It has been more than four years since Washington lost the Gay Games 9 bid to Cleveland/Akron and the sting of that loss has faded. Now it’s time to seriously start thinking about your plans to go to Cleveland for the Gay Games to be held Aug. 9-16.
I’ve been hearing a lot of rumbling in the LGBT sports community locally and nationally about the location of the Games. People are asking, “Why would I want to go to Cleveland or Akron?”
What’s in it for you and why should you attend? For those of you who’ve participated at the Games in the past, you know the reasons. For those of you who’ve not, I will supply a few.
The LGBT sports movement has been experiencing a great amount of support and progression over the past few years. The media will be in Cleveland on a large scale and this is our opportunity to shine as athletes and support our community.
I remember in 2006 when USA Today ran a cover story about the Chicago Gay Games and I was pleasantly surprised. During and after the Games, I didn’t see a lot of coverage. I think that will be different this time because the LGBT sports community now has a larger presence.
Paris recently won the bid for Gay Games 10 in 2018. If the Cleveland/Akron Games fail, there will be no Paris. While it’s true that the Gay Games received a $250,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation as a presenting sponsor (a first for the Games), if attendance is poor, it will hamper the efforts to fund the Paris Games.
According to Les Johnson, a Federation of Gay Games board member, Cleveland and Akron are excited about us coming.
“Washington D.C. has big things happening here all the time,” Johnson says. “The Gay Games are a really big thing for both Cleveland and Akron and they are looking forward to hosting us.”
There will be more than 35 sports contested in Cleveland and Akron and the sports venues are top notch, from the Cleveland State aquatic facility to the Firestone Stadium softball venue to the University of Akron track & field stadium. This is an opportunity to compete at well-run facilities with experienced officials.
You might be thinking that Cleveland doesn’t have a large gay scene. That’s true, but what do you think happens when 10,000 LGBT athletes from more than 65 countries invade a town for eight days? It becomes very gay.
You’ll see the LGBT community in force at restaurants, bars, tourist attractions and especially on public transport. At the past few Games I’ve met most of my cohorts for the week on public transport.
One of the popular features from the Cologne Games in 2010 and a personal favorite of mine were the athlete villages. Every day after competing, thousands of athletes and supporters converge on the villages for music, dancing, drinking, food and people watching. Dinner with the Icelandic swim team, beers with the Irish soccer team — what more can you ask for?
Another thing to be excited about is marching into the opening ceremonies with 10,000 athletes from all over the world. The Cleveland/Akron Games will open at the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. The Arena is home to the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Assocaiton, the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League and the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League.
Team D.C. is expecting to send more than 400 athletes from our LGBT sports community. Team D.C. will once again coordinate the uniforms and will march in together representing Washington behind the District flag and the Team D.C. banner. We always get a huge response.
Based on what I’ve heard so far, we will be represented in the sports of swimming, water polo, softball, soccer, flag football, tennis, running, triathlon, bowling, cycling, basketball, dancesport, open water swimming, volleyball and track & field.
The closing ceremonies will be held at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland and represents the last chance to hang out with all the new friends you made during the week.
Team D.C. is offering a discounted registration price for the Gay Games which ends Jan. 8. The code is “teamdc.”
What are you waiting for? Eight days of sports, music and world culture are calling your name.