Paul Mart:... A Gay Games Hero...
Two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star from WWII.... courtesy Michael Collins:
From: Gene Dermody:
These are the points I made in the above video I made with Michael Collins in the Spring of 2018.
I have known Paul since the first GGs in SF in 1982. He was energetic, diminutive, and extroverted.
You could not shut him up once he got your ear.
I was impressed with his eclectic life and took the time to inquire into more details whenever I could.
At the time, he only revealed what he wanted, and kept stuff secret that I was not to discover until 2014.
He seemed to be independently wealthy, he had movie theatre business in SoCal, he had been a HollyWood stunt man, and was a professional rodeo / horse handler.
You can actually catch a glimpse of him in an unedited version of Dr. Zhivago where the Czar's mounted police are herding protestors (Paul is managing the horses
in this tense scene).
Paul also traveled a lot, and was always on the road making friends, contacts, and 'deals'.
I was aware that Paul was funding a lot of Tom Waddell's Gay Olympic Games project, and you could see the pride he had in Tom and the venture whenever
he would get on the topic.
Since I had come to SF Spetember 1982 as an athlete from NYC, and decided to never leave SF, I got involved with the two early organizations that sprouted up:
Golden Gate Wrestling with Don Jung (coach of Mission HS), and San Francisco Arts and Athletics (the non-profit that ran the GGs).
This gave me the opportunity to observe those early years as preparations were being made for GGsII 1986, especially Tom Waddell and Paul Mart,
especially since my now deceased partner at the time served on the GGsII planning committee (Carl Roger Martin III).
There were many social opportunities, meetings, fund raisers, bars, and with SF being such a small provincial town compared to my old NYC,
I would see everyone all the time to informally chat about progress.
At the time I just thought Paul was just an Angel with resources plus connections, and his quirkiness to be humorously tolerated.
But when you talked with him, he had an incredibly active mind, a very astute business acumen, and a very realistic perspective on what GGsII could expect.
His international traveling had given him a sane perspective of the state of LGBT politics everywhere, and I always believed his statements were
based upon real life experiences, unlike a lot of the very over the top SF LGBT politicos who held this very naive and provincial view of LGBT status.
He was first a good business man, and since he was paying the bills, you had to listen.
I specifically remember Paul relating to me in 2014 the one incident where he waded into a debate and vehemently stood up to Tom.
History has shown that this was an important decision, and it could have scuttled the GGs.
Tom had been so wrapped up in the excitement of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics where he won a Bronze,
that he wanted to capture that excitement and motivation by doing the first Gay Olympic Games .
He subsequently got caught up in the very pompous/elitist notions of the Olympics, and envisioned the Gay Olympic Games as another elite athlete event
to PROVE ATHLETIC EQUALITY, instead of the more successful community event (Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best) that it evolved into.
Tom even went as far as to become a proponent of the Leni Riefenstahl film Olympia, a 1938 Hitler propaganda piece highlighting the
1936 Berlin Olympics.
If you ignore the Nazi propaganda, and all the other racist trappings, it is a very well made film for 1938, and it does engender pride, enthusiasm,
athleticism, and all that Olympic elitism, which was its PR purpose!
Obviously saner heads prevailed, and Tom's interest in using/modeling Olympia were squashed.
As GGs grew, and became international with GGsIII Vancouver, the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) was born from the original
San Francisco Arts and Athletics, even co-opting their non-profit account.
Paul was always present at these annual meetings, and was always trying to help, but he was hampered by his bad hearing (WWII wound) and a lack of technical skills
to operate in the new digital email/web site world.
Business had changed from friendship handshakes to high powered lawyers, and Paul was considered too 'Old School' .
Consequently he was repeatedly disrespected by the FGG, which he just good naturedly ignored and dismissed.
However many of us took offense, and went out of our way to include Paul and chastise some of the more rude FGG people.
At the 2011 FGG AGA, the 'back from the dead 3 times issue' of merging the FGG with the corrupt Gay Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA)
returned, and many older HLMs with
bequeathals were making disapproval noises, and first among them was Paul.
I managed to get Paul to the FGG Toronto annual meeting (he stayed with the Wrestlers WithOut Borders (WWB) contingent),
and we got him to articulate to the FGG that if this foolish merge went through,
he would redirect his bequeathal away from the FGG. He was ignored.
Whether it had an effect or not, is questionable, but it did get other HLMs with bequeathals to step up and speak out.
Former FGG copresidents Rick Peterson and Kathleen Webster eventually met with the FGG, and convinced them that the merger was foolish.
The FGG scuttled the merger when GLISA refused to have an impartial evaluation of their Brand.
Then the Miami World OutGames IV fiasco totally destroyed GLISA and OutGames credibility.
Once again, Paul's 'meddling' started something that resulted in saving the GGs.
The one most effective contribution of Paul's to the GGs Movement was his international ambassadorship role.
In the promotion of GGsI, Paul's connections in EU and AU/NZ yielded a rather impressive international registration.
Ditto for GGsII 1986.
Many FGG people would ridicule Paul when he would say 'he started the xyz club in zyx country'.
Well maybe that was a legal stretch, but it was accurate from an emotional and an 'on the ground perspective'.
Paul knew where the LGBT communities were, he cultivated the local LGBT communities and media, and facilitated the communications
(telephone and letters) in an era before eMail and web sites.
Paul was the first non digital web site, database, and listserv for the GayGames using RoloDex cards, almost two decades before those tech tools were formally
instituted for the FGG by Erich Richter and me in the mid '90s.
Other than high end corporations, it was impossible in those days to support an egalitarian grassroots organization.
But the FGG did it thanks to Paul's connections.
In the past few years 2014-2018, I had been looking to retire in Palm Springs P/T, and spent a lot more time with Paul over at assisted living Windsor Court.
Sometimes he would sneak out, grab a cab, and meet me at the 'StreetBar' on Arenas.
He was always positive, engaging, funny, and a handful.
It was during this time I discovered Paul's secret past.
I found lots of awards, medals, commendations, etc... from various famous generals in WWII, former presidents, including a very nice commendation/photo with Bill Clinton.
Paul's athleticism, intelligence, and language skills made him an a perfect undercover spy for the Allied North African campaign against Rommel.
Paul's mother was French, he had French citizenship, spoke French, and had a handsome Berber look to him perfect for Algeria!
He never spoke about this to people because of the very anti-military tenor of the '70s in SF (Vietnam).
He also had too many memories of seeing horrible bombing/shelling deaths where he lost good friends, and which damaged his hearing.
Paul never acknowledged the hearing loss, and it was often responsible for his being misunderstood.
In 1990 I nominated Paul who received the first Tom Waddell Award at GGsIII Vancouver.
In 2014 I received the Tom Waddell Award at GGsIX Cleveland, the city where Paul grew up.
This summer, Paul will be celebrating his 100th birthday in Palm Springs on 25 August 2018.
I will be turning 70 in November 2018, a 30 year differential in our ages.
I wish I had known him better in those early years when he was a Lion for the GayGames.