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Gay Games: Mark Ebinger, bodybuilding

One in a series of first-person articles from athletes competing in the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne, which start July 31.

Mark Ebinger

My partner of 19 years (married for 16 years) is very supportive and traveling with me, but he will not be competing in the Gay Games. James has been doing the cardio along with me as well as the diet to help me prepare.

Although I have been out in all areas of my life for 25 years, it does not mean that I have not struggled with feelings of “less than”. I have spent much of my life feeling like an outsider and feeling excluded. What I have come to realize is that equality and inclusion start from within, it start with me. I was guilty of not viewing and treating myself as equal because of being gay and it was myself holding me back.

I have been competing in natural bodybuilding for seven years and have always loved the sport and I choose to do something big to mark the end of “less than” for me. By my declaration, competing in the Gay Games marks that I am included and equal. It is a perfect fit since the Gay Games is the largest all-inclusive event in the world. My gym friends are mostly straight and very supportive, as is my training partner who is coming to Cologne to show his support.

My mother is from Germany and I have many relatives in Germany and several of my cousins are planning to attend as well. (Further illustrating that my problem with acceptance has been my own issue).

I will be in the best physical shape of my life on July 31, but regardless of my results, it will be a personal victory for me, because I get to define my self worth.

This article was written by the athlete and sent to Outsports by Gay Games 2010. If you want to tell your story, send us an article and photo to: