The Federation of Gay Games has announced a new initiative called OASIS: Out Olympic Athlete Solidarity Inspiration & Support. The program is designed to offer financial support for openly gay Olympic athletes.
FGG officer of marketing Doug Litwin, one of the driving forces behind the program, said he hopes they can raise enough money and awareness to help elite gay athletes come out of the closet and compete in the Olympics. He said the impetus came in 2008 upon hearing that Matthew Mitcham’s partner was having trouble raising the money to get to the Beijing Games.
The initiative will be funded by donations solicited from Gay Games participants and member organizations. All donations collected for the program will be divided evenly between two initiatives: 50% will go to help openly gay athletes reach the Olympic Games; 50% will go to the Gay Games’ scholarship fund, which helps disadvantaged athletes attend the Gay Games.
Presently the plan is to offer financial support only to athletes who have qualified for the Olympics and have received confirmation that they will represent their country in the Games.
While some details have been announced, the launch of the program is still in the works. The FGG was hoping for support from the International Olympic Committee, but the IOC has yet to respond to their request to work together, according to Litwin.
This is part of a broader FGG initiative to make the Olympic Games for gay-friendly. They have also launched the Principle 5 campaign, which seeks to make explicit in the Olympic charter that discrimination based on sexual orientation on sports is not acceptable. The FGG is also organizing openly gay volunteers for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Stay tuned for more information in the coming months. You can reach Litwin via email.
Also visit our Gay Games VIII blog for complete coverage of the 2010 Games.