Dallas will field more than 40 athletes at the Gay Games in Cologne later this month. Here are some of those hoping to bring home gold
Athlete: Mark LeDoux (right)
Day job: Anesthesiologist and interventional pain management specialist
Sport: Track and Field
Events: 4×100 meter relay, 4×200 meter relay, 200 meters, 110 meter hurdles, 200 meters, 400 meter hurdles and 800 meters.
Gay Games experience: First Gay Games
Interesting fact: Father of twin 9-year-old girls
In his own words: “Ever since I came out, I’ve wanted to do this. Things ache a lot differently than they did 10 to 11 years ago, but I draw inspiration from previous attendees and other participants.”
Athlete: Sean Faulkner (right)
Day job: Emergency nurse
Sport: Soccer (plays center midfield)
Gay Games experience: Faulkner will be competing in his fourth Gay Games, following Amsterdam in 1998, Sydney in 2002 and Chicago in 2006.
Interesting fact: His diving header won a match during Team Dallas’ silver medal run at the 1998 Games in Amsterdam.
In his own words: “When we meet people on the street in Europe, they’re so accepting of us that they don’t understand why we have a separate games just for gay people. They don’t view being gay as anything wrong or different; being who you are is just way more accepted in Europe.”
Looking for an excuse to take advantage of a weak Euro this summer? There’s always a trip to Amsterdam’s Red Light District or jumping aboard one of those floating bathhouses known as gay cruises.
And then there’s the quadrennial Gay Games.
Starting July 31, Cologne, Germany, will host the largest LGBT sports and cultural gathering in the world. Conceived by 1968 U.S. Olympic decathlete Tom Waddell, the Gay Games were first held in San Francisco in 1982 with 1,350 participants. Organizers this year had hoped to surpass the 11,500 registrations total from the 2006 Games in Chicago, but the lingering global economic recession has tempered their expectations. But with late registration still coming in, organizers are predicting 10,000 participants.
Unlike the Olympics, athletes in the Gay Games represent their cities rather than their countries. Jere Becker, organizer of Team Dallas, says 43 local athletes will march into the historic Rhein Energie Stadion for the opening ceremonies, joining others competing in 33 team and individual sports (among them basketball, cycling, diving, figure skating, track and field and volleyball). Some non-athletic competitions (better described as disciplines than sporting events, like chess and bridge) are also included.
Most events and disciplines are classified by age or ability, so both beginners and veterans will compete against their athletic equals. Holding true to the principle of inclusion, anyone can participate, regardless of ability, age, sexual orientation, race, gender, nationality or ethnicity, religion or HIV status.
But even those who just like to watch can enjoy the cultural events that are open to the public, including a cheerleading contest, band and choral festivals, visual and performing arts performances and social events for everyone from women to bears to the leather community.
Let the games begin!
— Ricky Bradley
Gay Games VIII, from Cologne, Germany. July 31-Aug. 7. GayGamesCologne.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.