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Local athletes excited for Paris Gay Games

Quadrennial competition kicks off next month

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Team DC, Cleveland Gay Games, gay news, Washington Blade
Paris Gay Games, Team DC, Cleveland Gay Games, gay news, Washington Blade

The last Gay Games was held in Cleveland; this year, athletes are headed to Paris. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In three weeks, athletes from D.C. will take on competitors from around the world at the 10th edition of the Gay Games in Paris.

The Gay Games are held every four years and the venues in Paris will host 12,000 athletes from more than 80 countries who will compete in 36 sports.

Local athletes from multiple sports will march in the opening ceremonies together under the D.C. banner in a uniform that was organized by Team DC.

John Guzman is slated to compete in his third Gay Games and is embracing a new sport in Paris. Previously, he competed in soccer and squash. He is now a member of Lambda Links and will be golfing individually along with playing in the team event with his partner, Steve Sparks.

“The Ryder Cup is being held in Paris in September and the golf superintendent is gay. He is opening the course to all the Gay Games participants after our competition is over. I am so geeked out to play on that course,” says Guzman. “Our community has multiple things that tie us together and I love that the Gay Games offers commonalities that can be built in other ways.”

The water polo competition will include 32 teams competing in two divisions. Kris Pritchard will be attending his second Gay Games with his teammates from the Washington Wetskins.

“Now more than ever, this event is an opportunity for the LGBT community to show the world what it means to put aside the differences our countries might have,” Pritchard says. “It’s going to be an amazing week and I tip my hat to the volunteers and organizers who are involved to make this happen.”

David Monroe will travel to Paris with players from the DC Sentinels basketball team. Members from their squads have medaled in the last two Gay Games.

“I was at the Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998 and Chicago in 2006. I look forward to seeing how the gay community is still coming together for inclusive competition and fun,” says Monroe. “It will be a great 10 days.”

The triathlon in Paris will be contested in the sprint distance and Olympic distance. Bryan Frank from TriOut will be competing in his second Gay Games.

“It will be exciting to take on an Olympic distance triathlon outside of Paris and defend my title after winning the race in Cleveland four years ago,” Frank says. “I am also thrilled at the prospect of exploring more of the Games, seeing other events, meeting athletes and experiencing Paris.”

This will be the third Gay Games for Federal Triangles Soccer Club player Jim Ensor after competing in Cologne in 2010 and Cleveland in 2014.

“I look forward to the competition and camaraderie of an international competition. It’s such a delicate balance to compete in friendship.” Says Ensor. “I love seeing how the Games are incorporated into the city and surrounding areas along with how it is received by the city.”

Mick Bullock and his partner Justin Fritscher will be tackling their first Gay Games as members of the DC Front Runners. Both will compete in the 5K and the half marathon.

“We do everything together and running is one of our passions. We are excited to see Europe for the first time and be with over 20 of our teammates from DC Front Runners,” Bullock says. “The Gay Games are a great opportunity to come together for healthy competition and meet athletes from all over the world.”

At the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland, Logan Dawson competed with the Denver team in swimming. After moving to D.C., he joined the District of Columbia Aquatics Club in late 2017. His second Gay Games will be with his new teammates.

“I have bonded with my DCAC teammates and would feel like I was missing out if I wasn’t going with them to Paris,” says Dawson. “It’s neat to be at a sports event that is more than a swim meet and I look forward to meeting international athletes from other sports.”

Tim Murphy married Chris Walsh last month and both of them will be competing in their first Gay Games. They are members of Capital Tennis Association and will be playing singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

“We are looking forward to meeting people who have come from all over the world to play sports. It will be great to represent our country in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremonies,” Murphy says. “This is going to be part sports event and part honeymoon for us.”

Gay Games X: Paris 2018 will be held from Aug. 4-11.

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Protester with Pride flag disrupts World Cup game

Protest took place during match between Portugal and Uruguay

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(Al Jazeera screenshot)

During a World Cup match between Portugal and Uruguay Monday, a lone protester ran across the field waving a Pride flag moments after the second half kickoff.

