The fight for equality in sports is still one that we deal with on a daily basis in the LGBTQ community, however we have made some incredible strides over the past 50 years that has brought us much acceptance across the boards. It wasn’t always that easy, and a new documentary from LOGO proves that in a time where being openly gay was a lot more difficult than it is today.
Three-time Emmy Award-winning Logo Documentary Films premiered their latest documentary, Light in the Water, on Thursday night. The film reveals the untold story of a group of gay men and women who found one another through their love of competitive swimming, ultimately becoming a family and a force for the LGBTQ sports movement.
The West Hollywood Aquatics Team – who also go by “WH2O” – were pioneers in gay sports. With a current roster of more than 180 individuals, the organization initially grew out of a group of athletes training for the first Gay Games in 1982. During a time when being gay and being an athlete was considered an oxymoron and the AIDS crisis only increased homophobia across the U.S., WH2O prioritized inclusion and dignity and combated stigma.
As one of the original members states, “if you could swim, you could live…or at least you were alive for that moment.” And another: “swimming was about celebrating and rising above all the darkness that was around us…and striving to show the word that we are not being wiped out by an illness.”
Light in the Water reveals the inside story of a group of trailblazers who personified the change they wanted to see and created a legacy for equality in sports that lives on in the team today.
It is produced by Patty Ivins Specht and Lis Bartlett and directed by Bartlett. Executive Producers from Logo Documentary Films are Pamela Post and Taj Paxton.
The trailer for the film can be seen below. For more information on it, including airtimes, please check out their official website.
WH2O is one of the founding members of International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) and is sanctioned by United States Masters Swimming (USMS) and United States Water Polo (USWP). The teams and their members compete in regional, national, and international meets and tournaments.
The teams include athletes of all abilities ranging from ex-Olympians to beginners. Everyone is welcome regardless of skill, gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability, and 20%-30% of the current team is heterosexual. Throughout the years, WH2O has unfortunately lost 38 beloved members to AIDS and related illnesses.
In the inaugural Gay Games, WH2O received 38 medals, 32 of which were gold! During Gay Games III which had 7,300 athletes, 73 of them were from WH2O, and one member, Michael Mealiff, broke a world record!
The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) promotes equality in and through sport and culture through the international LGBT+ and gay friendly quadrennial event known as the Gay Games. The Gay Games was conceived by Dr. Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete and continues today. Gay Games X will take place in Paris in August 2018.
Fun facts on growth:
Gay Games I (1982, San Francisco) –1,350 athletes from 170 global cities participated
Gay Games II (1986, San Francisco) –3,500 athletes
Gay Games III (1990, Vancouver) – 7,300 athletes
Gay Games IIII (1994, NYC) – 10,864 athletics, which is bigger in size than the 1992 Olympics!