Victoria University researcher Dr Caroline Symons has won yet another accolade, this time for her book on the history of the Gay Games.

Symons’ book, The Gay Games: A History, has taken out this year’s Australian Society for Sports History (ASSH) Book Award prize.

Symons, a historian and sociologist who lectures in sports sociology and event management, said she was “honoured” to win the award said the win recognises GLBTI people in sport worldwide.

“One of my motives in writing the book was to acknowledge and celebrate the inclusiveness of the diverse queer community [and] to raise awareness of gay and lesbian sport among mainstream readers,” she said.

“Sporting and cultural events are often described in organisational terms.

“I chose a different approach in this work by looking at the social context and impact of the Games.”

The book, published in 2010, charts the life and times of the GLBTI sporting event from its humble beginings in San Francisco in 1982, through to Chicago in 2006, including a bitter division between organisers in 2004 which saw the birth of the rival Outgames.

In the historical account, Symons spoke to those involved with setting up the Games on the triumphs and setbacks of staging an international GLBTI sporting event.

ASSH said Symons’ book was a “meticulously researched and sophisticated social history” and promoted “centrality, as opposed to the marginality” of GLBT people in sport.

“The Committee considers The Gay Games: A History an engaging narrative that reveals both the lived experiences and personal stories of individuals, groups and communities involved in the organisation and participation of various Games,” ASSH said in its assessment.

Symons was also commended for her use of oral history, participant observation and archival research.

In 2010 Symons won the VicHealth Professor David Hill Award for Knowledge and Translation for her first-of-a-kind research into GLBT participation in Australian sport.

The Come Out to Play research found more than 45 percent of participants were not ‘out’ in mainstream sports and many avoided participating in team games for fear of harassment.

Symons’ Gay Games history is due to be released later this year in a soft-cover edition.

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