Planning holidays is definitely one of my top three hobbies, so I was excited to learn that the ninth Gay Games had been awarded to the US city of Cleveland in the state of Ohio.
Excited or intrigued? To be honest Cleveland hasn't really been featuring in my list of holiday hotspots (making lists is also one of my top three hobbies), so I caught up with Tom Nobbe - executive director of the 2014 Gay Games - to get the low-down on Cleveland.
Why are the Gay Games being held in Cleveland in 2014?
The Federation of Gay Games has said that they selected Cleveland as the site for 2014 because Cleveland understood the mission of the games, offers impressive facilities and has experience hosting major events.
How many participants are you expecting to attend?
Where will participants mainly come from?
Participants come from all over the world, with a particularly draw from the United States, United Kingdom, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. We are also hoping for participants from Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America.
How many sports will be part of the Gay Games in Cleveland?
The 2014 Gay Games will host 35 sports and three cultural events - a band festival, a choral festival, and a fine arts festival.
What other cultural and social activities will be part of the Gay Games in Cleveland?
We're working diligently now to finalize the details for the week-long activities beyond the competitive events. Participants will be able to gather at the festival villages in downtown Cleveland and Akron. In addition, there will be parties, concerts, plays, art exhibits and comedy shows.
Many organizations, restaurants, bars, museums and other hot spots are eager to welcome the global LGBT community and showcase all the region has to offer.
What makes Cleveland an attractive destination for the world’s LGBT sportspeople?
Cleveland has hosted many large sporting events in its world-class sporting venues. In 2013, it will be hosting the U.S. National Senior Games, which will bring 15,000 athletes to the city to compete.
Why is it important to have LGBT-specific sporting events such as the Gay Games?
Tom Waddell, a former Olympic athlete, created the Gay Games 30 years ago, as a 'vehicle of change because gay athletes were a hidden and marginalized community. He wanted to create an international legacy of changing cultural, social and political attitudes toward LGBT people across the globe. He also wanted to empower tens of thousands with the transforming benefits of sports competition.
While much progress has been made in the last 30 years, we still need to showcase the power of sport to reduce and eliminate the perception of many that 'gay' and 'athlete' are mutually exclusive words.
In addition, the Gay Games truly embrace inclusiveness - it's open to all adults regardless of sexual orientation, athletic ability or age.
Is the city of Cleveland supporting the games?
Yes. The city has generously provided both financial and in-kind support to the 2014 Gay Games.
Who are the people that are running the 2014 Gay Games?
The Cleveland Special Events Corporation is the non-profit organization that governs the 2014 Gay Games. Its board and staff are very diverse, representing members of the LGBT and allied communities.
What are some of the challenges in running an event like the 2014 Gay Games?
As a volunteer-driven organization, we rely on the hard work and talent of the community to organize 35-plus events, two festival villages, opening and closing ceremonies as well as all the other partner and related events. Handling all those logistics, making sure we are aligned with the principles of the Gay Games and the regulations for each sport, and marketing to the world definitely are challenges, but something we're thrilled to be tackling.
How do people register to attend?
People can register through our website - on the website you can sign up for general registration then register for each specific sport or cultural competition in which you want to participant.
General registration is open now, and 20 of the 35 competitions are also now open for registration. We expect to have all events available for registration by the end of 2012.