Gay Games

Gay Games Closing Ceremonies (& celebutante dinner)

From my Sirius OutQ @ Gay Games Blog:

What a great show. Gay Games Chicago organizers took account of the feedback from the Opening Ceremonies, which many people felt were too long and boring. They ruthlessly cut speeches and other ‘fat’ from the Closing Ceremonies rundown, so it really zipped right along, actually ending slightly under its planned three-hour run time. And unlike the Opening Ceremonies, the weather at Wrigley Field was bee-youtiful — clear, relatively dry, and about 79 degrees, with a slight breeze off nearby Lake Michigan.
Cyndi LauperThe performances were uniformly good. I especially loved Cyndi Lauper, dressed as a rainbow Statue of Liberty, accompanied by Honest Abe on solo violin (or was that a viola?). And I, myself, was also in a better head-space to enjoy it all. At the Opening Ceremonies, I couldn’t help but be anxious about the challenges posed the week of Gay Games coverage ahead. But on Saturday at Wrigley, that was all behind me. My only job was to do my best to convey the ‘color and excitement’ of the Closing, so I could relax a little and enjoy it more.
Then following the Ceremonies, our air team (myself, Derek Hartley, and Kathy Sanchez) had a little extra fun. We joined several of the Ceremonies performers (and their friends) for a Chicago-style stuffed pizza dinner at the legendary Giordano’s. It was a bit of a hike from Wrigley, but Gay Games (and Hollywood) announcer Ben Patrick Johnson had the map and flogged us forward like the big gay Boy Scout he is at heart.
As we chowed down on too many pizzas, Ant (the comedian, not the insect) kept us laughing, and even revealed his real birth name (though I’m not telling). I sat next to Ari Gold, who’s pretty funny too, in a quiet way, and just as cute up close. And there was even a sort of touching moment as we all parted afterwards. Ben probably wouldn’t want me saying this, but it seems he makes a practice of giving any leftover restaurant portions to homeless people — which requires a much more deft touch than you might think. So that’s what he did when we left Giordano’s. There was a guy with a shopping cart right there on the corner, and Ben asked him, “Have you had dinner?” It wasn’t so much that he fed a homeless guy, as it was how he did it, with genuine caring, that was moving in a small way. It was an example to me, and a fine, fine way to end a wonderful experience at the Gay Games in Chicago.

Watching the Pink Flamingoes

From my Sirius OutQ @ Gay Games Blog:

Pink Flamingoes I’ve been at the Sirius studios in the Chicago Hilton for a lot of the week, making sure that all of our correspondents’ reports get on the air. Haven’t had as much of a chance to get out to Gay Games events as I would have liked. But finally, as we’ve gotten caught up on our production, I was able last night to see the famed Pink Flamingoes event at the Flames Natatorium (i.e. competitive diving pool) at the Univ of Illinois Chicago campus.

This event happens at each Gay Games, and I understand, at national gay swim meets as well. It’s a chance for everybody to cut loose; teams dress up in drag or outlandish costumes and act out skits in the pool and on its apron. I was there reporting a story, so there was a lot of running around in the humid 95 degree climate inside the pool building. But the show and the espirit d’corps was a lot of fun. My personal favorite involved an aquatic re-enactment of “Brokeback Mountain,” complete with members of the D.C. Aquatics Club dressed as the sheep. A riot.
I also ran into a guy I grew up with back in Berkeley, California. I’ve known him since we were both four, and haven’t seen him in nearly ten years. It’s truly amazing how the Games bring people together.

Gay Band Concert at the Park

From my Sirius OutQ @ Gay Games Blog:

Gay and Lesbian Band ConcertThe horrible heat wave has broken here in Chicago. It was actually pleasantly cool(er) and breezy tonight for the lovely Gay Games band concert in the amazing Frank Ghery-designed Millennium Park band shell. Naturally, nothing so sublime could go completely unsmirched. At the exit from the park, the self-deluded hypocrits from Repent America were staging a noisy anti-gay protest (covered in today’s Sirius OutQ News).
Is it just me, or are the evangelicals who engage in this kind of public hate-mongering getting wierder, sadder, and frankly, less scary, as the years go by?

Gay Games Opening Ceremonies — the real deal

From my Sirius OutQ @ Gay Games Blog:

Opening Ceremonies light stuntIt’s late Sunday night — early Monday morning, actually — and I’m contemplating the beauty and spectacle of the Gay Games Opening Ceremony. When it was actually happening Saturday night, I couldn’t really let the experience wash over me because I was focused on describing what I was seeing for the audience. But at a distance of just over 24 hours, as I caption the photo’s I’ve uploaded to our Flickr site, I can see just how amazing it was to pull so many performers, athletes and spectators in the same, inspired direction. The producers of the ceremony deserve a gold medal of their own.
On a related note, the Games are beginning to get to me… or maybe I should say, get through to me. Like any seasoned journalist, I pride myself on being able to remain detached. But interviewing a 20-year-old Black woman playing on the South African Women’s Soccer team was the most moving experience I’ve had while holding a microphone in many years. In her clipped accent, she described how oppressed and limited she feels in her home country, where an out, athletic lesbian living in a township is under constant threat of harassment, beating, even rape. But here in Chicago, she told me, she feels, at last, free. Imagine having to leave your home and travel halfway around the world for a taste, just a week, of freedom. I’m tearing up again as I write this.

Gay Games Opening Ceremonies rehearsal

From my Sirius OutQ @ Gay Games Blog:

Opening Ceremonies rehearsalJohn McMullen and I are sitting in the Sirius broadcast booth at Chicago’s famed Soldier Field, watching the Friday night dress rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony. As is the norm with this sort of thing, there are lots of stops and starts to take care of technical problems — wireless microphones not working and so on. There are also a few queer moments that arise when performers don’t make it to the dress rehearsal — and the producers send out technical personnel of the opposite sex to hold their place. For example, the plus-size White guy who stood in for Jodi Whatley. Pretty funny. Well, maybe you had to be there.

Gay Games a-comin’

From my Sirius OutQ @ Gay Games Blog:

My sources tell me things are crazy at the Gay Games offices in Chicago as the clock ticks down to the spectacular Opening Ceremonies on Saturday night. Things are nearly as crazy here at Sirius OutQ, as we make our final preparations to cover the Games. Our plans are very ambitious: The first-ever live national broadcasts of the Gay Games opening and closing ceremonies. Four reporters providing a dozen daily updates that will air at the bottom of each hour starting on Monday. All that, plus a couple of daily stories for our signature top-of-the-hour newscasts. Oh, and did I mention this blog plus updated online photo galleries? We’re going to be busy little beavers.
Although the logistical complexities of building a sizable newsroom overnight where none existed before are driving me a little crazy, I’m wild with excitement to be covering the Gay Games as they’ve never been covered before! I went to the first Games (then the “Gay Olympics”) in San Francisco in 1982, and I remember dreaming of the day that this quadrennial event would receive live broadcast coverage. Well that all begins… on Saturday.