Sometimes referred to as the “Magic City,” Miami plays host to the World OutGames from May 26 through June 4 when members of the global LGBTQ and ally communities will meet to experience the “magic” of personal transformation. Using the theme of “Energize Your Body; Expand Your Heart; Ignite Your Mind,” participants can be involved in the three areas of the event that are its hallmark – sports competition, cultural activities and a human rights conference.

And where could there be a better place to experience the 2017 World OutGames than Miami, with its exciting and eclectic mix of cultures, languages, art, architecture, music and of course, miles of beautiful beaches? While most activities will be held in Miami Beach, others will be held in Miami, Key Biscayne and Coral Gables.

The World OutGames, licensed through its rights holder, the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA), brings together athletes from all over the world every four years for a celebration of sport, culture and human rights. Many participants come from countries where homosexuality remains illegal and hidden. Previously hosted in Montreal, Copenhagen and Antwerp, the World OutGames is open to all who wish to participate without regard to sexual orientation or a requirement for qualifying standards

While close to 10 OutGames editions have been produced globally in the decade since its inception in 2006, helping to bring the OutGames to the U.S. for the first time is its collaborative partner Adidas. Mark King, president of Adidas North America said, “We believe in the power of sport and its ability to transcend differences and unite people around hope and celebration. Sport plays a critical role in our culture today and we can harness that influence to make real change for the world. We want to foster a culture in sports that celebrates diversity and provides a safe place for everyone to play.”

Some highlights of the cultural area will include PULSE POINTS, an experiential memorial fusing elements of dance, poetry, music and visual arts with 49 artistic expressions in remembrance of the 49 lives lost one year ago in the Orlando massacre at Pulse Nightclub. Lummus Park, Miami Beach’s beautiful oceanfront park, will be transformed into a Festival Village that will serve as home to two entertainment stages, a women’s space, a family area, an adult zone and a wide variety of food and drink offerings to satisfy every palate. Smaller satellite hubs will be placed at various sporting venues throughout Greater Miami to entertain, refuel, energize and excite athletes and spectators.

The three-day Global LGBTQI Human Rights Conference portion will open hearts and minds with compelling and current insights from a powerful global gathering of internationally respected human rights activists, researchers, legal scholars and organizations. While the impressive list of speakers is too long to list in its entirety, some of the more familiar athletes involved include Tongan Olympic Swimmer Amini Fonua who called out the Daily Beast article outing gay athletes on Grinder at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Also participating is Chris Mosier, transgender advocate, triathlete, and speaker who is the first out trans man to join a U.S. national men’s team; Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of, author and speaker, and Mark Tewksbury, Olympic swimmer and author from Canada. For a complete list of speakers, go to

According to Miami OutGames CEO Ivan Cano, thirty sports categories from tennis to water polo to martial arts will take place all across the city as well as sports leaning to the brainier side (dominoes, poker) and fabulously flamboyant (dance sport, synchronized swimming). While an overview of a large multifaceted event like this is interesting, it’s really the stories of the people who choose to attend that reveal the importance it has to offer the LGBTQ community. And since Compete is a sports diversity magazine, our primary focus is on LGBTQ and ally athletes.

Please meet three out gay athletes who are going to compete this month in the World OutGames in Miami: Zdravko Cimbaljevic, Rodney Ferrell and Eric Mellis. These three openly gay men grew up in different areas with different backgrounds and experiences, highlighting the fact that while there is no typical OutGames athlete, it is their common love of sports and belief in inclusion and diversity that bring them to Miami this month.

By Connie Wardman

Part 1 of 4. To read the full story check it out in our digital edition.