Highlighting the role of swimming in advancing the struggle for gay rights and equality around the world, the 25th International LGBTQ+ Aquatics (IGLA) Championships will bring 1500 swimmers to New York City in June 2019. The event will coincide with the WorldPride and Stonewall 50 celebrations, marking the global impact of New York City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer history and community.
The 25th IGLA Championships will run from June 24 – June 29, 2019, in commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, and in affirmation of IGLA’s commitment to the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ+ equality around the world. The event will include five sports: swimming, diving, open water swimming, synchronized swimming, and water polo. Competition locations include Flushing Meadows in Queens, Lehman College in the Bronx, Rutgers University in New Jersey, and an open water race at Coney Island, Brooklyn. Social events, including athlete panels and photo exhibitions, will be announced. Registration is now open and closes Friday, May 10, 2019.
For spectators, IGLA’s most popular event is always the Pink Flamingo, which closes out the Championship. Competing teams put on wigs, dresses and costumes and combine dancing, swimming and drag in skits that satirize current events and joyfully celebrate queer identity. The Pink Flamingo originated at the Gay Games in 1986, where athletes began to express themselves more flamboyantly than at the first Gay Games in 1982, which presented a more conservative image of gay athletes to the public.
IGLA 2019 will be hosted by Team New York Aquatics (TNYA), the world’s largest LGBTQ+ masters swim team, which supports 500+ athletes with weekly workouts in all five swimming sports and seasonal competitions.
“I’m thrilled to welcome athletes from around the world at the 25th International Gay and Lesbian International Aquatics Championship, at a time when New York City is celebrating its pivotal role in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality in the U.S., which has had an impact around the globe,” said David Hildebrand, Chair of the IGLA 2019 Organizing Committee.
By increasing the international visibility of LGBTQ+ athletes, challenging gender norms and negative stereotypes, and welcoming diverse swimmers, including our straight allies, IGLA’s annual international gatherings have put aquatics at the forefront of LGBTQ+ athletic equality since 1987. World records have been set at IGLA, some of them by HIV+ athletes whose stories helped fight homophobia and stereotypes during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. Today, a younger generation of athletes is carrying this vision into the future, including trans athletes, who remind us that our humanity comes first, before gender and sexuality.
“The 1994 Gay Games was the last time New York City hosted an aquatics event the size we expect for the 2019 IGLA Championships,” said Team New York Aquatics co-founder Charlie Carson. “In that era our athletes set many records and successfully petitioned our governing bodies to add ‘sexual orientation’ to their non-discrimination rules–all during a period of widespread AIDS panic. We have different challenges now, and I’m proud that TNYA’s new generation is eager to carry IGLA’s tradition of success into the future.”
About International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA)
Founded in 1987, IGLA is the world’s foremost international organization solely devoted to developing and promoting gay and lesbian swimming, water polo, diving, and synchronized swimming. Our mission is to promote participation in aquatic sports among lesbians and gay men and friends of our community, and to ensure maintenance of the highest standards for aquatic competitions and international standards for all Gay Games and IGLA Championships.
About Team New York Aquatics (TNYA)
TNYA is the world’s largest LGBTQ+ aquatics team. Founded in 1990, it has more than 500 members, including the first openly gay swimmer on the USA National Team, the first openly trans man to compete in NCAA swimming, and many straight allies. Our athletes range in age from their 20s to their 70s, representing a spectrum of abilities and aspirations, while also reflecting New York City’s vibrant diversity in national origin and race. Our water polo team has been a stalwart at international and regional competitions since 1991. Our diving team, founded in 2011, is considered the strongest LGBTQ+ diving club in the world. Our synchronized swimming team won a gold medal in their first IGLA championship in 2017, and a silver medal at the Paris Gay Games in 2018. And our open water swimmers consistently take top honors in competition.