By John Quinn
DETROIT – Jim Brown wears many hats, most visibly the Stetson. But one might expect that on the owner of Detroit’s LGBT country and western bar, Diamond Jim’s Saloon.
Away from the bar, though, he’s frequently found in the ring of International Gay Rodeo Association events, riding broncs and bulls or wrestling a steer or two. The latter may have been good practice for his upcoming challenge – wrestling at Gay Games VII in Chicago, which opens July 15. Two weeks later, he’ll head east to try his skills at the Outgames in Montreal.
Brown is no newbie to either wrestling or to the Games. He wrestled as a senior in high school and continued his career at University of Michigan and later at University of Southern California. He represented Los Angeles at the 1990 Gay Games in Vancouver, competing both in wrestling and flag football. Not resting on his laurels, he wrestled again in 1994 at Gay Games V in New York.
Being involved in the Games for such a long time, Brown remembers the early, less organized days – like the Vancouver games, when wrestlers borrowed mats from a Catholic high school for the competition. When the mats were returned, neat and scrubbed, the priest representing the athletic department saw Brown wearing a silver medal. “You won that? For wrestling?” the inquisitive priest inquired.
Brown said yes, and an impressed priest became one more believer in the Gay Games.
Regardless of the gradually evolving acceptance of LGBT athletes in Olympic competition, Brown thinks the Gay Games are still relevant. The Games are open to everyone, and offer competition at varying levels, from recreational to master categories.
Dr. Tom Waddell, 1968 Olympic decathlete, founded the Games primarily to showcase LGBT sport. “We need to discover more about the process of our sexual liberation and apply it meaningfully to other forms of liberation,” Waddell wrote. “The Gay Games are not separatist, they are not exclusive, they are not oriented to victory, and they are not for commercial gain.”
They are, however, a powerful political statement.
SIRIUS OutQ, channel 106, will broadcast coverage of the entire week including live coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, color commentary, interviews, profiles and stories of many of the athletes, directors and performers.