Dr. Tom Waddell



Dr. Tom Waddell(November 1, 1937 - July 11, 1987)- was the gay American sportsman who founded the international sporting event called the Gay Games, which was named such after the USOC sued Dr. Waddell for using the word "Olympic" in the original name "Gay Olympics".

Waddell was born Thomas Flubacher on November 1, 1937 in Paterson, New Jersey to a Catholic family. Aware of his homosexual feelings in high school, he excelled in athletics as a means to compensate for them.

In the summer of 1959, he worked at a children's camp in western Massachusetts, where he met his first lover, socialist Enge Menaker, then a 63-year-old man. The men remained close for the rest of Menaker's life, which ended in 1985 when he was ninety years old. At the Mexico City Olympics, Waddell placed sixth among the 33 competitors. He broke five of his own personal records in the ten events. In his first serious affair since his alliance with Menaker, he finally entered into a relationship with Charles Deaton, twelve years his senior, in 1974. The two men threw themselves into the emerging gay culture of 1970s San Francisco, even as Waddell continued to explore occasional relationships with women.

After leaving Whittaker, Waddell happened to attend a Bay Area gay bowling competition, which inspired him to consider organizing a gay sports event modeled on the Olympics. He took up the cause of the "Gay Olympics" by traveling across the country to drum up support.

The first Gay Olympics was to take place in San Francisco in 1982 in the form of a sports competition and arts festival, but the U.S. Olympic Committee (U.S.O.C.) sued Waddell's organization over its use of the word "Olympic." The Gay Games, renamed, went forward and were a great success. The battle over the right to use the term "Gay Olympics" continued in the courts and was not finally settled until 1987. In 1981, Waddell met public-relations man and fundraiser Zohn Artman, with whom he fell in love and began a relationship. That same year, Waddell, who had longed to be a father, also met lesbian athlete Sara Lewinstein and they decided to have a child together. Their daughter Jessica was born in 1983 and they were married in 1985. Waddell died on July 11, 1987 with the enormous grace and courage that marked his life. His last words were "Well, this should be interesting.