Compete Magazine recently interviewed Tony Smith, an important member of the Compete Sports Diversity Council. He is an avid recreational athlete and a strong supporter of the Gay Games but so much more. If you don’t already know Tony, enjoy getting to learn about him.
Compete Sports Diversity: Tony, you are a founding member of the Compete Sports Diversity Council. Please tell us why sports are important to you.
Tony Smith: Sports are vital for all of us. And in the spirit of and motto for the Federation of the Gay Games, sports are all about “Participation, Inclusion and Personal Best™.” It is in sport – and life – that we “get in the game and off the bench,” that we work to include diversity regardless of age or ability, and that we all work to achieve our personal best in life.
C: You were the 2014 Compete Mark Bingham Athlete of the Year so I know that you play volleyball. What other sports do you enjoy?
TS: Along with volleyball year-round (hard-court, grass and sand), I love “Orange Theory Fitness” for the group and team approach to cardio and weight training fitness as well as regular weight training and yoga. In the near future I plan to become a certified yoga instructor since I have found the connection of mind, body and spirit to be helpful in all parts of my life; it is yet another element of life I want to share with others.
C: You’ve given so much back to the LGBTQ+ sports community. You were a long time Federation of Gay Games board member – and I could go on. Now you want to give back to the people of Denver. What inspired you to run for city council?
TS: Starting with the elections in November 2016 – like many women and minorities – I have been waking up every day with the desire to help all citizens feel connected to and represented by government. This is how November 2016 happened and why we experienced a “blue wave” in November 2018. Representation must start at the municipal level.
I have spent 18 years as a community organizer for boards of directors, city commissions and the world renowned Cherry Creek Arts Festival. I know the art of bringing people together, being proactive and getting things done. I will also represent all of Denver’s diverse citizenry, especially because our district is known for its large LGBTQ+ population. Denver has never had a gay man elected to its city council and I’m proud to have the endorsement of the National LGBTQ Victory Fund to assist our campaign in making history.
I also strongly believe that in order to care for others, we must first take responsibility for our own wellbeing. This includes matters of mental and physical fitness, a connection to the arts and access to new experiences that help us discover and live our best, most purpose-filled lives. Well-being is another inspiration for my campaign and my plan is to make our district a model of civic engagement, not just for Denver but for the whole country.
C: As a longtime Denver resident what changes do you see coming to your city?
TS: Denver is at crossroads and we need a proven collaborator and coalition builder to bring a long-term approach to our growth challenges. It is vital that we elect a leader who will fight for our neighborhoods and find collaborative solutions to the big issues facing our city. Those issues are particularly around development, transit and connecting our neighborhoods to our local government to ensure neighbors voices are being heard on those issues that directly impact them.
C: How might your service to the city council improve the city?
TS: I will always put our neighbors first, and I’ll connect, engage and serve this city like never before. My life has always been and will always be about bringing people together and getting things done. My experience as a community organizer goes back to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, to having been appointed by two Colorado governors to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, to a mayoral appointment to Denver’s Commission on Cultural Affairs, to my current commissioner roles for the Office on Aging and the Parks and Recreation advisory board. I’m known to be a passionate, energetic, dependable and approachable person. And I truly believe that’s what our local government needs.
C: I know you come from a close family. Can you tell us about your family and how they are supporting this important candidacy?
TS: My family and “chosen family” of friends have been incredible. But my husband, Jim Peterson is why I am here today with our campaign that is less than three weeks away from the election on May 7! All have been tremendously helpful to assist financially as well as in volunteer capacities, not to mention being the most incredible cheerleaders one can imagine!
C: What else can you share with our members about your mission and vision for Denver and for LGBTQ+ sports?
TS: The world will always have LGBTQ+ sports. I’ve been asked that question a million times, especially as our evolving world inches closer every minute to equality. I strongly feel that all humans travel in tribes and we all subscribe to many tribes. My tribes are community organizing, sports, sci-fi, art, culture and travel to name a few. While I am part of and love many tribes, I’m 100% gay; therefore I’ll always participate in LGBTQ+ sports. It’s not only how I met my husband, it’s also how so many people meet friends and significant others and how we all feel connected to each other and to this big blue marble called Earth.
C: You can learn more about Tony Smith by visiting tonyfordenver.com
Photo by R. Tony Smith