Dispatches: GG9 Takes Over Cleveland

blogOur correspondent Paul Heney is back with another report from Cleveland on the Gay Games from this past weekend:

GG9 is here!

Saturday will go down as a true life highlight for me—along the lines of attending the 2013 inauguration of President Obama. As a participant in the Gay Games, I was able to march into the Opening Ceremony, held at “The Q” … the downtown arena where the Cleveland Cavaliers play.

Even the act of getting everyone lined up was quite a spectacle. Flags and t-shirts proclaimed that people were visiting from Chicago, Texas, Iowa and Alaska—not to mention South Africa, France, Lebanon and Mexico. After nearly an hour of waiting, my partner and I—along with the rest of Team Ohio—marched into the arena last. I privately admitted to Lance the night before that I had this fear that no one would be at the Opening Ceremonies other than the participants, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. The seats were filled with screaming spectators, and the lights and music were overwhelming. It was like a dream having people high-five me while untold thousands in the stands chanted and cheered.

After crossing the floor, we were led up to our seats, where we were able to watch the amazing two-hour event. We were treated to an emotional tribute to, and speeches by, Ohio’s Senator Sherrod Brown and his wife, Pulitzer-winning writer Connie Schultz. Both are longtime LGBT allies, and Brown is a Cleveland native who is one of only six sitting U.S. Senators to have voted against the original Defense of Marriage Act nearly 20 years go. We saw speeches by Greg Louganis, performances by Lance Bass, the Pointer Sisters and the amazing Alex Newell from Glee. And there was a touching surprise video from President Barack Obama to the participants.

Leaving the arena, the city’s signature building, the gorgeous Beaux-Arts Terminal Tower, was bejeweled in the colors of the rainbow.

On Sunday, I took my sons to watch some basketball at Cleveland State University—most of the sporting events are free for spectators—and watched San Francisco soundly beat Sydney. Our hometown Cleveland team also beat Los Angeles. Before heading off to dinner, we drove down to the GG9 Festival Village on the Mall C, a lovely downtown park area. It was similar in scope to Cleveland’s annual pride village, but noticeably smaller—yet with some much nicer bodies on display! Ahhh, the side benefits of gay athletics …



Published by edsalvato

Educator, marketing, communications and travel safety expert; LGBTQ Pavilion at the New York Times Travel Show; public speaker; expert panel organizer and moderator

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