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Outgames 2009: Colorful opening, colorful athletes

Opening Ceremony dazzles, as do two beach volleyball players in skirts. Three gays attacked in town center.

Related: Day 1 and Opening photos.

COPENHAGEN -- A couple of Thai players wearing matching skirts and halter tops won the hearts of the crowd and also won the gold medal in one of the divisions of beach volleyball in the men’s doubles at the World Outgames on Sunday.

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"Rose," left, and Anan won beach volleyball gold.
(See photo gallery from Day 1)

“Rose” (wearing the orange skirt) and Anan (in blue) garnered the most attention from the crowd at Amager Strand with their colorful costumes and even more colorful celebrations after points, which included well-executed booty bumps.

The duo, who also play on a Thai indoor team, beat Nestor Oliveras and Solomon Senrick for the gold. Oliveras, originally from Puerto Rico, now lives in Florida, while Senrick grew up in the U.S. but teaches American history at a university in Mumbai, India.

The Thai players were dominant with their athletic play, but Oliveras and Senrick did well for two guys who just met that morning. Each needed a partner and were matched with each other. The two are also on an indoor Outgames team, Six of a Kind, a team of players who have never played together. The team has three Americans, two Germans and one from the Netherlands.

It’s these kinds of impromptu mash-ups that make events like the Outgames fun for the participants. But it also shows that the level of competition at beach volleyball was not high. Many of the teams were composed of indoor players who decided to add another sport at these Games. –Jim Buzinski

Attack called hate crime: Two men, ages 23 and 28, were taken into custody after yelling "homo pig" and attacking three gay men in central Copenhagen following the Opening Ceremonies. The three men, from England, Sweden and Norway, were hospitalized and released, the Copenhagen Post reported:

"Henrik Vedel of the Copenhagen Police said the two attackers, who both have criminal records, are believed to have been under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time. The suspects said they could remember nothing about the incident." A judge has ordered the two suspects to be locked up through the end of the Games next week, and they will face charges.

"Obviously it's scary," a member of the Canadian curling team told Danish TV. "That fear will haunt you forever. Hate crimes go beyond bruises, go beyond broken bones and they affect you as an individual and it scars you for life."

Denmark was the first nation to legalize gay marriage and is very gay-tolerant, so to have this kind of attack in the center of town is disturbing, but a reminder that gays and lesbians are subject to harassment virtually anywhere. I have felt totally safe walking the streets here, and trust that this is an isolated incident, as police as calling it. --JB

Wet but thrilling opener: About an hour into the Opening Ceremony on Saturday night, all eyes were looking upward as some simply amazing gymnastic performers showcased their daredevil skills 20 feet above the catwalk.

Then, almost as if on cue, it looked as if confetti was falling, but it was rain and lots of it. But the show must go on, and it did. And it was a memorable, energetic, inspiring, uplifting event.

Peter Jorde served as the Master of Ceremonies, sporting a tuxedo and armed with energy and wit. He welcomed 98 nations, some with just one person, and some with hundreds. Host Denmark was the last to arrive, drawing the loudest cheers. Second loudest cheers went to Canada. The USA was cheered and I didn’t hear any boos.

Copenhagen Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard spoke, as well as others, such as Julia Applegate and Wessel Van Kampen, the co-presidents of GLISA.

Annisette performed the event’s theme song, supported by a choir in rainbow-colored shirts. The rain didn’t stop the love.

The five-minute segment on the worldwide persecution of gays and lesbians was chilling and silenced the crowd. –Ross Forman

Opening notes: The first man to legally marry another man, Axel Axgil, of Denmark, attended the and received a huge ovation – and a bouquet of flowers from Jorde. … Kudos to the American female hockey players who attended the Opening Ceremony in USA hockey jerseys reminiscent of the 1980 Olympic Team. … Team Nashville was all of two participants, one participating in the triathlon, one in track & field events.

Numbers: Uffe Elbaek, the CEO of World Outgames 2009, said there are 5,500 registered for the Outgames and more than 7,500 LGBT tourists expected in town for the event. “Copenhagen is really going queer the next eight days,” he said. There are 34 sports disciplines, with about 1,800 competitions, and 1,700 volunteers.--RF

Memo to bar owners: There are a lot of gays in town and they’re all thirsty, so how come the bars seem unprepared for the masses. Bartenders, bartenders, bartenders, please. But it’s actually been a case of, lack thereof at many local establishments. --RF

Highs and lows: The sports with the most participants will be swimming, tennis, badminton, dance sport and running. The fewest participants will be in martial arts, believed to be under 30. Organizers contacted participants in sports with low registration to see if they wanted to continue with their sport or cancel the sport. All said the show must go on. --RF

Sticker shock: I have read that food costs in Copenhagen are the highest in Europe. After one dinner at an Italian restaurant with Ross Forman I can see why. A satisfactory but not dazzling meal of salmon, lasagna, two salads and a diet Coke set us back a total of $100. Guess those protein bars and drinks I brought will come in handy. --JB