The international Federation of Gay Games announced the list of persons and groups it will honour with its 2011 Legacy Awards. These annual awards recognise outstanding achievements that promote the FGG values of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best . The Legacy Awards will be presented at a reception at Woody's Bar on Monday 24 October, during the Federation's Annual General Assembly in Toronto.
Ontario personalities and groups feature prominently on this year's list of winners, including Toronto Maple Leafs' General Manager Brian Burke and former ice hockey star Angela James.
Leading the list is Brian Burke, who is honoured for his achievements as a Straight Ally. Burke serves as President and General Manager of the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs, and managed the US hockey team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Burke is a long-time supporter of the fight against homophobia in sport, a commitment that only became stronger after the untimely death in 2010 of his son Brendan, shortly after he had come out publicly. Since then, Brian Burke has been a constant ally for the cause of gay rights and the fight against homophobia, alongside Brendan's brother Patrick, and the entire Maple Leafs team. FGG co-president Kurt Dahl (Chicago) explained: 'The Gay Games movement has been a key part of the fight against homophobia in and by sport, but we realise that no social movement can succeed without the participation of larger society. Brian Burke is an outstanding example of the impact straight people, particularly those in the world of sport, can make. We are delighted to honour him with our 'Straight Ally Legacy Award'.'
Another Toronto personality, Angela James, will also be honoured, with the 'Women in Sport Legacy Award'. Ms. James is a former star ice hockey player, who in 2010 became the first woman inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame. She became famous throughout Canada by her play in Women's World Championship, leading her team to four world champion titles during her career. Prior to this, in 2008, the Angela James Bowl was created in her honour, awarded annually to the top scorer in the Canadian Women's Hockey League.
FGG co-president Emy Ritt (Paris) observed: 'The Federation is committed to the full participation of women in sport. Angela James, an out lesbian and a true star in her sport, is an incredible role model for all athletes, and for women in particular, all the more so as she was a pioneer in a sport where women broke barriers simply by playing the sport of ice hockey.
Federation of Gay Games stalwarts from Ontario will also be honoured with the 'Local Hero Legacy Award'. Stephanie Johnstone of Woodstock, a long-time leader of the International Gay Bowling Organization and the FGG Sports Committee, has also served as Vice President of the Federation, and continues her activism with a campaign against bullying of LGBT youth. Her male counterpart is Rob Lavery, who for several years served on the board of directors of the Federation of Gay Games representing Team Toronto. During this time he also served as chair of the Site Selection Committee and as a site inspector for both Gay Games VII and VIII. FGG officer for volunteers Jennifer Forward (Melbourne) spoke to the importance of people like Rob and Stephanie: 'The Federation operates on an all-volunteer basis. We rely on the talents and efforts of people like Stephanie and Rob to carry out our ongoing work to choose the best host for the Gay Games, develop and implement the best sports program and policies, and to support our host in the planning and execution of the largest international competitive sports event in the world open to all. We're delighted to honour them here close to home, where the many people who know them will be able to share in this moment.
Organisations are also recognised by the Federation. Another local winner is the Toronto Gay Football League, which will be honoured with the FGG's Local Organisation Legacy Award. This year represents TGFL's second season of offering flag football to men and women, gay and straight. Federation sports officer Bettina Dietmann-Winter (Munich) stated: 'I remember my pleasure in seeing the Toronto Muddy York Rugby Club recruitment video. Toronto is full of great sports groups, most of which are members of our friends at Outsport Toronto. We felt that TGFL was particularly worthy of recognition. This group is young, but has gone from 0 to 120 players in only two years. They represent the vitality of LGBT sport, and the Federation's values of inclusion and participation. Their inclusion of men and women, LGBT and straight people, is part of their success, and a principle the FGG wants to support. And we look forward to welcoming members of the league to Cleveland in 2014 for flag football at Gay Games 9!
Outside of Toronto, the FGG will be recognising member organization International Gay Bowling Organization with its Member Organization Legacy Award. Created in 1980, two years before Gay Games I, this founding member of the FGG has grown to over 200 bowling leagues and 24 tournaments, and is the largest LGBT sports organization in the world. FGG vice president for membership Paul Oostenbrug (Albuquerque) spoke of his satisfaction in recognising IGBO: 'The FGG brings together dozens of member organizations representing among others, international LGBT sports federations. Bowling, along with softball, is one of the historic LGBT sports, and is key part of each edition of the Gay Games. IGBO brings its expertise to the organization of bowling every four years, and runs an extensive schedule of tournaments each year, serving thousands of bowlers in North America and beyond.
The first FGG 'Social Justice Legacy Award' will be made to Cape Town's Ndumie Funda and the organisation she founded, Luleki Sizwe, which combat the abominable practice of 'corrective rape' in South Africa's black townships. This practice targets presumed lesbians, claiming to 'cure' them by rape.
The Federation's former VP for diversity Kate Rowe explains the FGG connection with the group: 'At the Federation's 2008 Annual Meeting in Cape Town, Ndumie was the head volunteer. She introduced us to several women affected by 'corrective rape', and spoke very movingly about this crime. Since that meeting we have followed her work, have worried for her when she has gone into hiding after death threats, and supported her campaign for the South African government to take action on this issue.' VP for external affairs Marc Naimark (Paris) added: 'The FGG promoted her Change.org petition on this matter, and we are pleased that our appeal to our Gay Games family pushed the number well over 150,000 at a time when the effort had been stagnating. The final total of 170,000 had a great impact, with a government task force being set up, on which Ndumie serves. There is a long way to go, but thanks to the courage of Ndumie and others, real progress has been made.
These awards will be presented along with the FGG Volunteer of the Year medals at a drinks evening at Woody's Bar in Toronto on the evening of Monday 24 October. All are welcome to join the festivities, organised by FGG Awards Committee cochair Michael Witt with the help of Outsport Toronto.