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The Gay Games start this weekend. Here’s what you need to know.

This will be the 10th Gay Games and the third in Europe.

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Figure skaters took to the ice in Cologne at Gay Games VIII in Cologne, Germany.

Gay Games 10 kicks off this Saturday in Paris with an Opening Ceremony and Opening Party that are sure to energize the entire city for the event.

What are the Gay Games?

The Gay Games are a quadrennial (every four years) event, just like the Olympics. They occur every year the Winter Olympics are held. It is a multi-sport event featuring thousands of athletes from dozens of countries.

When did the Gay Games start?

In 1982, former Olympic decathlete Tom Waddell and various volunteers hosted the first Gay Games in San Francisco. Waddell was tired of the anti-gay attitude he felt from some of the most powerful people in sports, so he wanted to create an event where gay people felt welcome. It was originally called the Gay Olympic Games, but proving Waddell’s point, the Olympics forced him and the event to remove the word “Olympics,” which led to some posters for the event having black tape covering “Olympics” in the days and weeks leading up to the event. The event drew almost 1,500 participants. In 2011, Outsports listed it as the fifth most important moment in LGBTQ sports history.

What are the dates of Gay Games 10?

The Opening Ceremony is Aug. 4, and the Closing Ceremony is Aug. 12. In between there is a week of competition, with sports holding matches on various days.

Do you have to be gay to participate?

Absolutely not. The events are open to everyone of any sexual orientation or gender identity.

Why do LGBTQ people need their own events anyway? Isn’t that discrimination?

Again, anyone can participate in the Gay Games. So no, it’s not discrimination. And non-LGBTQ people have supported the event for decades. Heck, even Rudy Giuliani supported the Gay Games over 20 years ago!

And these events are about building community within a minority group, not about excluding anyone (which, for the third time, they do not). But yes, these events are necessary. While the sports world has transformed in major ways in acceptance of LGBTQ athletes, it is still massively beneficial to participants to compete and mingle with people in their community. This has for decades been a powerful role of “weekend warrior” sports, and it’s an important function of the Gay Games.

How many people will participate this year?

Organizers say they have over 10,000 registrants for Gay Games 10. Thousands of other LGBTQ people are expected to come to Paris to participate in the festivities outside the competitions.

Why is the event in Paris this year?

Various cities bid to host the 10th Gay Games. The finalists were London, Limerick (Ireland) and Paris. The Federation of Gay Games executed an extensive examination of each of the potential hosts, and Paris came out on top. Paris has a long history of Gay Games participation and demonstrated a strong support structure from the local community and government entities.

OK, I want to participate, but I don’t want to be an athlete. How can I be involved?

You’re in luck! There are various ways you can take part. If you’re interested in watching some of the events, you can attend as a spectator. The two biggest events of the Gay Games take place this Saturday, Aug. 4. The first is the Opening Ceremony, which will take place at the Stade Jean Bouin. Tickets are available for as low as 25 euro.

The Opening Party, held after the Opening Ceremony, will be a party not to be missed. It will be at the stunning Grand Palais with international superstar DJ Offer Nissim as the featured DJ. Tickets are as low as 75 euro.

You can check out many of the amazing events being held by the Gay Games by clicking here.

How can I follow the action at the Gay Games if I’m not there?

We’ll be covering the event all week with articles on Outsports, as well as social media posts to both Twitter (@Outsports) and Instagram (@outsportsinspire). We plan to do a lot with our Instagram feed.

And if you are at the Games, please @outsportsinspire on Instagram so we can add your stories post to our feed!