Sunday 21 July 2013

Holding the Torch High for the Community

On this day last year lgbt sports campaigner and member of the London 2012 Diversity Committee, John Amaechi, was standing on top of the North Greenwich Arena holding aloft the Olympic torch (and holding aloft gymnast superstar Nadia Comaneci as well!). The UK was fired up with Olympic fever as the London 2012 games approached. It was the torch relay that fired up the enthusiasm more than anything else as it made its way around the country.

I’d never given the torch relay much thought in past years, but this began to change when I realised that the torch would be in Nottingham on my birthday! And I was even more pleased to see Torvill and Dean light the community cauldron in the Old Market Square with my old friend Leon Unczur (the first openly gay Lord Mayor in the UK), dressed in his best civic finery, looking on.

After doing a bit of digging around I realised that the torch relay is relatively under-researched. I tried to find out how many lgbt torch bearers there have been but there are actually very few published complete lists from previous relays to research. Last year I gave a list of lgbt torch bearers I had identified up to London 2012. Since then I have managed to identify more.

One thing which surprised me was the number of HIV+ torch bearers there have been, and how many years ago. In fact, HIV and AIDS have been a big cause for many torch bearers over the years and in December I’ll cover this in more detail. For now I’ll leave you with my most recent list of lgbt Olympic torch bearers. They are grouped according to year, with their name and occupation, and lastly the date and location of their leg in the relay. Two of them, astronaut Sally Ride and Olympian Mark Tewksbury, have carried the Olympic torch twice. Runners who are HIV+ are marked - 
1984 Los Angeles
Sally Ride, America’s first woman astronaut; possibly New York City, 8 May 1984.
George Takei, “Star Trek” actor and amateur athlete; Los Angeles, California, date uncertain.

1996    Atlanta
Vicky Galindo, Olympic silver medallist 2008 (USA, softball); Winters, California, 4 May 1996.
Gail Marquis, Olympic silver medallist 1976 (USA, basketball); location and date uncertain.

2002    Salt Lake City
-Paul Harris, journalist with POZ magazine; location uncertain, December 2001.
-Mark Nowak, of Avalon Apparel; Buffalo, New York State, New Year Eve or Day 2001-2.
-Jim Valiton, of Tuscon Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network; Tuscon, Arizona, 13 January 2002.
Lance Bass, singer with boyband N’Sync; Newport Beach, California,15 January 2002 (runner 075)
Sally Ride, America’s first woman astronaut; San Diego, California, 15 January 2002 (runner 106)
Doug Jack, Director of Choreography for 6 Olympic ceremonies 1992-2002; Los Angeles, California, 15 January 2002 (runner 222)
-Dennis J. Lee; 8 February 2002; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

2004    Athens
Daniel Kowalski, Olympic gold medallist (swimming); Melbourne, Australia, 5 June 2004.
-Shaun Mellors, founder, National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS; Cape Town, South Africa, 12 June 2004.
-Prudence Mabele, founder, Positive Women’s Network; first South African bi woman to declare HIV status; Cape Town, South Africa, 12 June 2004.
Ellen Degeneres, comedian and talk show host; Los Angeles, California, USA, 16 June 2004.
Anthony Angelico, Delaware University student, future member of New York gay soccer team; New York City, 19 June 2004.
Mark Tewksbury, Olympic gold medallist (swimming); Canada, 20 June 2004.
Conchita Martinez, tennis champion and Olympic medallist (silver 1992, bronze 1996); Barcelona, Spain, June 1994.

2006    Turin
Giorgio Armani, fashion designer, designer of Italian Olympic 2006 team uniform; Milan, Italy, 24 January 2006.

