’s desire to produce a very large multifaceted festival attracting the largest possible number or participants. The Gay Games community, after long and serious reflection, has determined to discourage Gay Games hosts from this approach (see “The Image of the Gay Games” white paper).
2. It is a misconception a bit outdated by now, that if you do not have something explicitely labeled “human rights” then you are not being defending human rights. And I can’t help seeing a part of victim syndrome in that misconception. Just by standing up as openly gay athletes we tear down many stereotypes and make societal changes that lead to progress in the field of human rights.
3. Exactly like the sports component of WOG is a duplication of the Gay Games, the human rights component is a duplication of what several LGBT organizations already do and could do in the field of human rights : HRC, ILGA, GLAF, PFLAG…. The resources in the LGBT community are only so many, and the pink market is only so big. Having a Games host producing a conference of its own is another unnecessary duplication, while a superior result could be accomplished in synergy with those organizations.
4. With a participation fee that applies similarly to all three components of the event, athletic participants basically end up paying for a good part of the conference and more of what the would pay for an athletic experience of equal quality. WOG2 sport registrants could have enjoyed an athletic event of similar size, the EuroGames, for about 1/3 of the registration price of the WOG.
5. It is too much to expect that a Games host bears the burden — in terms of money and other resources — to produce other things in addition to: a properly run sports festival of about 30sports/10,000 participants; the mandatory cultural components of the Gay Games; an Opening ceremony and a Closing event (two large events of their own).
This is also what was identified as one of the main factors for the deficits of some past Gay Games.
FGG Co-President Susan Kennedy, one of those women anyone feels lucky to have met in their lives, used to say : “The definition of craziness is doing exactly the same thing over and over again and expect a different result”. Nothing to add.
6. As far as I know, Gay Games participants have never expressed the desire of a full-fledged human rights component at the Gay Games. To start with, the following statistics would be interesting. How many SPORTS participants of WOG2 took part in some way in activities related to the human rights conference? How many sports participants would NOT have attended WOG2 if they did not offer a human rights conference?
An asset or a can of worm that GLISA brings to the “merging” table ?
Perhaps the point is that “merging” is the wrong word.
I think Uffe and I can certainly agree that there are INDIVIDUALS involved with GLISA and the WOG who can bring a lot to the table of LGBT sports. I am pretty sure that is true, although for several of these individuals we do not know precisely the past involvement for the LGBT sports movement. But certainly, what several of them have done and do, would have been better directed towards building up a united LGBT sports movement.
I think that those who have knowledge and services to offer to the global LGBT sports movement should immediately join the FGG, where they would be most welcome as they would always have been. There are many ways to do so, at several levels of the structure of the organization, either individually or via one’s respective organization.
None of the individuals involved with GLISA or the WOG could claim that the doors of the FGG have been closed to them, or that they “left” the FGG. That is why “reunite” or “come together again” do not make much more sense than “merging”.
Human rights are the perfect example where some of these individuals could get involved and serve the movement. ILGA is one of the main, if not THE main, LGBT human rights organization. They organize this kind of events. FGG is a member of ILGA and as such will have a seat at the ILGA table.
There is a perfect opportunity for someone really committed to the best of LGBT sports and to having a human right component at the Gay Games, to establish a mutually profitable partnership with ILGA and ideally have an event jointly sponsored by ILGA, FGG and the GG-Host, during the Gay Games of Cologne and in the future. That would be an optimization of global LGBT resources creating synergy, versus a situation of mutual competition.
Yes, that requires a lot of work, but that’s also how the FGG has become what is today, through countless hours of volunteer work.
I am sure that a lot of people would support that kind of merging into a united Gay Games movement.
Roberto Mantaci, former Co-President of the Federation of Gay Games, 2001-2006, Honorary Life Member of the Federation of Gay Games