CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. The city council agreed to host a rowing event for gay athletes this summer, despite opposition from residents who see it as a threat to their small-town way of life.
The council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to allow the race, planned as part of the Gay Games competition in Chicago in July, according to the Crystal Lake Northwest Herald.
The city’s decision on whether to grant organizers the required permit for the event has divided this bedroom community of 40,000 residents about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.
Opponents have argued that the games are an inappropriate attempt to legitimize and celebrate the gay lifestyle, and that organizers are more interested in making a social statement than competing.
Supporters have criticized the resistance as discriminatory and hateful, and say such opposition underscores the Gay Games’ mission of tearing down gay stereotypes.
Most of the events for the Gay Games are set in Chicago. Organizers have said the weeklong competition is expected to draw 12,000 participants, tens of thousands of spectators and pump more than $50 million into the local economy.
The games, which started in 1982 in San Francisco, are held every four years and open to both gay and straight participants.
The Crystal Lake event still needs approval from nearby Lakewood, which also borders the small man-made lake. Village President Julie Richardson has said she expects village officials to approve the event later this month.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, April 07, 2006.