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Gay Games ousts organizer, but event stays in Cleveland

Some say decision violates rules, event should move to D.C.

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The international LGBT sports organization that picked Cleveland over D.C. to host the 2014 Gay Games announced Tuesday that it has revoked its contract with the Cleveland foundation it chose to organize the games.

And in an action questioned by D.C. sports groups, the Federation of Gay Games also said it “remains committed” to keeping the quadrennial event in Cleveland, even though some people believe its rules call for awarding the games to the organization and city whose bid it selected as the runner up.

The FGG selected the Metropolitan Washington Gaymes, Inc., a coalition of D.C.-area LGBT sports groups, as the runner up for the games last year, when it announced it had picked the Cleveland Synergy Foundation as the host for the 2014 event in Cleveland.

“As the runner up city, we expressed our hope that they would follow what we’ve interpreted as the accepted procedure, which is if the contract could not be executed [in Cleveland] they would go to the runner up,” said Brent Minor, president of Team D.C., one of the LGBT sports organizations that’s part of Metropolitan Washington Gaymes.

“So this is news to us,” Minor said. “It’s very disappointing.”

Minor and Vince Micone, president of Metropolitan Washington Gaymes, said the Gaymes group would consider whether to question the decision and possibly seek to reverse it when the FGG General Assembly meets in Cologne, Germany later this month.

The General Assembly is the organization’s full governing body and can overrule action by the FGG board, which is believed to have made the decision to stick with Cleveland for the 2014 Gay Games.

The General Assembly meeting is set to take place after the 2010 Gay Games, now being held in Cologne, concludes Aug. 7.

But Kelly Stevens, a member of the FGG board and spokesperson for the organization, issued a statement from Cologne disputing Minor and Micone’s interpretation of the rules related to runner up status.

“The site selection rules were set up to provide a process in case an original license agreement with a host city could not be reached,” he told the Blade. “They are not written to award the games to another city in case of change of management once planning has begun. The FGG will honor the vote for Cleveland as the host of the 2014 Gay Games.

“Naturally, the FGG will discuss the situation at its annual meeting,” he said. “We will not be issuing any further comments. Our time [now] is devoted to Cologne.”

In announcing its decision to oust the Cleveland Synergy Foundation as the Gay Games organizing entity, the FGG reversed an announcement one week earlier saying it would not disclose its decision on the Synergy Foundation until after the General Assembly meeting.

The decision to revoke Synergy’s license didn’t come as a surprise to Gay Games observers, who have read reports coming from Cleveland about the FGG’s and Cleveland city officials’ dissatisfaction with the foundation. Some press reports have noted Synergy faced problems related to financial “irregularities.”

An official with Cleveland’s Office of Economic Development, which was overseeing Cleveland’s pledge of $700,000 in financial support for the Gay Games, said in a letter leaked to the media that Synergy had failed to meet deadlines for submitting required reports to the city.

“The Federation of Gay Games ended its relationship with Cleveland Synergy Foundation, effective 6 July 2010,” said the FCC in its Aug. 3 statement. “The FGG remains committed to the host city of Cleveland, and the State of Ohio to host Gay Games IX in 2014.

“Cleveland city officials and a delegation of regional organizations and supporters will accept the flag of the Federation of Gay Games in Cologne, Germany on 7 August 2010 at the closing ceremony from the city officials of Cologne, Germany.”

It adds, “The FGG, cooperating with its Cleveland partners, continues to work hard to ensure that planning for the 2014 Gay Games progresses at a satisfactory pace.”

Cleveland city officials said they were scrambling to put together a new entity to organize and operate the games. Many of the officials involved with Synergy Foundation’s initial plans for the games were in Cologne this week attending this year’s Gay Games and taking steps to officially launch plans for the 2014 games.

D.C. activists following the developments said it was unprecedented for the FGG to agree to hold the games in a city without first approving a detailed bid by an organization. Many observers familiar with the Gay Games believe the organizations selected to host the event in nearly all previous years have been LGBT groups or coalitions that were picked to hold both the games and LGBT cultural events that traditionally have accompanied the Gay Games.

“Informed speculation and conventional wisdom is increasingly lining up around the [Greater Cleveland] Sports Commission eventually being awarded the license to hold the 2014 Games,” reported Gay People’s Chronicle, an Ohio LGBT news publication.

The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is a non-gay group.

Although Cleveland officials were expected to carry forward the plans submitted by Synergy Foundation and approved by the FGG last year, Cleveland spokesperson Andrea Taylor told the Blade on Tuesday that she could not comment on specific plans or details.

Minor said he would not object to a straight organization getting the license. But he noted that historically, gay groups have won the bids to organize the games because FGG leaders determined they were most sensitive to the cultural, social and civil rights goals of the FGG and the LGBT community.

According to Minor, the FGG General Assembly specifically voted at its 2009 meeting to approve the Metropolitan Washington Gaymes as the runner up for the 2014 Gay Games. He said it was “widely understood” that the Games would go to the runner up group and its home city should the organization winning the bid fail to fulfill its obligations under its licensing contract.

“We certainly support the Gay Games movement. And we think it’s important that they abide by their own rules and that they abide by the general principles of fair play and the will of the General Assembly, which was quite clear,” he said.

“So I think the Federation owes Washington and indeed the whole Gay Games community a real explanation on this,” he said.

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HME Consulting and Advocacy stands on frontline of LGBTQ policy

Heidi Ellis is a consultant who doesn’t take clients ‘not aligned with my mission’

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‘Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,’ says Heidi Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Ellis)

September is here, which means Congress and the D.C. Council return from their August recess and life for consultant Heidi Ellis quickly gets busy. 

