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Outgames gets set to kick off Saturday

By Ross Forman
Outsports.com


COPENHAGEN – The stage is set for second World Outgames to begin here Saturday night. Well, not completely. The stage for the Opening Ceremony, which actually is a catwalk in the middle of downtown Copenhagen, was still under construction on Friday. With a huge jumbotron TV and some rainbow flags, you know this is the (gay) place to be, but I was surprised it was not done yet.

tivoli
Tivoli gardens is ready for the games.

--Registration was easy. Organizers had more than enough volunteers, along with clear, visible signs inside the registration area, and finding English-speaking aides was never a problem.

--During registration, I met a rower from Washington D.C., and a fellow Half Marathon competitor from the Nation’s Captiol. I also spoke with a tennis player from Washington state. Later in the day, I saw a marathon runner from D.C., wearing his proud Front Runners jacket. Now what about my fellow Chicagoans? I only know two from the Windy City who will be making the near-nine hour journey across the Atlantic Ocean. And one of my goals over the next few days is to find at least two other Chicagoans, not just some locals who hear Chicago and immediately respond Michael Jordan or Al Capone, as if they are the only two my city has ever produced.

--As I was leaving the secured area in the arrivals section at Copenhagen Airport, I was pulled aside. Why? I have no clue, especially since I saw about 10 people or more before me just leave without issue. And that’s when the questions start. What am I doing here? Do I have family here? Where are you staying? Do you have a return ticket? Luckily, he asked if I was on vacation, which I am (somewhat), so I said, ‘Yes.’ Not sure what his reaction might, or would, have been had I said I was here for the World Outgames … but didn’t care to find out.

-- In the main walking area around town, I saw a volunteer on Friday passing out the impressive 260-page Outgames program. I also saw Outgames shirts for sale in traditional souvenir stores around town. That was surprising and definitely cool to see. Certainly don’t remember shirts for sale in Chicago during the Gay Games in 2006 other than in Boystown (Lakeview). However, they only have black Outgames T-shirts which, ugh, surprised me.

arena--I expected to see soccer, er, futbol jerseys for sale around town, and I did. But a signed Arena Football League helmet? Yep, I walked past a hair stylist and, shockingly, there was a replica, full-size Arena Football League helmet with about 25 signatures on it. I looked for Kurt Warner’s signature from his Iowa Barnstormer days, but no luck.

-- I asked some of the organizers if they were expecting any protesters during the event. I know the anti-gay contingent is at the Chicago Gay Pride Parade annually, even if they’re only 20 strong or so in among the 500,000 in Chicago. And this seems like a logical event for anti-gay protesters. The organizers were not expecting any protests.