The creation of the Gay Games and other gay and lesbian sporting events have provided a space for gay and lesbian athletes to participate in sports, free from the discrimination experienced in mainstream sport. The Gay Games in particular is the largest sporting and cultural event organised by and for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community, and is open to all skill levels, genders and sexual orientations. While the Gay Games are based on participatory discourses, the level of competition in some events at the Gay Games is relatively high for a participation based event. Consequently, recreational level athletes are able to participate in a higher level of competition than they normally would in regular club competitions. An analysis of the experiences of lesbian identified players from a recreational level women’s field hockey club in Australia and their Gay Games participation has revealed several positive outcomes for these athletes. Through participation at the Gay Games, these women have the opportunity to compete with and against players from other countries and sometimes at a higher level of competition than they would regularly engage in, have formed new friendships and developed closer bonds with teammates in a homophobia free space, and experienced a sense of personal empowerment. This paper will draw on interview and sociological material in order to explore the experiences of these women in relation to these themes, and their participation at the Gay Games.
|Keywords:||Gay Games, Field Hockey, Lesbian Athlete, Personal Empowerment|
Lecturer, School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia