Countywide : Gay Games IV to Get O.C. Contingent of 86
Richard C. Grauman had a dream during a trip to the nation’s capital to participate in last May’s gay march on Washington.
His reverie was to organize gay and lesbian athletes in Orange County to participate in the 1994 Gay Games in New York City this June.
“Orange County has these blinders on that (locally) there are no gay athletes,” said Grauman, 31, who is homosexual.
With little more than two months remaining, the Anaheim resident has organized 86 athletes who will compete and represent Orange County in New York’s Olympic-style competition.
“This has gone way beyond what I had ever dreamed of--this has opened a new door to the gay and lesbian community,” said Grauman, who will compete in racquetball events. “I look at the professions of the people going: lawyers, doctors, certified public accountants, financial planners, construction workers, and yet, they’re all athletes.”
As founder and captain of TEAM Orange County, Grauman worked thousands of hours to organize local athletes for Gay Games IV. The games are expected to draw more than 15,000 gay and straight participants from throughout the world in 31 individual and team sports. The games will be held from June 18 to 25.
“My medal has been working with TEAM Orange County and the friendships that have developed,” Grauman said. “We’ve all worked so hard. If I won a medal, it would be the icing on the cake.”
Grauman, a medical case manager for adults with head injuries, said: “There isn’t the pressure of winning or losing. The whole emphasis is on doing your best. . . . You can feel proud of who you are.”
Others share Grauman’s spirit.
Darin Bence, 27, co-captain of the team, will be competing for the first time.
“I’ve always been an athlete regardless of my sexuality. I did athletics because it’s the masculine part of me,” said Bence, a Laguna Beach triathlete who started swimming at age 5. A massage therapist, Bence said going to the Gay Games is a chance to change the way people think about the gay community. “I want to show America that we’re the neighbor next door,” he said.
TEAM Orange County member Nancy Schroeder, 36, of Huntington Beach, had hoped to be a contender in the swimming competitions in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.
She didn’t make the team.
After quitting swimming 18 years ago, Schroeder, a mortgage banker who is gay, now has a second chance to compete for a gold medal.
“I still have the competitiveness,” she said. “I’d like to win a medal.”
Richard Ammon, a swimmer and Laguna Beach psychologist, brought four gold medals home from the 1986 Gay Games.
“This is the biggest statement people can participate in as gay and lesbian people,” said Ammon, 53. “It’s a celebration of a lifestyle. It is so affirming. It’s a sorely needed antidote to the bigotry we’re surrounded with.”