U.S. Olympic group heals rift with Gay Games

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 03 2002 11:00 PM ET

After years of ill will between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Gay Games athletic competition, organizers of the gay event and boosters of bringing the Olympics to the San Francisco Bay area in 2012 said Wednesday that they have joined forces to help each other's causes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The goodwill gesture is in part an attempt by the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee to shore up support for its 2012 bid with a constituency still seething over the Gay Games' losing battle to be called the Gay Olympics. The Federation of Gay Games, meanwhile, is in the middle of fund-raising efforts for this November's Gay Games in Sydney as well as future Gay Games.

"We hope by working with Bay Area leaders of the federation that we will be an example for other cities on how to be inclusive and collaborative in bringing the community together to achieve our goals," said Anne Cribbs, CEO of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee.

In 1987 the U.S. Olympic Committee sued Gay Games founder and former Olympian Tom Waddell and the federation over their use of the word Olympics, citing property infringement. The USOC slapped a lien on Waddell's home, even as he fought a losing battle against AIDS. Waddell died after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the USOC. Gay activists upset over Waddell's treatment lobbied then-San Francisco mayor Art Agnos to refrain from attempts to bring the 1996 Olympics to San Francisco, and the city eventually dropped out of the running.

On Wednesday representatives of the Gay Games and the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee gathered on a balcony of the San Francisco Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center and shook hands, exchanged hugs, and heralded a new era of cooperation. "We want to make sure the dark chapter of the past is closed," Cribbs said. "We're not always proud of our past. This isn't an attempt to excuse the mistreatment of Tom Waddell. It's a step in the right direction. We have much work to do to overcome homophobia in sports."