The Gay Games is the world's largest sporting and cultural event organized by and specifically for LGBT athletes, artists, musicians, and others. It welcomes participants of every sexual orientation and every skill level. Originally called the Gay Olympics, it was started in San Francisco in 1982, as the brainchild of Tom Waddell, whose goals were to promote the spirit of inclusion and participation, as well as the pursuit of personal growth in a sporting event. It retains many similarities with the Olympics, including the Gay Games flame which is lit at the opening ceremony.
The Gay Games is open to all who wish to participate, without regard to sexual orientation. There are no qualifying standards to compete in the Gay Games. It brings together people from all over the world, many from countries where homosexuality remains illegal and hidden.
The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) is the sanctioning body of the Gay Games. From its statement of concept and purpose:
The purpose of the Federation of Gay Games is to foster and augment the self-respect of lesbians and gay men throughout the world and to engender respect and understanding from the nongay world, primarily through an organized international participatory athletic and cultural event held every four years, and commonly known as the Gay Games.
Gay Games VIII were held in Cologne, Germany from July 31 to August 6, 2010.