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Pride House opens in Vancouver

First-ever gay house opens for 2010 Winter Olympics

By Cyd Zeigler

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Pride House, the gay-themed retreat for athletes and visitors at the Vancouver Olympics, opened to the public on Monday. The house was put together by Gay Whistler in hopes of promoting their Gay Ski Week that starts at Whistler the day after the Olympics close.

Organizers hope Pride House helps fight homophobia in sports, according to Gay Whistler CEO Dean Nelson. While they hope gay athletes will use the Pride House to declare pride in their sexual orientation, the house is open to all.

“Anybody with an open mind is granted to come in,” Nelson said. “We anticipate that quite a few people streaming through will be straight people who are curious about what we’re doing and what it’s like to be a gay athlete. We hope it will give more confidence to our athletes to be authentic.”

Featured in Pride House will be various art installations including a presentation of Jeff Sheng's 'Fearless' project, a photo series of openly gay high school and collegiate athletes (click for full story). An original sculture of a nude hockey player has also been forged for Pride House.

Modeled after a pavilion at the World Expo, the house will feature TV monitors so visitors can keep up on the races and performances. A speakers chalet will be set up where people can share their stories on tape. There will even be information on immigrating to Canada, for those who fall in love with British Columbia.

“In no way does it imply the person’s sexual orientation," Nelson said. "Also working with local sporting communities to let them know that we do have this pavilion available for athletes and trainers to come by to have a comfortable place for people to meet other people.”

The hope of organizers is that they set a new tradition for the Olympics that will carry over to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Admission to Pride House is free, and cocktails (of course, there are cocktails) are around $7.