For sailor, Gay Games have been 'greatest gift of all'

Emy Ritt

Emy Ritt is excited about the sailing events in Cleveland, her fifth Gay Games after discovering the event.

Gay Games 9 takes place in Cleveland & Akron, Ohio, Aug. 9-16. You can register here - be part of the fun with Emy  and other LGBT athletes!

I first learned about the Gay Games when living in Amsterdam.  During the 1998 Gay Games V, I saw how the city was transformed into a week-long Gay Games village.  It seemed that ever other person on the street was wearing their Gay Games badge or a medal.  Some people were wearing multiple medals. 

At the Closing Ceremony when I heard the wonderful speech by the deputy mayor encouraging us to live our lives openly, I knew that I would attend the next Gay Games, wherever they were held.  When Sydney was announced as the next Gay Games in 2002, I marked my calendar.  Two years later when registering online, thanks to the Gay Games, I discovered a world of LGBT sailing clubs around the world, including Paris, where I was then living.

As a member of Team France, we were more than 200 people marching into Aussie Stadium, and I was privileged to skipper one of the four French crews participating in the sailing event in Sydney Harbor sailing by the Sydney Opera House every day.   The competition was both friendly and fierce, especially in the spinnaker division, but we managed to make it to the semifinals.  Four years later, skippering one of the seven French crews sailing on Lake Michigan during the Chicago 2006 Gay Games VI, we won the silver medal in the non-spinnaker division, a wonderful moment.

This summer, I am registered for Gay Games 9 in Cleveland, sailing on Lake Erie.  I can’t wait, especially after visiting the Cleveland’s Edgewater Yacht Club last year and meeting the organizing team, a fantastic collaboration of community members from the yacht club, the non-sailing community, and both the LGBT and mainstream community. 

Located about a mile from Cleveland’s Public Square, the sailing will be held over four or five days, depending on the weather.  The competitive or spinnaker division will be held in Lightnings, a 19-foot centreboard boat.  The recreational or non-spinnaker division will be held in 30-foot Tartan 10’s .  All the privately owned boats will be graciously loaned by their very generous owners. 

Gay Games 9 will be a fantastic week of sport, culture, and friendship.

In parallel with my sailing activities in the Gay Games, I became involved with the Federation of Gay Games board.  While walking into Aussie Stadium in 2002, I was invited to be one of the French delegates to FGG.  Over the years, I worked on various projects and committees and was elected to the Board, serving as Co-President from 2007 to 2013.    After receiving the gift of the Gay Games as a participant, giving back to the community as a member of the Federation of Gay Games Board has been  the greatest gift of all.

Emy has been with FGG since 2002 and has attended the Gay Games in Amsterdam, Sydney, Chicago, and Cologne. In 2006, Emy won a silver medal in sailing at Gay Games VII in Chicago. FGG Board member since 2002, Emy served as the female Co-President from 2007 to 2013 and is currently Co-President Emeritus and Vice-President of Diversity.

Based in Europe for the last 25 years, Emy has lived in the U.S., London, Amsterdam, and Paris, where she currently resides. Emy is active in the local Paris LGBT community, has been a member of Voile et Croisiere en Liberté (sailing club), Golf Friendly (golf), and plays the violin with the Paris-based Rainbow Symphony Orchestra.


Gay Games 9 takes place in Cleveland & Akron, Ohio, Aug. 9-16. You can register here - be part of the fun with George and other LGBT athletes!

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