Gay Games bids unveiled
by Roger Brigham
Boston offers same-sex marriage, big city culture in a small city package, and a historic tea party. Cleveland offers rock and roll, cowboys on horses, and Dennis Kucinich. Washington, D.C. offers historic monuments, political pull, and Martin Luther King Jr. Such are the charms bid organizations in each of those cities hope will lure the 2014 Gay Games to their home turf.
Currently, members of the Federation of Gay Games are poring through hundreds of pages of bid documents submitted by Boston 2014, Cleveland Synergy Foundation, and Metropolitan Washington Gaymes. An online question and answer period will ensue next month, a FGG task force will visit each city this summer, and an eyeball-to-eyeball meeting will be held with representatives of all three organizations at FGG's annual meeting this September in Cologne, where one will be chosen.
Handicapping this early in the game who should be the favorite is a dicey proposition at best – many thought Paris was a lock for the 2010 Gay Games and others thought Johannesburg was an emotional favorite before Cologne won that bid – but the bid books reveal a lot about the respective organizations' abilities to deliver what the Gay Games are seeking.
Boston is banking on its long and rich LGBT sports history, the cachet of its historic architecture, and its ability to pack most of its sports offerings in a small geographic area, with many events held at Harvard University and Boston University. All three bidding organizations open their documents by quoting Gay Games founder Dr. Tom Waddell, but Boston immediately dismisses the ability of any other bidder (or former Games host, for that matter) to deliver what it could deliver.
"We have, without a doubt," the Boston bid declares, "a team of organizations and individuals from both the local LGBT and non-LGBT communities with the ability to stage the best Gay Games in the history of the event. That track record is unmatched by any of the finalist cities. The progressive nature and equality of the Boston and Massachusetts community will provide an environment of openness and comfort that the Gay Games has not seen in 25 years."
Cleveland, whose bid runs more than 400 pages of white type on colored backgrounds (not easy on the eyes of aging athletes) is the relative newcomer on the block – a fact its bid is very conscious of.
"We see this as an opportunity to play up the 'Why Cleveland' factor as our mantra," its bid states. "Before we can solicit excitement about [Gay Games IX], we need to generate excitement about Cleveland's role as an ambassador to the community, so that friends and allies will embrace the opportunity to travel to Ohio and participate in GGIX.
"And to put it simply, why not Cleveland? If we look at the Gay Games as a celebration of our diversity and an opportunity to educate the broader community about the LGBT culture, there is no better place to create surround-sound acceptance than the heartland of the United States."
Cleveland pins much of its hopes by drawing comparisons to nearby Chicago, whose 2006 Gay Games were the first ones not to bleed cash since the original 1982 and 1986 events in San Francisco. (CSF even said it used Chicago's federal tax returns to draw up its budget estimates.) "As recently evidenced," the bid states, "Chicago has now been ranked the fifth most-popular destination city for the LGBT community, replacing Fort Lauderdale – and the 2006 Gay Games has been credited for this amazing change."
Question is, will the FGG want to return to the heartland so soon after Chicago? And some of the Cleveland packaging seems focused on what may be a relative non-issue by 2014: competition from the Outgames. Chicago had to go virtually head-to-head with the Outgames in Montreal, which badly curtailed Canadian registration. Cleveland's bid contains the inclusion of rodeo. That
Not to mention animal rights protesters.
Although the Metropolitan Washington Gaymes does not cite as lengthy a connection to the Gay Games movement, it certainly competes with Boston in terms of active LGBT sports organizations and is the only one that can document sustained involvement in FGG's internal affairs over the past six years. Team D.C. became a member of the FGG in 2003; neither Team Boston not Team Cleveland is a member. MWG Chair Brent Minor has served as the FGG's co-president and officer of development and played an instrumental role in the organizing of a successful 25th anniversary fundraiser in San Francisco two years ago.
D.C.'s sports venues are scattered over two states and the District, but MWG argues in its bid that having the games in the nation's capital is likely to help it sustain the current economic doldrums better than the other cities, and that having foreign embassies in the city will enable it to better market the Games and bring in scholarship athletes.
Cleveland and Boston use rainbow colors in their logos; the D.C. logo shows athletes competing ... Boston and D.C. pledge to reduce their carbon imprint; Cleveland does not focus on environmental impact ... Boston would hold opening ceremonies at Harvard Stadium and closing ceremonies at Fenway Park; D.C. would use Nationals Park and RFK Stadium; Cleveland would close and open at Cleveland Browns Stadium ... Boston and D.C. propose July 26-August 2; Cleveland says August 9-14 is better because "many countries are on holiday at this time" ... Boston would drop martial arts, beach volleyball, rugby, and powerlifting ... Cleveland would put women's softball in Akron and hold track and field in Berea ... D.C. would focus rugby on women so as not to compete with the Bingham Cup and add an orchestra event, gospel chorus, and events geared for athletes bringing children.
TMAA pays tribute to dead boy
Triangle Martial Arts Association has declared Friday, April 17, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Memorial Day in tribute to an 11-year-old Massachusetts boy who hanged himself last week after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother 's weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network stated in a news release that this is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year.
Friday also is GLSEN's annual National Day of Silence event, where participating students take some form of a vow of silence to call attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.
TMAA President Ken Craig, who declared the memoriam, said Walker-Hoover's death "sadly reflects a known and troubling pattern in the education systems of many countries around the world."
"Carl, a junior at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on April 17, the same day hundreds of thousands of students will participate in the 13th annual National Day of Silence," Craig added.