Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

FGG breaks off talks with GLISA over single LGBT sporting event

The Federation of Gay Games has broken off talks that would have merged the Gay Games with the World Outgames and is launching site selection process for the host of Gay Games XI, to be held in 2022.

“The federation and GLISA have developed a very cordial, positive working relationship over the past four years, which made this decision difficult,” Joanie Evans, co-president of the FGG, said of the end of negotiations with the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association in a federation statement released Thursday, March 3. “But given the due diligence we underwent, we concluded such a venture would be ‘high risk.’ We could not justify the major investment required to launch a new organization now. Doing so would require valuable financial and human resources that could better be spent helping Paris 2018 be the best Gay Games ever.”

(FGG Co-President Joanie Evans)

(FGG Co-President Joanie Evans)

The FGG posted a timeline document on its website ( explaining why the FGG board of directors voted unanimously Sunday, February 28, to terminate talks. The rationale presented closely echoed a Team San Francisco proposal that would have kept the FGG focused on producing the sports-focused Gay Games and invited GLISA to drop its World Outgames and stage human rights conferences as a separate event held in conjunction with the Gay Games (See April 9, 2015 JockTalk,

The FGG statement said risk analysis in recent months of a proposal to create a new organization to run a new, “merged” event made the board reconsider the agreement with GLISA.

“Although our due diligence process revealed that a joint partnership with GLISA would be high risk, it has also shown that we can work together amicably,” the statement said. “Given what is at stake, we continue to invite GLISA to collaborate with the FGG so that together we can use the power and passion of sport and culture to promote LGBT plus human rights around the globe. The FGG continues, as it has for nearly a decade, to extend an open invitation to GLISA to consider becoming a member organization of the FGG General Assembly. Joining the FGG in this way would allow GLISA to maintain its Continental Associations, work with other member organizations to coordinate events in non-Gay Games years, and potentially facilitate a human rights conference for a future Gay Games.”

The Gay Games were founded in 1982 in San Francisco by Dr. Tom Waddell. The quadrennial event thrived without a competitor until Gay Games VII, when the presumptive host, Montreal 2006, walked out of license agreement negotiations and announced it would hold a new rival event, the World Outgames. GLISA was formed to oversee the event and sanction a quadrennial Outgames the year before subsequent Gay Games.

The competing global events were only superficially similar. The Gay Games were heavily focused on sports with cultural events as another component. The FGG and its sports organization members worked in close proximity with host organizations to provide LGBT sports expertise hosts lacked. The World Outgames offer parties and human rights conferences as other major components and leave sports event organization to the hosts.

Since 2007, various talks have been held between the two organizations to create a single global event, but they have been unsuccessful and have increasingly led to the alienation of many longtime Gay Games supporters – including Waddell’s widow, Sara Waddell Lewinstein.

“I am 100 percent opposed to this proposal,” she said after GLISA and the FGG signed a memorandum of understanding last May to create a new organization to oversee a merged event. “The Gay Games have always been about individuals and families being able to participate in sports regardless of their athletic ability. They have not been about conferences. If Tom wanted conferences, he would have put them in. If they go through with this, I want Tom’s name taken off of it. I want our pictures taken off, everything. And I want to see financial statements from each of the Gay Games and from the World Outgames before we talk about adding anything.”

The Waddells’ daughter, Jessica, created an online petition and wrote an Advocate article opposing the proposed merger. Many Gay Games supporters also dropped the FGG from their wills because of concerns negotiations were leading to the loss of the Gay Games mission, with the some of those bequeathals reportedly reaching close to $2 million (See May 28, 2015 JockTalk,

“Since 2012, GLISA has been unwilling or unable to provide current and updated documents or records, despite multiple requests, or agree to an external, third party assessment of both operations,” the FGG statement release this week said. “As a result, the FGG board passed a motion in June 2015 to ensure a risk analysis would be conducted prior to proceeding further with any agreement. Upon receiving and reviewing the full risk analysis summary and recommendation, the FGG Board of Directors voted unanimously on 28 February 2016 to accept the recommendation to cease working toward a partnership with GLISA to develop a One World Event partnership. In making this decision, the FGG Board of Directors recognized that the time had come to rededicate its efforts to help make Paris 2018 a world-class sport and cultural event worthy of the global LGBT+ community, building on the 34-year legacy and vision established in 1982 for the inaugural Gay Games in San Francisco.”

At its 2015 general assembly meeting in Ireland, the board told members that site selection for 2022 was being prepared and potential bidders were being told the name of the event was the Gay Games. But at the time, no one could say what that event would look like or whether it would be run under the FGG model, the GLISA model – or something new entirely. This week’s announcement clarifies that picture.

Bidder inquiries can be sent to The deadline for request for information documents to be submitted is April 15.

– reported by Roger Brigham

— Cynthia Laird, March 3, 2016 @ 12:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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