Gay Games: Slogans & soap

[Article refused for the Gay Games Amsterdam Memorial Book, but XL – a gay magazine – did want to publish it.]

“FRIENDSHIP THROUGH Culture and Sports” – no matter how hard I try, I simply don’t get the Gay Games motto.

For one, you’d expect a slightly more prominent place for the ‘sports’ bit in a sports event. ‘Medals through sports’, ‘Fame through sports’, and similar slogans would perhaps have been more to the point. And yes, of course new friendships will be welded, affairs will be budding and chances are that there will be one-night-stands aplenty (now that would have made an interesting field of competition for games based on sexual preference; the prize could have been a golden dildo, a platinum condom case or a silver KY dispenser; ah, such assets for one’s bedside table!), but in general, the belief that sports stimulate peace, love and understanding seems a tad naive. A couple of French cities recently bore a horrifying resemblance to war zones after the soccer fans hit them, and the latent resentment that the Dutch carry against the Germans never fails to become painfully overt the moment that their respective national teams compete.

Besides, I hate it whenever organizations start promoting ‘friendship’. Putting it in folders and on banners turns what is basically a good concept into something unbearably tacky, and fills my head with an avalanche of despicable associations. Paul McCartney / Michael Jackson songs sung by kd lang or George Michael. Workers of the world uniting. World leaders kissing or stroking the heads of children kept in hostage. Yech.

So I’d rather be damned than buy any of the Gay Games merchandise. I’d feel like a softie wearing a tee or swimming suit that proudly announces this wacko slogan. And no thanks, I don’t want to buy merchandised soap either. Soap carrying slogans! Somebody must have been really desperate.

Besides, I don’t like doing sports either. There’s only one physically exhausting activity that I gleefully engage in, and although it does involve quite some bending & stretching, pushing & pulling, sweating & swearing, it’s not usually referred to as a sport. (But I bet it would attract a captive audience.) ((And yes, I delay washing afterwards for as long as I can. I like the smell of sex.)) (((So get thee behind me, Satan, with thy merchandised soap.)))

I NEVER GOT the gist of the Gay Games. They are neither gay, since straight people are invited to participate as well, nor are the matches serious: any amateur can register. There is no such thing as a gay sport or a gay way of playing tennis. The only obstacle for gay people to participate in regular sports is not the sport itself, it’s in the culture surrounding it; and any gay sports lover with a minimum amount of fantasy fan can turn spectatorship into a queer activity, provided that the players look attractive enough, roll their muscles, let their skirts jump, wear tight shorts and show their knickers.

Thus, all my hopes were invested in the cultural program. I remember a couple of rather interesting parties that were thrown in 1994, when Amsterdam was Gay Capital of Europe; especially the mixed party at the Melkweg was memorable enough for me to find myself starting the next day having to deal with a jealous lover and a pair of leather trousers that were somehow smudged with day-glow body paint, and I was looking forward to a reprise of those parties – minus the jealousy, of course, but that part I’d already taken care of: the lover who now graces my life is even more allergic to jealousy than I am. As a matter of fact, I was looking forward to the both of us hunting the scene.

That is, until I received the program and scanned it for the cultural section. The entrance fees are Olympic. Almost all tickets sell at fifty guilders or more, which is rather outrageous. Friendship does seem to have a prize, here.


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