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Gay Games-OutGames plan to merge

Leaders of two LGBT sports groups eye ‘One World Event’ in 2022

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OutGames, Gay Games, gay news, Washington Blade
OutGames, Gay Games, gay news, Washington Blade

‘It’s going to take a great deal of compromise,’ said Brent Minor of Team D.C. regarding the potential merger of Gay Games and OutGames. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Leaders of the two quadrennial LGBT international sports competitions – the Gay Games and the World OutGames – signed a memorandum of understanding in May establishing what they say is a preliminary framework for merging the events in 2022.

Officials with the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) and the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA), which organizes the OutGames, said the decision to move ahead with plans for a merger was prompted by the results of a widely distributed online survey of members of both organizations.

According to the officials, the more than 2,000 responses to the survey showed that 88.7 percent of respondents support having a single quadrennial sports, human rights and cultural event in 2022.

The Gay Games were first held in San Francisco in 1982 after gay Olympics athlete Tom Waddell, who is credited with founding the event, was forced to drop the name he first envisioned, the “Gay Olympics,” after the International Olympics Committee insisted it held exclusive legal rights the Olympics name.

The Gay Games continued every four years since its founding year in San Francisco, attracting thousands of LGBT athletes and spectators in cities in North America and Europe as the sole international LGBT sporting competition until 2006, when the first World OutGames competition was held in Montreal.

The OutGames first emerged two years earlier, in 2004, when an irreconcilable disagreement surfaced between the FGG and the group it initially selected to organize the Gay Games in Montreal for 2006. After protracted and sometimes acrimonious negotiations failed, the Montreal organizers broke away from the FGG and announced they would organize their own event in Montreal called the OutGames.

The FGG then reopened the bidding process for another city to host the Gay Games, and Chicago was selected as the new host city. Both events took place within a week of each other in the summer of 2006, and two international quadrennial LGBT sports events have been held ever since.

Nearly all of the dual events have attracted far fewer athletes and spectators than the Gay Games had attracted for its events prior to the split.

“They have to come together with one event because having two events has really hurt both events, and the community wants just one quadrennial event to focus on,” said Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of OutSports Blog, a highly regarded online publication about LGBT sports issues.

“The real question is what does it look like and what is it called,” Zeigler told the Washington Blade. “And for me, it would be such a shame to lose the name Gay Games.”

Zeigler and others supportive of the Gay Games say the Gay Games name and brand have become an important part of the LGBT community’s history and should be preserved.

Among those agreeing with Zeigler is Jessica Waddell Lewinstein, the daughter of the late Gay Games founder Tom Waddell. However, unlike Zeigler, who favors a merger, Lewinstein has come out strongly against the proposed merger as disclosed by the two groups.

“In general, I’m totally open to merging two events, if it is done properly and makes sense, but I’m not seeing anything that tells me that this is one of those situations,” she told the Windy City Times in July.

Officials with the FGG and GLISA have been cautious about publicly discussing potential stumbling blocks to a merger agreement, saying instead that the memorandum of understanding is a work in progress. Both sides have said they are hopeful that a final agreement can be reached because their respective members and supporters strongly favor a single LGBT international sports event.

“All of us at the FGG are extremely thrilled to see things moving forward in a positive manner,” said FGG Co-President Kurt Dahl in a statement in March.

“GLISA is excited on the progress of this vital collaboration that benefits the worldwide LGBT sporting community, GLISA Co-President Tamara Adrian said at the same time.

The memorandum of understanding calls for following recommendations and proposals established by representatives of both groups during a meeting earlier this year in Cologne, Germany in which a lengthy and detailed document referred to as the Cologne Report was drafted and approved.

Among other things, the MOU provides for the creation of a Transition Commission, which will “steer the development of a single organizational body to deliver future One World Events,” a statement released by the two groups says.

Officials on both sides have also said that a merger of the FGG and GLISA is just one of several options under consideration. A single World Event, as the two sides refer to a merged LGBT sports competition, could also be put together by the creation of a newly created entity separate from the FGG and GLISA, officials with the two groups have said.

A One World event could not be held any sooner than 2022, the officials have said, because plans for the next Gay Games and World OutGames are already solidified. The next World OutGames is set to take place in Miami in 2017. The next Gay Games is slated to take place in Paris in 2018.

Meanwhile, an official Working Group consisting of representatives of the FGG and GLISA has been conferring with LGBT sports organizations in North America and Europe to obtain input on the best ways to bring about a merger of the two events.

“We hosted a town hall meeting in June with representatives of the working group,” said Brent Minor, president of Team D.C., an umbrella group representing D.C.-area LGBT sports groups and teams.

Among those participating in the meeting was Les Johnson, an FGG board member from D.C.

“It is clearly a desire among U.S. sports groups to have something in 2022,” Minor said. “That is the goal. A lot of people feel that way,” he said. “The key is can these two organizations that have been estranged come together for one event? It will require compromise.”

Minor said that in addition to the issue of what the joint event should be called, the two sides remain divided over whether a human rights conference should be a major component of the 2022 event and all those that follow. The OutGames organizers have long favored and included in their event such a conference.

