Ritt and Brigham are joint winners of Dr. Tom Waddell Award; duo will be honoured at Gay Games XI in Hong Kong and Guadalajara, beginning on November 3; Brigham says award is “sweet recognition of the value of volunteering and advocating for the Gay Games values and community”…
The Federation of Gay Games has announced Emy Ritt and Roger Brigham as joint winners of the Dr. Tom Waddell Award.
The honour recognises significant service and commitment to LGBTQ+ sport and culture. Ritt and Brigham were selected by an FGG committee and the Board of Directors from a shortlist of six nominees.
Ritt was nominated for her many years of service to the Gay Games movement, in particular serving on the FGG Board which included seven years as Co-President, VP of Diversity, VP of Host Relations, and service on many FGG committees.
Based in Paris, she organised a breakthrough 2013 meeting between the FGG and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and previously received the Berlin Pride Civil Courage Award.
“Being associated in any way with the inestimable Dr. Tom Waddell is an honour and a privilege that is a bit overwhelming and surreal for which I am very grateful,” said Ritt.
“Going forward, our challenge is to continue to do our best to live up to the Gay Games principles of participation, inclusion, and personal best.”
Brigham was nominated for his decades of service to the LGBTQ+ sports community as a professional journalist and directly for the FGG.
His 15-year-long sports column for the Bay Area Reporter newspaper coincided with his work as the FGG’s first Officer of Communications, where he created the ‘Participate!’ newsletter.
Brigham developed the SWOT analysis the FGG uses to this day in its site selection process. He served the Strategic Planning Committee while developing the FGG’s anti-doping policy.
He said: “When I was recovering from double-hip replacement surgery 20 years ago, I was so grateful that Golden Gate Wrestling Club was there to accommodate my disabilities that I decided I would ‘pay forward’ everything I could with every group associated with the club – Team San Francisco, Wrestlers WithOut Borders and the Federation of Gay Games – even before I ever competed in a Gay Games.
“You never do something with an award in mind, but the award is a sweet recognition of the value of volunteering and advocating for the Gay Games values and community.”
With less than two weeks to go until the start of Gay Games XI, both Ritt and Brigham say the multisports event – which was founded by Waddell back in 1982 – remains as relevant as ever.
“Through sport and culture, the Gay Games offer a safe space for everyone,” added Ritt. “Gay Games participants and spectators can be themselves and live their lives without fear of judgment or exclusion.
“When people feel good about themselves, everyone can feel good about themselves.”
Brigham said: “Sports participation and competition provide some of the best opportunities for individuals to improve themselves, build confidence and self-reliance, and establish supportive social ties with others, but our community remains underexposed to the sports opportunities that benefit mainstream communities.
“Through its support of queer-centric sports clubs, the Gay Games are able to help empower hundreds of thousands of athletes while hammering away at harmful, outdated stereotypes.”
An FGG statement concluded: “The board members and assembly of the FGG would like to extend their heartfelt thanks for all that these recipients and other nominees have done and accomplished in support of the Gay Games movement.”
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