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Pride House was a starting point

The Winter Olympic games have come to a close, and I got to thinking about Pride House today. How was it? How did they do? Did it have the impact the organizers said it would? We heard bits and pieces about "great parties" and a "fun space," but we heard of only one Winter Olympian - a straight Canadian skeleton racer (are they Skeletors?) - who ventured there.

I think the presence of Pride House was a good thing. If nothing else, it was a starting point for the mainstream media to talk about gay issues in sports. I wondered what kind of impact Pride House would really have. Would any gay athletes show up there? Does renting a conference room and calling it gay really move sports or the Olympics forward? The Toronto Star answered over the weekend: No and no.

At Pride House, the pioneering gay, lesbian, transgendered and queer pavilion at the Vancouver Olympics, the atmosphere has been celebratory: champagne flowed at its opening party, and visitors to its Whistler location at the boutique hotel Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre quaffed cocktails daily.

Never mind that the gay athletes haven't exactly shown up.

I'm glad Pride House existed this year, since it did draw some media coverage and at least made more people aware that gays are in sports. But cocktails and champagne aren't going to change anyone's mind, make the NHL decide to enact gay anti-discrimination policies, or open any doors for closeted Olympians. People like Brendan and Brian Burke will have a thousand times the impact than a gay cocktail party at the Olympics will have.

While previous Olympics have had unofficial gay hangouts, "this is the first time that we've had a pavilion," says [organizer Dean] Nelson. "We have major art installations, sponsors helping fund this place."

Sorry, but a sculpture of a naked hockey player doesn't help athletes come out.

From everything I've heard and read, Pride House was, at the end of the day, a great marketing tool for Gay Whistler and Gay Ski Week (starting today), a fun place for gay visitors to meet one another and share cocktails, a launching point for the straight media to discuss our issues, and a good venue for some conversation between the converted. That's a pretty good accomplishment! Hopefully, with two years to prepare and two more years of social progress, the Pride House in London can accomplish everything they hoped for and more.

Did you go to Pride House? What were your impressions of it?

Hat tip to Canmark.