The role of Gay Games Ambassadors is to support the Gay Games, the largest international sporting event open to all, and the Federation’s work to develop the lesbian, gay, bi and transgender sports movement, to combat homophobia in and by sport, and to promote the FGG’s message of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best ™.
Matthew Mitcham and Blake Skjellerup join Australians Michelle Ferris, an Olympic cyclist, and Ji Wallace, an Olympic trampoline competitor as Gay Games Ambassadors from the Asia-Pacific region.
Australian Matthew Mitcham shot to fame by winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, shortly after coming out. Last year he joined the 10,000 athletes and artists participating in Gay Games VIII, where he read the athletes’ oath at opening ceremony in Cologne’s RheinEnergie Stadium. Matthew also participated in a number of events in Cologne, in particular the International Rainbow Memorial Run for victims of AIDS and other illnesses, and met participants at various venues, including the Gay Games Scholarship reception.
Christchurch, New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup came out shortly after the Vancouver Olympics, where he had competed in short track speed skating. Blake has spent his off-season in New Zealand working on anti-bullying efforts, including the Pink Shirt letter-writing campaign, which led to a meeting on the issue with the country’s prime minister. He then went on a speaking tour of schools throughout the country.
Federation co-president Kurt Dahl (Chicago) expressed the pleasure of the FGG at the support of Matthew and Blake: “We are very grateful that both of these young men have decided to commit to the work of Gay Games Ambassadors. We recognize that for athletes at the peak of their competitive career, commitments must be made with care. Each has taken their time to join us, and know that this means that they are fully invested in supporting the next Gay Games, which will be held in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio in 2014.”
Female co-president Emy Ritt (Paris) added: “Matthew and Michelle Ferris both attended the eighth edition of the Gay Games last year in Cologne, Germany, where they saw first hand the life-changing power of this event which brings athletes from around the world together in a celebration of sport and culture in a safe and welcoming environment. And beyond this event, all of our Ambassadors understand our mission to promote the fundamental human right to practice sport and culture free from violence and discrimination.”