Gay Games organizers in Guadalajara say that the games will go on in the Mexican city this November, regardless of historic-low registration numbers. It is, for the organizers, a push to impact Central and South America with a multinational LGBTQ event they say is guaranteed to take place in some form, due to government funding.
Monica Eugenia Sanchez Torres, a Gay Games Guadalajara spokesperson, told Outsports that the event has government support that she claims guarantees the games will take place in some form.
She also shared that only 1,160 athletes had officially registered for the Games in Guadalajara as of July 31, an increase of just about 380 in three months since Outsports previously reported the registration number. She added that, while the individual players haven’t yet registered, committed teams account for about another 300 athletes.
Those numbers are problematic at best for an event that has, in the last 40 years, by far exceeded that number and built expectations amongst attendees for a larger event.
These Gay Games are hampered by the disastrous decision by the Federation of Gay Games years ago to cling to the notion that they could host a successful multinational event attracting thousands of participants in Hong Kong, where the anti-LGBTQ Communist Party of China is cracking down on LGBTQ groups, free speech and other rights and liberties.
Thousands of miles away, organizers in Guadalajara are pushing past some tough hurdles. It was under 18 months ago that the FGG named the Mexican city a second host for these Games, given them less than two years to put something together.
The biggest issue is those registration numbers. No Gay Games in the last 35 years has had under 6,000 participants. Organizers for these Guadalajara Gay Games said their goal is 4,000 registrants.
That includes thousands of road racers, who will compete and leave in the course of a few hours.
The Gay Games is a widespread community across dozens of sports, coming together to compete and socialize. A couple thousand road racers is not why people have come to love the Games.
Still, the people in Guadalajara are trying their best to create something that stakes a claim to LGBTQ equality in Mexico and beyond, in Central and South America.
Their efforts are noble.
They are not without success. Outsports has been told that 24 soccer teams have registered for the Gay Games in Mexico.
Other sports are reportedly struggling.
“I don’t know of a single dodgeball team that has confirmed,” said Jake Mason, a stalwart of the gay dodgeball scene and founder of WeHo Dodgeball.
The participation numbers of some sports in Guadalajara are going to be embarrassingly low. If Mason doesn’t know of one dodgeball team going, that’s likely cause for concern.
“I haven’t seen any marketing,” Mason said. He’s not wrong. Living in Los Angeles, there has been virtually zero marketing that has made its way to me — someone who lives and breathes LGBTQ sports — this summer. Though organizers say they attended Madrid Pride and London Pride, that’s unlikely to yield many registrations at this time, just three months out.
There are various discounts being offered for registrants as well, including one currently for aquatic sports that amounts to about $35 off.
Still, organizers say these Gay Games will take place regardless of registration numbers, due to the support of the local government.
“We are going to organize an amazing Gay Games,” Torres said. “They are going to happen.”
For Torres and others involved in the Gay Games Guadalajara experiment, this isn’t just business, it’s personal.
“For us it’s about sending a message of inclusion,” Torres said. “The legacy for the Hispanic community is very important.”
While the U.S. State Department has listed the State of Jalisco, which includes Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, on their “Reconsider Travel” list, Torres said the government and event organizers are committed to a safe event for everyone.
“We are working to make Jalisco a safe place for our community, and we want you to know that Jalisco will always welcome you with open arms,” she said. “We are Making History Together as we work to create safer spaces for the community through sports. It’s our chance to, as a community, continue building a Jalisco of equals, where there is a space for everyone.”
I have been to Puerto Vallarta several times over the last few years and never felt unsafe, though I have had a couple friends report late-night shake-downs by police and other entities.
She added that, in addition to the sporting events, there will be cultural events and parties throughout the week.
The Gay Games Guadalajara organizing committee shared this lengthy statement with Outsports, which we share below:
Gay Games Guadalajara 2023 is part of a social policy of inclusion that Jalisco’s Government is impulsing, the XI edition of the Games are an opportunity to keep working on the social changes we want for our state and country, and goes on the same line of our government implemented policies such as homoparental and lesbomaternal adoption, same sex marriage and the recognition of trans infants and adolescences and the prohibition of conversion therapies. We are working to make Jalisco a safe place for our community, and we want you to know that Jalisco will always welcome you with open arms. We are Making History Together as we work to create safer spaces for the community through sports. It’s our chance to, as a community, continue building a Jalisco of equals, where there is a space for everyone.
The XI edition of the Gay Games is a chance to show two of the most important things that represent Jalisco: sports and diversity, as we are known for being major sport event’s organizers, as we have organized major international sport events such as the Pan Americans and the WTA. Also, Jalisco is the birthplace of the first Mexican Diversity Sports Federation and we have organized diversity sports events such as the Pride Games, and thanks to all this impulse, we are preparing the best Gay Games, and we are working to make this event as big and amazing as it should be.
All participants will be able to enjoy a wide and interesting cultural agenda in the city, such as: Theater National Exhibition, Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra, Visual Arts Exhibitions, State´s Band Concert, an art exhibition called 11 colors, 11 values, 11 artists. And also, there will be 2 types of official Gay Games parties, that will include: Theme parties organized by the Gay Games Committee and parties in public spaces that will be hosted with the cities Governments, both will give our participants an incredible chance to experience our way of partying and to celebrate diversity. As they enjoy our hospitality, warmth and be part of our Mexican traditions.