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Local athletes excited for Paris Gay Games

Quadrennial competition kicks off next month

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Team DC, Cleveland Gay Games, gay news, Washington Blade
Paris Gay Games, Team DC, Cleveland Gay Games, gay news, Washington Blade

The last Gay Games was held in Cleveland; this year, athletes are headed to Paris. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In three weeks, athletes from D.C. will take on competitors from around the world at the 10th edition of the Gay Games in Paris.

The Gay Games are held every four years and the venues in Paris will host 12,000 athletes from more than 80 countries who will compete in 36 sports.

Local athletes from multiple sports will march in the opening ceremonies together under the D.C. banner in a uniform that was organized by Team DC.

John Guzman is slated to compete in his third Gay Games and is embracing a new sport in Paris. Previously, he competed in soccer and squash. He is now a member of Lambda Links and will be golfing individually along with playing in the team event with his partner, Steve Sparks.

“The Ryder Cup is being held in Paris in September and the golf superintendent is gay. He is opening the course to all the Gay Games participants after our competition is over. I am so geeked out to play on that course,” says Guzman. “Our community has multiple things that tie us together and I love that the Gay Games offers commonalities that can be built in other ways.”

The water polo competition will include 32 teams competing in two divisions. Kris Pritchard will be attending his second Gay Games with his teammates from the Washington Wetskins.

“Now more than ever, this event is an opportunity for the LGBT community to show the world what it means to put aside the differences our countries might have,” Pritchard says. “It’s going to be an amazing week and I tip my hat to the volunteers and organizers who are involved to make this happen.”

David Monroe will travel to Paris with players from the DC Sentinels basketball team. Members from their squads have medaled in the last two Gay Games.

“I was at the Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998 and Chicago in 2006. I look forward to seeing how the gay community is still coming together for inclusive competition and fun,” says Monroe. “It will be a great 10 days.”

The triathlon in Paris will be contested in the sprint distance and Olympic distance. Bryan Frank from TriOut will be competing in his second Gay Games.

“It will be exciting to take on an Olympic distance triathlon outside of Paris and defend my title after winning the race in Cleveland four years ago,” Frank says. “I am also thrilled at the prospect of exploring more of the Games, seeing other events, meeting athletes and experiencing Paris.”

This will be the third Gay Games for Federal Triangles Soccer Club player Jim Ensor after competing in Cologne in 2010 and Cleveland in 2014.

“I look forward to the competition and camaraderie of an international competition. It’s such a delicate balance to compete in friendship.” Says Ensor. “I love seeing how the Games are incorporated into the city and surrounding areas along with how it is received by the city.”

Mick Bullock and his partner Justin Fritscher will be tackling their first Gay Games as members of the DC Front Runners. Both will compete in the 5K and the half marathon.

“We do everything together and running is one of our passions. We are excited to see Europe for the first time and be with over 20 of our teammates from DC Front Runners,” Bullock says. “The Gay Games are a great opportunity to come together for healthy competition and meet athletes from all over the world.”

At the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland, Logan Dawson competed with the Denver team in swimming. After moving to D.C., he joined the District of Columbia Aquatics Club in late 2017. His second Gay Games will be with his new teammates.

“I have bonded with my DCAC teammates and would feel like I was missing out if I wasn’t going with them to Paris,” says Dawson. “It’s neat to be at a sports event that is more than a swim meet and I look forward to meeting international athletes from other sports.”

Tim Murphy married Chris Walsh last month and both of them will be competing in their first Gay Games. They are members of Capital Tennis Association and will be playing singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

“We are looking forward to meeting people who have come from all over the world to play sports. It will be great to represent our country in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremonies,” Murphy says. “This is going to be part sports event and part honeymoon for us.”

Gay Games X: Paris 2018 will be held from Aug. 4-11.

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Sports

DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records

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The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

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Politics

Caitlyn Jenner celebrates FINA ban on Trans swimmers on Twitter

“[…] what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted

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Screenshot/YouTube Fox News

Former Olympian and one-time California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner enraged Trans activists Monday after she tweeted her approval of the FINA vote Sunday that essentially bans Trans women from participating and competing as collegiate swimmers.

“It worked! I took a lot of heat – but what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted Sunday after the international athletic organization announced its vote to ban trans athletes.

The Swimming’s world governing body voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

Jenner’s appearances on the Fox News Network over the past six months have been unrelenting attacks on Trans athletes, especially University of Pennsylvania Women’s Team swimmer Lia Thomas. Jenner also appeared on the network to defend her attacks on Trans athletes.

“We must protect women’s sports. We cannot bow down to the radical left wing woke world and the radical politically charged agenda of identity politics,” Jenner tweeted. In another tweet she said;

“Thank you @seanhannity and @HeyTammyBruce for having a conversation grounded in common sense. All we want to do is protect women’s and girls sports! It’s that simple. And calling out the libelous, defamatory lies of @PinkNews and @emilychudy@benjamincohen

Jenner has been asked about her position on the multiple pieces of anti-Trans youth sports legislation across the United States. She responded that she saw it as a question of fairness saying that she opposed biological boys who are Trans- competing in girls’ sports in school.

“It just isn’t fair,” Jenner said adding, “and we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.”

In April the Fox network hired Jenner as on-air contributor role with her first appearance on Hannity.

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Sports

World swimming body FINA votes to ban Trans athletes

Says policy necessary because of ‘biological performance gap’

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FINA's president, Husain Al-Musallam, announcing the new policy Sunday in Budapest (Screenshot/YouTube 10 News First)

The Swimming’s world governing body FINA meeting in the Hungarian capital city voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

Enactment of that requirement effectively eliminates trans women’s eligibility to compete in the women’s category.

Tanner Stages describe the physical changes people undergo during puberty.

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

“Without eligibility standards based on biological sex or sex-linked traits, we are very unlikely to see biological females in finals, on podiums, or in championship positions; and in sports and events involving collisions and projectiles, biological female athletes would be at greater risk of injury,” the statement from FINA’s new policy read.

Athlete Ally, which advocates for Trans athletes responded:

“FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations is deeply discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 International Olympic Committee framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally.

“This sudden and discriminatory decision is a blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to participate for years without issue,” said Joni Madison, Human Rights Campaign Interim President. “This policy is an example of swimming organizations caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer. We urge the FINA to rethink its policy and ensure inclusion for all athletes — including transgender women – and allow them to participate in sports free from discrimination, abuse and harassment.

“To the young athletes who may be disheartened by this policy, know that we know and believe that every young person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and that transgender kids, like their friends, deserve the same chances to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline, and teamwork, and to build a sense of belonging with their peers,” Madison added.

Swimming Body FINA Votes To Segregate Trans Athletes | 10 News First:

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