Sunday, October 28, 2007

Got Games

So, obviously, I didn't get any good pictures, being a little busy at the time, but the Gay Games 25th Anniversary Legacy Dinner, held at UCSF's Mission Bay Conference Center, was absolutely wonderful. What a rush. I knew and admired so many people.

We got there a little late (due to a slight fashion emergency), but made it there as the reception was going full tilt. I didn't even have a moment to check out the silent auction items before Johnny Almony bestowed a gargantuan carnation lie upon me. Lots of hugs hello and congratulations, as I was one of four awardees at the silver anniversary of the Gay Games.

As a certain other Canadian GLBT sports event still lays mired in a nefarious bankruptcy fiasco, the real Gay Games and its stalwart organizers through the years celebrated two and a half decades of personal bests.

Sitting at my table of friends and mentors, with others nearby, we enjoyed our dinners amid the tasteful centerpieces. Speeches were made, a wonderful slide show of Gay Games images through the years kept us all smiling. Honorees included David Kopay, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation, and me.

Wait a minute. Did someone make a mistake? I guess not.

Before I knew it, former Olympic swimmer Bruce Hayes was making a witty, earnest presentation for my Media Award from the Federation, the first of its kind. Not only in appreciation of my ten years of writing Sports Complex, my Bay Area Reporter column (also syndicated from 2004-2006), the FGG also congratulated me on the Sporting Life exhibit.

I hadn't prepared a speech, and maybe that was okay. I think I said what I felt (although I forgot to mention Mike Salinas, who asked me to do the column 11 years ago), got to mention a few people who meant something, from Gene Dermody, my old pal, and the spirit behind the Golden Gate Wrestling Club, but the SF Track & Field Club, where Giampiero Mancinelli taught me how to throw a javelin.

Why did that mean so much? Because not only did I get to, as I said, "probably interview half the people in the room" over the years, but I also got to be a participant, and a medalist in wrestling and track and field.

I mentioned one guy, who served as my muse during the creation of the Sporting Life exhibit. So many times, a new bit of information turned up about him.

In 1982,as Cyndi Lauper once sang, "in the pages of a Blueboy Magazine," I saw an article about the Gay "Olympic" Games. Included in the article was a photo of a cute, short blond guy about to toss a javelin. Doug Kimball was just one of those handsome popular guys in San Francisco; everybody liked him. He competed in the decathlon at the first Games, held at Cox Stadium, at San Francisco State.

I remember, at that young age, seeing his picture, and wishing I could go to San Francisco and be a part of that.

It took twenty years. Doug died of AIDS in 1986. But I tried to keep his memory alive, with a few pictures of him incorporated into the exhibit, particularly a wonderful nude image of him balancing a basketball. Doug was just one of so many hundreds, thousands lost to AIDS, a man I wish I'd been able to meet.

Instead, at least I'm able to keep his memory alive. Doug was just a guy playing sports - and the French horn- but he was one of those heroes, making his mark at that first Gay Games.

Last summer, when I tossed the javelin at the SF Track & Field Club's first fully sanctioned meet, held at Cox Stadium, the same field where Doug, Tom Waddell, and dozens of others competed at the very first Gay Games (and where I got my MA diploma in Creative Writing at SFSU ten years ago, in full cap and gown), I won a silver medal. Maybe it was a bronze. I forget. I won three others. Sure, I was the lowest ranked in the entire competition, and only won because there were so few guys in my age group. But still, I felt close to Doug, and his memory.

UPDATE: Here's the BAR's new sports columnist, Roger Brigham, on the event (with a good pic of me, my lei, and Bruce Hayes), and FGG updates.