As a writer, blogger, athlete, coach, trainer, and activist for better physical fitness in the LGBTQ+ community. I have made no secret of my passion for LGBTQ+ sports, sporting events and really anything that helps encourage people to be more active and fit in their daily life.
From the good, to the bad, I have made my voice heard because this is a cause in which I am not only passionate about, but also strongly believe in. With my first real introduction to the larger world of LGBTQ+ Sport at the 2010 Gay Games and taking part in various events and involved in many different LGBTQ+ sports teams and organizations. I have even built an entire business and career around this cause because I see the potential in it to empower people in the community to be more confident within themselves to accept who they are.
Over the past 2.5 years, this passion of mine has been put to the test, on levels in which I wasn’t completely prepared for. Starting with the mismanagement, incompetence and general disorganization of the 2015 Eurogames in Stockholm. Following the episode of Jerry Springer that was the 2016 Asia Pacific Outgames in Auckland and the lack of organization that led to the cancellation of the 2016 North American Outgames in St. Louis. Finally coming to heed in 2017 with the whole World Outgames Miami debacle that ultimately lead to end of the Gay and Lesbian International “Sports” Association. See my opinions on that here, here and here.)
While sport specific LGBTQ+ organizations have had to do a lot of damage control to save their own skins and even the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (parent organization of the Eurogames) successfully redeemed themselves after the Stockholm disaster. People’s confidence, enthusiasm, interest and willingness to invest in such events has come to an all-time low. More than a few athletes are beginning to question, is the time, effort and cost of training and traveling to compete at a large LGBTQ+ sporting event really worth it?
Organizing a large scale, multi-sport event is not an easy task. The cost considerations alone are a lot to comprehend. Fundraising, mobilizing people and resources, gathering support and involvement from the community to the logistics of each individual sport in addition to the other events that take place. It is indeed a very challenging experience. Hiccups and mistakes are inevitable, but there are differences from occasional logistical problems and serious, systemic mismanagement. We’ve experienced much more of the latter in the last 2 years than the former.
Especially if the organizers fail at the most basic foundations of organizing a quality tournament or feel like they can just outright cancel the event on the first day without apology? At no point in the organization of the tournament, should the stresses of organizing the tournament be felt by the athletes who are competing in the tournament. Who wants to waste all that money to travel and compete when it becomes nothing more than a stressful event full of disappointment?
Athletes travel to compete at their best events to put forth their best effort, to express themselves through sport, and most importantly… to have fun. When an athlete fully invests themselves in their training and experience, the result is truly remarkable. My first Gay Games was truly one of the best moments I’ve ever experienced, such a thrill and spectacle that I have only experienced a few times since then. That experience is what made me believe in this cause in the first place. If the LGBTQ+ sports movement is to move forward, then we better make that happen again.
Gay Games, while having absolutely no ties or involvement with the events previously mentioned. Have been put in the awkward position of cleaning up the messes left by others. After Miami, many athletes were expressing their doubts about going to the Paris 2018 Gay Games. With Paris and the Federation of Gay Games working very hard to distance themselves and show that they are putting on a higher-quality event. The marketing machine is in over drive and the pressure for Paris 2018 to deliver is quite high. Even small, logistical errors in the Paris 2018 program are going to be noticed by the thousands of athletes who have been feeling burned by the recent disasters. But the Gay Games is where it all started, so it’s natural that the next iteration of the Gay Games has the opportunity and potential to reassert the LGBTQ+ Sports movement in the minds of the very athletes that success is dependent upon.
By all appearances, Paris 2018 is shaping up to be what it promises, not just a spectacular experience but also redemption in the belief that LGBTQ+ Sports really is worth investing in. Hopefully they will deliver.