Document Type

Journal Article


In what ways did Sydney's Gay Games reinvent the Australian nation? In this paper I set out to examine this question by drawing upon the idea that sports and parades of athletes during opening ceremonies have been definitive moments for the Australian nation. I investigate the social terrains or bodyscapes invoked by sporting gay pride during the participants' parade at the opening ceremony and sports venues of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games. This enables insights into whether these spaces subverted the heteronormativity of sporting bodies that are metaphors for Australian national space. I centre my argument within a post-Foucauldian performance theory to consider both lived experience and textual representations of queer sports spaces. This approach advocates a recursive relationship between power, discourse, and critically reflexive, geographically embedded subjects. The ethnographic basis of my findings is participant observation and a time series of in-depth interviews with over forty self-identifying gay and queer males living in Sydney. I extract two overarching themes from the bodyscapes of the games: transcendence and imprisonment. For those actively involved in the making of camp bodyscapes, mimicking the monopoly of the dominant order through the authority of national signification provided by the parade of athletes at opening ceremonies and by sporting bodies offered a transgressive vehicle. However, the pillar of hetero- normative sporting bodies in defining Australian national boundaries survived unchallenged. Sporting gay pride also worked to close rather than to open up a space for discourses about sexuality and national identity to occur. Closure from a mainstream audience occurred by jettisoning the shame that links sport, sex, and bodies. Closure also occurred amongst certain respondents who shunned the games, regarding it as disciplining bodies into `normalcy'.