Organizers of the two events are starting a refreshing new relationship of cooperation and friendship
By Ross Forman
Any bitter emotions still lingering from 2006, when the inaugural Outgames was held in Montreal about a week after Gay Games VII concluded in Chicago, are just that: history. So say organizers for the 2009 Outgames in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, Germany.
Team Denmark from the Outgames in Montreal.
In fact, organizers for both LGBT sports and cultural events are talking regularly to strengthen each event – and each wants the other to be a success. The Outgames is even offering the Gay Games a platform to promote its event next summer in Denmark.
"I think the attitude between the people on the ground, so to speak, in Copenhagen and Cologne is that we see each other as professional colleagues," said Uffe Elbaek, CEO for the Outgames. "I totally respect the Gay Games’ ambitions and only hope the best for the people in Cologne, that they are able to pull together a truly outstanding event in 2010."
Said Joachem Faerber, Director of Marketing in Cologne for the Gay Games: "Bringing people together through sports, which both the Gay Games and the Outgames is … so we are supporting them.
"Operationally, we have a really good relationship with them. Especially since we know that clients attending the Outgames are our potential clients, too."
The events were bitter rivals in 2006, each battling for bragging rights as the year’s top LGBT sporting event. Organizers in 2006 were, no doubt, not talking to one another or sharing suggestions, as is the current situation.
"I totally understand why there were a lot of very strong emotions regarding both events in 2006. And I only can think to compare it with a divorce. A child in a divorce situation might think, ‘Do I go with my father or my mother?’" Elbaek explained. "Well, we don’t think the global LGBT community should have to decide to go to one event or the other; hopefully they will go to both, and have incredible experiences at both."
Organizers for both events talk regularly by phone and also have sit-down meetings when they are together at other LGBT sporting events, as happened this summer at the Euro Games in Barcelona, Spain.
"We’re sharing professional information as you do as business colleagues. It’s been an ongoing good dialogue between the two offices," Elbaek said.
Elbaek confirmed that the Outgames have been in discussion with officials at the Federation of Gay Games to even run a workshop next summer in Copenhagen.
Faerber said the Gay Games will decide its plans for 2009 by the end of 2008.
"The only reason we’re doing this event is to strengthen the LGBT community, for its long-term success," Elbaek said. "We want to heal any wounds that were there in 2006. We should honor what we have in common, and respect the differences."
Online registration for the 2010 Gay Games kicked off this fall, and organizers predict 500 will register by the end of 2008 during the Early Bird registration period, with the goal of 12,000 registrants come 2010. About 150 of those 500 will be from the U.S., organizers predicted.
Those who register in 2008 will save 25 Euros (approx $32 USD) on individual Gay Games registration, a savings of almost 20% for most athletes. Gay Games registration is a base fee of 100 Euros plus a sport or cultural event fee of an additional 40 to 100 Euros. After December 31, 2008, the base fee goes up to 125 Euros; the sport and cultural event fees will not change.
A count-down clock to the 2010 Games has been hung publicly in Cologne.
"We are now really increasing our visibility within the community, in Germany, in Europe and worldwide," Faerber said.