Minor, who has been a longtime supporter of the Gay Games, said the Gay Games side doesn’t think such a conference is essential to a quadrennial LGBT sports competition.

“We all want it to be a sports and cultural event,” he said. “We think sports should be the primary focus.”

But Minor added that Team D.C. officials are hopeful that the talks will be successful because uniting the two organizations to hold a single international event is in the best interests of the LGBT community.

“It’s going to take a great deal of compromise,” he said.

Gay Games 9, GG9, International Gay Games, Cleveland, Ohio, gay news, Washington Blade

The Opening Ceremony to the 2014 International Gay Games was held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

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Gus Kenworthy skis for Great Britain at 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

The freestyle skiing Olympic medalist continues to advocate for sport to become a more accepting place for openly gay athletes

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Gus Kenworthy (Screenshot courtesy Beijing Olympic Winter Games/IOC)

Out British-American freestyle skier, actor, and YouTuber Gus Kenworthy, will be competing in his third Olympic Winter Games, but his first for Team GB next month for the 2022 Beijing Games. In 2014 and 2018 Kenworthy represented the USA where during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia he became an Olympic Silver Medalist.

In an interview recorded in December, Kenworthy stressed his personal mantra of ‘Let people be themselves.’ The freestyle skiing Olympic medalist continues to advocate for sport to become a more accepting place for openly gay athletes.

Having recently won bronze in slopestyle for Team USA at PyeongChang 2018, Kenworthy is aiming for another podium place at his “third and final Games”, where he’s focusing on halfpipe at Beijing 2022, representing Great Britain. Kenworthy said with quiet determination that this year’s Winter Games will be his last as an Olympic competitor.

Kenworthy joins a “record number” of openly LGBTQ+ athletes heading to the Beijing games, Outsports reported. The 2018 Winter Olympics featured 15 out queer athletes, and Outsports noted that the Beijing games will see more openly LGBTQ+ athletes than previously Winter Games.

PinkNewsUK notes that there was a question as to whether Kenworthy would be able to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics, which kick off in February.

Just weeks ago, Kenworthy shared in an Instagram post that he recently got a “bad concussion” while at a training camp in Switzerland.

He explained that he’s had a “few serious” traumatic brain injuries in the past so the “seriousness of each added concussion has been stressed to me”.

 

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Out professional soccer player calls out ‘homophobic abuse’ from crowd

The Adelaide United player said he had “no words” to describe his disappointment at being the target of anti-gay insults from the crowd

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Photo courtesy of Josh Cavallo Instagram

Professional soccer player Josh Cavallo, who became the only openly gay top-flight male professional footballer last year, told his Instagram followers over the weekend that he experienced “homophobic abuse” during his last game. 

The Adelaide United player said he had “no words” to describe his disappointment at being the target of anti-gay insults from the crowd at AAMI Park during his team’s Saturday game against the Melbourne Victory.

“As a society it shows we still face these problems in 2022,” he wrote. “This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold these people accountable. Hate never will win. I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.”

Cavallo added that he was also targeted after the game online. 

“To @instagram I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received,” he said. “I knew truely being who I am that I was going to come across this. It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) said it was “shocked and saddened” to hear Cavallo’s reports of “homophobic bullying,” according to the Guardian

“Our players, staff and fans have the right to feel safe on and off the pitch,” APL CEO Danny Townsend said. “There is no place for bullying, harassment or abuse in Australian football and we have zero tolerance for this harmful behaviour.”

The APL is working with both teams to investigate the incident, adding that sanctions will be issued to anyone involved. 

In a statement, Adelaide United Chief Executive Officer Nathan Kosmina said that the team was “appalled” at the “verbal abuse” that Cavallo received. 

“Adelaide United is proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club, and to see one of our players subjected to homophobic abuse is disappointing and upsetting,” he said. “Josh continues to show immense courage and we join him in calling out abuse, which has no place in society, and it will not be tolerated by our Club.”

The Melbourne Victory added that it “sees football as a platform to unite fans no matter what background. Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches.”

At the end of his Instagram message, Cavallo thanked those sending him positive messages, love and support. 

“Love will always win,” he said. 

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Transgender climber completes 5th of 7 highest summits

Erin Parisi is the first out trans mountain climber to reach such heights. Next up she’ll make a second attempt to conquer Mount Denali.

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Erin Parisi (Photo courtesy of Erin Parisi)

SANTIAGO, Chile – Erin Parisi just returned from the bottom of the world, but already the out transgender  woman has set her sights on her next challenge in her mission to conquer the highest summits of each of the seven continents. 

”I have been trying to train and get to the tops of the highest mountain on every continent: Seven Peaks, seven summits, seven continents,” she said. “I just finished Antarctica, which is an extraordinarily difficult climb as far as logistics, as far as dealing with the weather and the environment, a mountain that’s only been climbed 2,000 times before.”

(Photo courtesy of Erin Parisi)

It was New Year’s Day when she spoke by phone to the Los Angeles Blade, from a hotel room in Santiago, Chile, where it’s summertime. Five summits down, two more to go. 