Her days are filled with negotiating with Council members, phone calls with clients, and policy planning for advocacy groups. The organizations she represents are looking to her to help them push policy and she hopes to guide them to victory. 

Ellis’s company, HME Consulting and Advocacy, came after years of working in the public and private sectors as a consultant. In 2019, Ellis decided to shift her focus to work that stood at the center of the intersections in which she lives. She sought to figure out how she could better serve her community as a Black queer Latino woman. Ellis recognized that there was a niche for mission-driven consulting in the District. 

“I was sought out and recruited by a lot of organizations that wanted me and I took a beat, because I was like ‘Do I want to go back into a machine where even if I do effect change, I have to answer to someone?’”she said, in reference to consulting agencies that were in pursuit of her talent. Ultimately, she decided against continuing her work under another company. “By doing what I do, I have much more flexibility for one to say ‘Yes’ but also to say ‘No’.”

Although Ellis has considered going back to working in the corporate space, she still loves the flexibility of being able to be nimble as a private consultant. 

Although Ellis doesn’t work entirely in the advocacy space, her consulting clients still align with her personal values. She joked that she differs strongly from the stereotypical money-driven D.C. consultant who sports Brooks Brothers suits on K Street. 

“Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,” she said. “I don’t take any clients that are not aligned with my mission.”

Her mission is simple, Ellis is “committed to elevating issues that sit at the nexus of education, mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color.”

“The more marginalized you are, the more you suffer from the failures of policy and the gaps of service,” she said. 

As a consultant in the advocacy space, Ellis does the behind-the-scenes work for organizations to help correct these policy failures and close the gaps. Whether she is facilitating training for companies to better understand how to serve their LGBTQ communities, or she is on the frontline of education policy changes –– Ellis aims to only do work that she is passionate about.

She said that the balance of her combined passion and level-headedness help her to build trusting relationships with her clients and in the end, “Get stuff  done.”

Since starting her organization, some of her proudest work has been done with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition. The coalition is made up of more than 30 organizations that aim to advocate for investments and policy changes that affect LGBTQ lives. As a leader of this coalition, her services include policy support, facilitation, training, initiative development and organizational redesign. Since she began leading the coalition, they have raised more than $5 million of investments in LGBTQ programs.

Later this fall, she will work with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition along with the ANC Rainbow Caucus to convene the first LGBTQ+ Housing Summit from Nov. 29-30.

“The one thing we all recognize is that housing is the common denominator of every other social affliction facing LGBTQ communities,” she said.  

At the summit they will focus on the barriers within the current housing system and explore revitalized approaches to dealing with the current housing market. To pre-register for the event, visit the LGBTQ+ Housing Summit website.

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Comings & Goings

Former D.C. resident opens art gallery in San Francisco

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Jonathan Carver Moore

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.

Congratulations to Jonathan Carver Moore on opening his contemporary art gallery in San Francisco. The gallery specializes in working with emerging and established artists who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women. As the only openly gay Black male-owned gallery in San Francisco, Moore is committed to amplifying the voices of the often-underrepresented artists through a Black queer lens. He said, “I want the gallery to be a place where the LGBTQ+ community and people of color walk inside and see themselves knowing that they belong. I want us to be able to collect work from and support underrepresented artists who are often overlooked, but add some much value to our culture.”

Moore is also the founder of ARTUCATED, a digital journal that helps share, spotlight, and educate people about marginalized artists. Previously he was director of Donor Relations, Partnerships & Programming Director with the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco. He was Communications Manager, Rosenberg Foundation; and Associate Director of Public Relations, Out & Equal, San Francisco Bay Area. 

Moore earned his bachelor’s in Sociology, Women’s Studies, from George Washington University in D.C.; and his master’s in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications, also from George Washington University.

Congratulations also to Jim Bobick on having his paintings included in a permanent collection by Saks Fifth Avenue. He said, “I am thrilled Saks Fifth Avenue chose my art for its permanent collection. I have long been a customer of the store and an admirer of the fashion designers represented there. I am especially pleased to know my work is on public view in the Chevy Chase, Maryland store. Not only did I grow up in the area, for part of my education I attended art school nearby, where I had the good fortune of studying under the notable painter Allen Dester Carter of Washington, D.C., whose work is in the Smithsonian collection. My ties to the Washington area art scene and my love of Saks makes this professional moment especially important to me. I am grateful and honored the store chose my paintings for their collection.” 

He has had numerous exhibitions of his work, including: Gallery 101 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (solo); Coral Springs Museum of Art, Coral Springs, Fla. (group); Studio B “Delicacies” Washington, D.C. (group); Columbia Art Center “Abstract Paintings” (solo); and Gallery 50 “Freestyle” (solo) Rehoboth Beach, Del. He has been written about in several publications including Michael Mills, Jim Bobick Creates Landscapes of the Mind at Gallery 101, New Times; Arterpillar South Florida Arts Blog; Stefan Braham, Eclectic Expressions, Coastal Style Magazine; Artist Looks Beyond the Temporal Beauty, Coast Press.

He earned his bachelor’s in Visual Arts, University of Maryland, College Park, Fine Art; and attended the Maryland College of Art and Design. 

Jim Bobick
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Arts & Entertainment

2023 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalists through October 2nd!

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It is time to celebrate the best of LGBTQ+ DC! You nominated and now we have our finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2023 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 2nd. Our 2023 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 19th and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 20th.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, Heineken, PEPCO, Shakers, Infinite Legacy.

VOTE BELOW OR BY CLICKING HERE!

ARE YOU A BEST OF FINALIST? DOWNLOAD ASSETS HERE!

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