Dispatches: The Gay Games Race To Cleveland

8 08 2014

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Our correspondent Paul Heney chimes in with a personal story about the Gay Games coming to Cleveland this weekend! We recently covered Cleveland earlier this year and are offering our Cleveland guide for free here. Here’s Paul on Cleveland and what the Gay Games coming to his hometown means to him (click “Read more”):

During my time in college at Georgia Tech, Atlanta was bidding for the 1996 Olympics. We were excited and involved, as our campus would be the Olympic Village, should Atlanta win the bid. As excited as I was when Juan Antonio Samaranch of the IOC announced “Atlanta!” early one September morning, I secretly wished that my beloved hometown of Cleveland could one day host an Olympics. Fast forward almost a quarter century, and how amazing it is to me that my city is hosting an Olympics of sorts—one for the gay community.

Gay Games 9 will be hosted by Cleveland and nearby Akron starting this Saturday, and it is expecting on the order of 8,000 athletes. Given that I only came out within the past few years, it’s sort of an unbelievable coincidence that this is happening—in my city—now.

A lot of people ask me why Cleveland won the games, and there’s no single answer. It was because we wanted to host it and showed a lot of energy and excitement in our bid. It’s because the city is a nationally under-appreciated metro area, one rife with arts and culture, great restaurants and parks, friendly people and good connectivity. Plus we’re a spot in the heart of the country that isn’t the most progressive on gay rights issues. What better opportunity to showcase our community and to win over more hearts and minds?

Because of this confluence of events, I’ve convinced my boyfriend to run in the GG9 5k with me, and I’m excited to be able to march in during the Opening Ceremonies.

I’ll be blogging for MAW on GG9, letting you know what I see and hear and experience over the 8 days of the Games, from spectator to participant to volunteer.

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