“In order, the first five are Mount Kosciusko in Australia. Then I did Kilimanjaro a second time — I climbed it once manifesting as a dude, and I decided that I wanted to do them all post-transition,” said Parisi. “Next, I did Mount Elbrus in Russia and then I did Aconcagua in South America, not too far from where I’m sitting right now.”

Parisi, 45, reflected on both her climb 16,050 feet to the summit of Vinson Massif in Antarctica, and her plans to return later this year to the tallest spot in North America: Mount Denali, 20,310 feet above sea level. Not the highest of the seven summits but considered by many experienced climbers to be the hardest. 

“Last year, we got flattened by wind,” said Parisi, who was disappointed that neither she nor anyone on her team were able to reach the summit due to those conditions and injuries. “I want to go back and have a little chat with Denali.” 

It certainly was challenging for Parisi, who hurt her hand so badly in last summer’s attempt, during Pride Month, that she requires surgery. She posted on Instagram back then, that she thought she had dislocated a finger in a rush to set up camp as they ascended to 14K feet, and it set off doubts that made her question continuing. Alone for two days, stranded for a total of six days in subzero temperatures by a vicious wind storm with gusts up to 60 mph, Parisi wrote that she “rested, journaled, meditated, shed a few tears,” and decided “Climbing isn’t about holding on, it’s about letting go.”

Good thing she did; It turns out Parisi did more than dislocate a finger. 

“There are a series of tendons that come down your pointer finger and around the base of your palm, called the volar plate, and that tendon got stuck in some climbing gear,” she said. “It looks like a dislocation. When it happened, I relocated it pretty quickly, but the pain was kind of unbearable for the next week or two. So, I finally went to the doctor last fall and they looked at it and they said, ‘It’s not going to get better. You tore up the ligaments and broken the volar plate.’ So, I have to have that reconstructed.”

That means she lived with that injury for four months and even climbed Vinson Massif without the benefit of her dominant right hand. Parisi credits her wife with finally convincing her to get it looked at.

“I just figured I was getting old, and it was sore, but she talked me into going to the doctor eventually,” said Parisi, uttering the words every spouse loves to see in print. “Yeah, she was right, like usual!”

Next up, Parisi said she will make a second attempt to conquer Mount Denali in Alaska. “That’s going to be next, sometime in summer of 2022.” And then next year: Mount Everest, the last of the seven summits, and at 29,050 feet, the tallest. 

“2023 is the 70th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s expedition, and we want to be up there for the 70th anniversary,” she said. “I think it’s a little-known fact that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had a trans member on their team. And we want to tell her story.” That would be the story of Jan Morris, a journalist for The Times of London, who died in 2020.

Given her location, Parisi has been out of touch with news of the world as well as what’s been happening with her wife and their nine-year-old child in Colorado. She also missed both Christmas and New Year’s as well as her birthday. Well, almost missed, thanks to a surprise celebration organized by her fellow climbers and organizers back home, which she shared on Instagram

(Photo courtesy of Erin Parisi)

“My team and the @climbingsevensummits team surprised me by serving dessert bubbles 🥂 and cheesecake, and leading the entire camp in 2 rounds of “Happy Birthday.” I was completely embarrassed, but my mind was set at ease and I warmed to the idea that I might just fit with this crew climbing through New Year.”

Parisi really needed that boost; She was having doubts again. “Imposter syndrome is real, and after missing the Denali summit last May, I was confident I didn’t belong here,” she wrote on Instagram. That feeling stemmed from feeling as if she was “the only trans person” on the continent, not just last month, but ever. 

When she returned to civilization, the Los Angeles Blade caught her up on the latest controversies dogging the transgender population: hate directed at both UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas and Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider, simply because they’re winning their respective competitions.  

“I don’t understand it, with the Jeopardy! champion, either, because, there’s no way to say she has any advantage, or that it’s unfair to anyone, or that she’s taken something from anyone else. I mean, there’s just no argument to disparage her by,” said Parisi. “It blows my mind how stubborn people are just recognizing somebody’s right to exist. Live and let live. And I’m hoping that 2022 somehow will be a better year.”

Parisi is active in promoting transgender rights, and the flag she carries on every expedition incorporates the trans pride flag designed by Monica Helms. “We really take pride in putting the pink, blue and white up there,” she said. “I climb these summits just to kind of remind myself and remind the world that you can be yourself and you can enjoy the things you enjoy. You don’t have to make a choice.”

Other than her lifelong love of mountain climbing, which she told TripAdvisor last summer began when she was climbing trees at age 6, Parisi said she finds joy in every part of living her authentic life. 

“I find joy in the outdoors. I find joy in breathing the fresh air. I find joy in my nine-year-old child. I convinced myself I was unlovable, and now I have probably, not even probably, hands down, the most loving relationship that I’ve ever had in my life, post-transition. I find great joy in being loved and loving. I love cooking and just everything about life is better, when you’re yourself.” 

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Follow Parisi’s adventures on Instagram at @transending7 and learn more about her mission and how to support her nonprofit organization at transending7.org

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