2008    Beijing
-John Caldera, San Francisco Veteran Affairs Commission member; first Mr International Bear 1992; San Francisco, USA, 9 April 2008.
Helen Zia, former executive editor of “Ms” magazine, journalist; San Francisco, USA, 9 April 2008.
Andrew Heslop, founder of Australia’s national Neighbour Day; Canberra, Australia, 24 April 2008.
Jonothon Welch, choral conductor, 2008 Australian of the year; Canberra, Australia, 24 April 2008

2010 Vancouver
Nancy Drolet, Olympic silver medallist (ice hockey); Drummondville, Quebec, 6 December 2009.
Brian Orser, Olympic silver medallist (figure skating); Pickering, Ontario, 17 December 2009.
-Tom Hammond, Executive Director, AIDS Committee of Guelph and Wellington County; Owen Sound, Ontario, 20 December 2009.
Danielle Peers, Paralympic bronze medallist (wheelchair basketball); University of Alberta campus, Edmonton, Alberta, 13 January 2010.
Mark Tewksbury, Olympic gold medallist (swimming); Taber, British Colombia, 17 January 2010.
-Eric Sawyer, founding member of ACT-UP, Civil Society Partnership Adviser UNAIDS; Calgary, Alberta, 20 January 2010.
Marion Lay, Olympic bronze medallist (swimming), past Chair of Vancouver 2010 Bid committee and member of the Organising Committee; Pemberton, British Colombia, 6 February 2010.
-Tiko Kerr, artist and AIDS activist; Vancouver, British Colombia, 10 February 2010.
Dean Caten and Dan Caten, identical twins, international fashion designers DSquared2, and designers for the main performers at 2010 opening and closing ceremonies; Vancouver, British Colombia, 10 February 2010 (they ran separately rather than together)
Angus Praught, President of Travel Marketing, member of International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association; Vancouver, British Colombia, 12 February 2010 (he brought his torch to a special event at the Vancouver Pride House on 17 February 2010).

2010 Vancouver (Paralympic relay)
Rick Mercer, broadcaster and comedian; 3 March 2010, Ottawa, Ontario.

2012 London
Andy Stonehill-Brooks, founder of Support U, a network of nationwide lgbt support centres; Combe Martin, Devon,  21 May.
Vincent Jackson, charity fundraiser; Cardiff, 25 May.
Tara Mifflin, youth leader volunteer with Stonewall; Y Felinheli, Wales, 28 May.
Colin Renshaw, volunteer in the lgbt community, Manchester Pride and 2002 Commonwealth Games; Bolton, Lancashire, 31 May.
Kevin Bartlett, amateur rugby coach; former recording artist; 1990 Gay Games gold medallist (athletics); Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, 3 June.
Heather Davidson, cerebral palsy sufferer; student; volunteer with lgbt support groups in Manchester; Trafford, Lancashire, 24 June.
Trevor Burchick, MBE, founder of the Pride Games; representative on the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association; Stockport, Lancashire, 24 June.
Lorna McArdle, past Chair of Reading Pride, member of local marching band; Reading, Berkshire, 10 July.
Clare Balding, former jockey and BBC sports broadcaster; Newbury, Berkshire, 11 July.
-Peter Hellawell, Chairman of Trustees of Positive Action; marathon runner, competitor at Gay Games 2006; Bridport, Dorset, 12 July.
Jason Saw, head of MINDOUT, lgbt mental illness charity; Arundel, Sussex, 16 July.
Gideon Meade, founder, Brighton Lesbian and Gay Sports Society; Brighton, Sussex, 16 July.
Colin Bentley, nursing assistant on HIV ward, marathon runner; Brighton, Sussex, 17 July.
Gavin Owen, marathon runner, volunteer with Brighton and London Prides; Eastbourne, Sussex, 17 July.
John Amaechi, OBE, former NBA basketball star, member of London 2012 Diversity and Inclusion Group; Greenwich, London, 21 July.
Tim Sullivan, Chairman of Kings Cross Steelers, the world’s first gay rugby club; Haringey, London,  22 July.
Mark Healey, founder of 17-24-30, set up to mark the anniversary of the 1999 London Nail Bomb attacks, founder of Vigil Against Hate Crime; Lewisham, London, 23 July.
Chris Basiurski, Chair, Gay Football Supporter’s Network; member, Diversity Panel of the Football Association; Hammersmith, London, 26 July.

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