Though the American LGBTQ community is proud of Adam Rippon for becoming the first openly gay athlete on Team USA to earn an Olympic medal, his win – and even his inclusion on the team – were a long time coming.
In a new movie from Logo Documentary Films, the three-time Emmy Award-winning studio explores the fledgling stages of the movement for queer athletes to be recognized and allowed to participate on the same level as straight athletes. Told through the lens and stories of members of the West Hollywood Aquatics Team (WH2O), Light in the Water details the lengths gay sports pioneers went to as they strived for inclusion.
Among the key moments documented in film was the founding of the very first Gay Games in 1982, when, after being stigmatized to the point of being unable to compete in the official Olympics, queer athletes founded their own multi-sport contest. After a successful inaugural event the Games continued to grow, even in the face of the AIDS crisis and all the misunderstanding around it, when LGBTQ people even were turned away from public pools for fear of the virus being transmitted through the water.
The film derives its name from members of WH2O who were lost to AIDS in the late 80s and early 90s, but whose memory lives on in the effort they put forth into the creation of the Gay Games and the love they poured into making WH2O a safe place for queer athletes to train and find their chosen family. The powerful documentary premieres on Logo tonight (July 19) at 8pm ET/PT. Watch the trailer, below.