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Sports




Gay Games 9 FAQ
Answers to your Gay Games 9 questions
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
This story is part of a special series.


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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The Gay Games begin Saturday, August 9th with opening ceremonies. We have the answers for anything you want to know about the events! Anything you want to know? Comment below and we'll get back to you!

What are the Gay Games?

The Gay Games are an international sporting and cultural event held every four years. It will be held in Cleveland and Akron August 9-16, 2014.  Organizers, many from the Cleveland area, put together a bid for the games. In 2009, it was announced that Cleveland had beat out Boston and Washington, D.C. to host the event. Launched in 1982, the Games invite participation from all athletes—regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic or artistic ability, age, physical challenge or health status. The Games offer a safe environment for LGBT competitors and are open to anyone 18 years or older. Typically, about 10% of participants are non-LGBT, often friends and family who participate to show their support. More information about GG9 can be found here

What is the Federation of Gay Games?

The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) is the umbrella organization responsible for managing the pre-eminent international LGBT sports and cultural event, the quadrennial Gay Games. Dr. Tom Waddell, a 1968 U.S. Olympic decathlete, envisioned the dream of a multi-sport competition as a showcase for the gay and lesbian community, and in 1982 he and others in San Francisco established the Gay Games as an Olympic-style event. That year, 1,350 participants from 12 countries gathered in late August to compete in 17 sports. The world of LGBT athletics was changed forever as participants returned to their cities and countries, inspired by Gay Games I to establish local clubs for year-round training and competition. More information can be found here.

Where will participants come from?

The event draws participants from nearly 50 countries, particularly North America, Western Europe, and Australia/New Zealand. Participants will travel from cities with large LGBT populations like Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. In addition, we are reaching out to mid-sized Midwestern cities within driving distance of Cleveland and Akron. It’s expected that 20,000 people will be attending and/or participating in the events around Northeast Ohio.

Where will events take place?

In Cleveland, events will take places at facilities including the Convention Center and Cleveland State University facilities, plus locations at Case Western Reserve University. In Akron, events will be held at University of Akron facilities and Firestone Country Club. Open water swimming will be held at Edgewater Beach and beach volleyball at Whiskey Island. A link to the schedule of events can be found here.

Who can participate in the Gay Games?

“The Gay Games are not separatist, they are not exclusive, they are not oriented to victory, and they are not for commercial gain,” wrote Dr. Tom Waddell after the first Gay Games. “They intended to bring a global community together in friendship, to experience participation, to elevate consciousness and self-esteem, and to achieve a form of cultural and intellectual synergy. We have the opportunity to take the initiative on critical issues that affect the quality of life.” Anyone can participate in the Gay Games, whatever their sexual orientation. It is estimated that about 10% of participants in each edition of the Gay Games are straight, often friends and family members of LGBT participants who participate to show their support and solidarity.

How many people participate in the Gay Games?

Since 1994, each Gay Games has drawn 10,000-12,000 participants. That is comparable to the Summer Olympics. The Gay Games are one of the world’s largest amateur athletic events, and the largest event open to all adults. Gay Games VIII in Cologne in 2010 attracted some 10,000 participants from about 70 countries. Gay Games VII in Chicago in 2006 attracted 11,500 participants from 70 countries. Gay Games VI in Sydney Australia in 2002 attracted 12,100 participants. Information about Gay Games I to Gay Games VI is available here.

Can elite athletes participate in the Gay Games?

The Gay Games are open to anyone regardless of ability. The following are elite athletes who have competed in the Gay Games.

  • Judith Arndt, world champion and Olympic silver medal cyclist, Germany
  • Bruce Hayes, Olympic gold medal swimmer, U.S.
  • Greg Louganis, five-time Olympic medalist for diving, U.S.
  • Leigh-Ann Naidoo, Olympic beach volleyball player, South Africa
  • Petra Rössner, Olympic gold medal cyclist, Germany
  • Michelle Ferris, Olympic silver medal cyclist, Australia
  • Ji Wallace, Olympic trampoline silver medalist, Australia

Chris Morgan, a world champion drug-free powerlifter from the UK, got his competitive start in the Gay Games and has gone on to win world championship titles in his sport, and widespread acceptance in his community.

What sports are on offer at the next Gay Games?

Here is the current list:

Aquatics Diving
Aquatics Open Water Swim
Aquatics Swimming
Aquatics Synchronized Swimming
Aquatics Water Polo
Aquatics Pink Flamingo
Badminton
Basketball
Beach Volleyball
Billiards
Bodybuilding
Bowling
Cycling
DanceSport
Darts
Figure Skating
Flag Football
Football (Soccer)
Golf
Ice Hockey
Marathon & Road Races
Martial Arts
Powerlifting
Racquetball
Rodeo
Rowing
Rugby (Union)
Sailing
Softball
Squash
Tennis
Track & Field
Triathlon
Volleyball
Wrestling

All info on the sports program can be found here.

How will participants and/or spectators be able to get to all of the events around the region?

Public transit systems including the Greater Cleveland RTA (Cuyahoga County), Metro RTA (Summit County) and Laketran (Lake County) offer free rides to participants with GG9 credentials. The public also will be able to purchase public transit tickets to shuttle between events. More information can be found here.

What Gay Games events are not to miss?

WKSU talked to GG9 Events Director Rob Smitherman, who suggested some not-to-miss events:

  • Opening Ceremonies:
Opening Ceremonies include a parade of participants from over 50 countries entering Quicken Loans Arena. Performers include Lance Bass, Broadway actress Andrea McArdle and the Pointer Sisters. More information can be found here.
  • Rodeo
Presented by The International Gay Rodeo Association, this is the first time the rodeo is merged with the Gay Games. More than 100 are expected to compete in the rodeo's 13 events at the Summit County Fairgrounds. For more info on the rodeo, click here.
  • Figure skating
Figure skating will be held at Serpentini Arena in Lakewood where U.S. Olympic gold medalist Carol Heiss-Jenkins trains figure skaters year-round to compete on the international stage. During the Gay Games, skaters will take to the same ice and combine artistry, creativity and physical stamina in beautiful, choreographed expressions of art and movement. The figure skating competition consists of solo and pairs categories in several age groups. More information can be found here.
  • DanceSport
The event will be held at Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. The competitions include International Style, American Style, Country Western Style and Open Style, with separate categories for men and women. More information can be found here.
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