Video and still images show the man wearing a blue T-shirt emblazoned with the Superman symbol and the phrase “Save Ukraine” on the front and “Respect for Iranian Woman” on the back.

Screenshot of news coverage at the World Cup 2022 games from Al Jazeera

Qatari security personnel chased him down and then marched him off the playing field. Israeli Public Radio correspondent Amichai Stein tweeted video clips of the incident:

FIFA had no immediate comment on the incident, the Associated Press noted reporting that in the first week of the tournament in Qatar, seven European teams lost the battle to wear multi-colored “One Love” armbands during World Cup matches. Fans also complained they weren’t allowed to bring items with rainbow colors, a symbol of LGBTQ rights, into the stadiums of the conservative Islamic emirate.

Qatar’s laws against homosexuality and treatment of LGBTQ people were flashpoints in the run-up to the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East. Qatar has said everyone was welcome, including LGBTQ fans, but that visitors should respect the nation’s culture.

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Blinken criticizes FIFA threat to fine World Cup team captains with ‘one love’ armbands

Qatar criminalizes homosexuality by death

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday criticized FIFA over its threat to sanction European soccer teams if their captains wore “one love” armbands during the 2022 World Cup.

“It’s always concerning from my perspective when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression. It’s especially so when the expression is for diversity and for inclusion,” Blinken told reporters during a press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha, the Qatari capital. “And in my judgment, at least, no one on a football pitch should be forced to choose between supporting these values and playing for their team.”

Seven European soccer teams on Monday announced their captains will not wear LGBTQ and intersex armbands during the 2022 World Cup after FIFA threatened to sanction them.

The captains of Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales had planned to wear the armbands in support of the LGBTQ and intersex community during the World Cup. The teams on Monday in a joint statement said they would not wear the armbands because FIFA had threatened to sanction them if their captains did.

The World Cup began in Qatar on Sunday.

Qatar is among the handful of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain punishable by death. A report that Human Rights Watch published last month noted several cases of “severe and repeated beatings” and “sexual harassment” of LGBTQ and intersex people while in police custody from 2019 and September 2022. 

A State Department official last week acknowledged to the Washington Blade that the U.S. raised LGBTQ and intersex rights with the Qatari government ahead of the World Cup.

The U.S. men’s soccer team while in Qatar will have a redesigned logo with the Pride flag in its badge. Blinken attended their match against Wales on Monday.

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European soccer teams won’t wear ‘one love’ armbands after FIFA threatens sanctions

World Cup began in Qatar on Sunday

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Iran plays England during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. (Screenshot via FS1)

Seven European soccer teams on Monday announced their captains will not wear LGBTQ and intersex armbands during the 2022 World Cup after FIFA threatened to sanction them.

The captains of Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales planned to wear “one love” armbands during the World Cup. The teams in a joint statement said FIFA threatened to sanction them if their captains wore them.

“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play,” read the statement. “We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision, which we believe is unprecedented.”

“As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings,” added the statement.

The World Cup began in Qatar on Sunday.

Qatar is among the handful of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain punishable by death.

Human Rights Watch last month published a report that noted “arbitrary” arrests of LGBTQ and intersex people between 2019 and September 2022 and several cases of “severe and repeated beatings” and “sexual harassment in police custody” during the aforementioned period. World Cup Ambassador Khalid Salman earlier this month described homosexuality as “damage in the mind” during an interview with a German television station.

Peter Tatchell, a British activist, on Oct. 25 protested the country’s LGBTQ and intersex rights record while standing outside the National Museum of Qatar in Doha, the country’s capital. A State Department official on Nov. 18 acknowledged to the Washington Blade that the U.S. raised LGBTQ and intersex rights with the Qatari government ahead of the World Cup.

The U.S. men’s soccer team while in Qatar will have a redesigned logo with the Pride flag in its badge. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend their match against Wales on Monday.

England played Iran on Monday. The Netherlands on Monday will play Senegal.

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