The first annual Queer Games kicks off on campus with an opening ceremony tomorrow at 5 p.m. in the MultiCultural Center Theatre.
The week-long athletic series is open to the entire student body and intends to break stereotypes concerning athletic ability and sexual orientation. The competition’s motto is “Sports … Just another thing we do with pride!”
Alfredo Del Cid, Associated Students Queer Commission outreach coordinator and Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity student intern, said the competition targets prejudices in the athletic community.
“I was on the rowing team here and was exposed to some of the stereotypes involving the queer community and sports,” Del Cid said. “I want to break those stereotypes and show that sports ability is not dependent on sexuality.”
Photographer Jeff Sheng, an Asian American studies and photography lecturer at UCSB, will be the keynote speaker.
“He has done several projects … which center around ‘out’ athletes and because of that he is the perfect person to give a talk about athletics and the queer community,” Del Cid said.
Sheng, a Harvard graduate, said in a 2008 interview with NBC he found it difficult to be an openly gay college athlete, which is reflected in his “Fearless” photography series.
“I started the project to encourage discussion about homophobia in sports and the way it adversely affects gay and lesbian high school and college athletes,” Sheng said. “What I hope people get when they look at the images is that they see pictures of people that they recognize … and that they begin to look at the gay and lesbian community in a different way — perhaps with more empathy and respect.”
Main events include an indoor soccer tournament between four teams from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Rec Cen’s indoor field on March 2, followed by a dodgeball match at 7:30 p.m. Volleyball begins the following day with matches from 7 to 9 p.m. in the RecCen.
Participants will receive free T-shirts and all athletes will obtain a certificate. Dodgeball teams will be assembled at the event; people must e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for soccer and volleyball matches ahead of time.
RCSGD Director Joshua Johnson said the events will help students meet new people and relieve some end-of-quarter stress.
“It’s a time to get connected with the community,” Johnson said. “You can step away from academic life for a little and get rid of some stress while meeting people with similar interests.”