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The Gay Games have meant the world to this figure skater

Roland Jarquio has gone from newbie to gold-level figure skater.

Roland Jarquio cannot wait for his fourth Gay Games in Paris next August.

Paris 2018 - Gay Games 10 will take place in Paris, France, Aug. 4-12, 2018. Registration is now open for athletes in over 30 different sports.

By Roland Jarquio

In 2018 the 10th Gay Games will be held in Paris.

I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I first competed in the Gay Games in 2006 in Chicago after I had been figure skating for only three years. I competed at the equivalent of the entry level (called ‘bronze’), but I still came in dead last in my event. It was my first competition.

When I arrived at the rink, I was so intimidated by the other more advanced skaters that my lower back went into spasm. I came very close to withdrawing, but in the end I was proud that I pushed through the pain and got through my program without falling.

What I learned that day was that the crowd cheered just as loudly for the last place finisher as they did for the winner; that my competitors were amongst my largest supporters; and that everyone was a winner.

This is why I love the Gay Games.

I have since competed at the Games in Cologne in 2010 and in Cleveland in 2014. That moment when you enter the arena of the opening ceremonies never gets old. In Chicago we ran onto a large field and, not knowing what to expect, I was awe-struck by the size of the cheering crowds. It took my breath away.

From that initial rush of energy, the support never waned for the whole week. Everyone was rooting for everyone else until the last goodbyes.

In Cologne the opening ceremony was also in an outdoor stadium; In Cleveland, it was a more intimate indoor arena.

The effect was the same – an inspirational experience shared with kindred spirits: athletes and spectators of all ages, colors and sizes, from around the globe. One big celebration.

This is why I love the Gay Games.

After my experience in Chicago, I was inspired to train even harder and steadily make my way to the next level of competition – silver – by the time I got to Cologne. This time I felt more comfortable, I was among familiar skating friends I had made along the way, and the end result was different: I won gold! I am intensely proud of that medal and what it represented.

The Games provided me with an aspiration to work toward. That became the motivation to keep pushing my personal best. When you’re the only one on the ice, it feels like the whole world is watching, and that pushes you to want to do your best. Your personal best.

This is why I love the Gay Games.

By the time I got to Cleveland, I had made my way into the gold level of adult skating, and it was increasingly difficult to medal. But I cared more about reconnecting with friends from past Games and competitions, and meeting new incredible people.

In Cleveland it was fascinating to have a new figure skater tell me that he was intimidated by my skating. In eight years my Gay Games experience had come full-circle. I hope anyone new to the sport in Paris would feel comfortable talking to me at any level — At this point, I want to help.

Roland Jarquio performed to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ in his Gay Games 9 spotlight performance in Cleveland.
Gay Games

When the skating competition was done we put on an exhibition where we quickly cobble together team numbers and re-skate our personal favorites under the bright spotlights. In the spirit of the Games, everybody gets a spotlight. But more importantly, the whole evening is a fun bonding experience with friends new and old. Lifelong friends.

This is why I love the Gay Games.

I have so many great memories and stories from the Games over the years. I’m looking forward to competing in my fourth Gay Games in Paris in 2018, at the age of 47, and to take home even more unforgettable experiences.

Paris 2018 - Gay Games 10 will take place in Paris, France, Aug. 4-12, 2018. Registration is now open for athletes in over 30 different sports. Registration fees increase on Jan. 1, 2018.

You can find Roland Jarquio on Facebook. You can also reach him via email at roland.jarquio@gmail.com.