At the World Outgames' second outing in
Copenhagen events will focus on political activism and gay culture
almost as much as sport while organizers remain hopeful they'll break
Outgames will draw thousands of gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes from dozens of nations to
Denmark's capital starting Saturday to compete in more than 30
events, including a triathlon and handball but also less traditional
sports like line dancing.
Over 100 countries will be represented
during a parade of nations Opening Ceremony to be held at City Hall
Square in the heart of the city – a venue traditionally reserved
for Danish royalty and national sports heroes.
Copenhagen is the second city to host
Outgames after Montreal. Canadian organizers won the bid to host Gay
Games in 2006, but disagreements between the Federation of Gay Games
and Montreal organizers eventually led to the decision to hold the
games in Chicago, and Montreal moved forward with its own plans.
Outgames 2006 was a financial disaster, primarily because most
athletes had already signed on to participate in Gay Games. Private
investors and the Canadian government lost more than $5 million after
the organizing committee filed for bankruptcy.
Montreal organizers wanted to inject
more gay culture and politics into the 9-day event, something
Outgames 2009 has embraced with the motto “Freedom to love, love of
freedom,” and a large emphasis on gay politics.
“The Outgames actually is a very
holistic event,” Outgames director Uffe Elbaek told gay monthly The
Advocate. “The human rights conference speaks to your
mind; the cultural and artistic program speaks to your heart; and the
sports speak to your body. It really is a three-dimensional event,
and we could not have done the World Outgames without any one of the
three elements. It's a very interesting mix of mind, body and heart.
The Outgames will be an emotional roller coaster of being LGBT
Outgames will host a huge conference on
gay and lesbian rights sponsored by Amnesty International and IBM.
“It is important for Copenhagen that
issues concerning homosexual rights and tolerance can be discussed
without prejudice,” said Lars Bernhard Jorgensen, CEO of Wonderful
Copenhagen, in a statement. “World Outgames enables us to pay
tribute to the diversity and openness that is such an innate part of
And as Denmark celebrates the 20th
anniversary of legally recognized civil unions for gay and lesbian
couples, a mass blessing has been arranged at Copenhagen Cathedral
offering gay couples special recognition by the church.
All this sport, culture and activism
arrives as the worldwide economic crisis slogs on, leaving organizers
to worry about the bill.
“There are about 2,500 fewer
[registered participants] than [the 8,000] we were hoping for, but,
seeing the spectrum of the financial crisis, I think it's really,
really good numbers,” Elbaek said Wednesday.
“Overall I'm very happy about the
event,” he added.