In 1997, I attended a preliminary meeting introducing the Toronto bid for Gay Games VI in 2002. There was remarkably little bullshit, though questions and contention remained.
The 2002 bid contemplates a C$9.9 million budget (US$7,276,500) for 15,000 athletes (if you believe p. 74) or 10,000 athletes (p. 36). Proposed sports are:
And – get this! – a demonstration sport, which could not possibly have been added because sexy strawberry-blond Olympic silver medalist Mark Leduc lives here: boxing (50 participants).
Venues have been quite carefully planned, apparently, though some sports are spread out over as many as four venues. Jennifer Myers, an intramural coordinator and recreational programmer at Ryerson U. here, assured me, in an I-know-what-I’m-doing manner, that her phys-ed degree and years of experience make her confident that all the venues will work. I do not doubt her, but I wonder if putting figure-skating and hockey in the same venue (even if it’s the Ice Palace with six full rinks) is wise, since they are to run concurrently for three days. I think of music and different ice surfaces.
Jennifer claimed Toronto is the frontrunner, "and that is purely based on the depth and experience of the gay & lesbian communities here," plus the many years we’ve been around and active. Also, "the city sells itself," and official recognition from all forms of government helps.
I countered that this was hubristic. Sydney’s Mardi Gras wipes the floor with every other gay-pride celebration anywhere, including NYC’s and Toronto’s. They charge admission to that mega-party, and it’s the biggest show on TV. Also, they’re a sports-mad culture and have an outpouf pro athlete (I mistakenly said more than one). Jennifer replied that, after Amsterdam, Federation of Gay Games (FOGG) members are trying to find ways to repatriate (my word) the Gaymes to North America. Also, FOGG disapproves of Sydney’s charging for Mardi Gras. Jennifer claims that Sydney is a homophobic town outside of its gay ghetto, while Toronto is gay-positive everywhere, Dallas is OK for dykes but only in their ghetto, and Long Beach she can’t comment on; Montreal doesn’t really have a gay strip, she says, ignoring Ste-Catherine East around Beaubien station.
This is ridiculous. Sydney and New South Wales and Toronto and Ontario are largely comparable. It is kind of difficult to be queer in, say, North York or Etobicoke, but I assume there are neighbourhoods in Sydney where it’s not easy to be queer, either. And both cities have many gay-friendly neighbourhoods (here: Cabbagetown, the gay ghetto itself, Riverdale, Parkdale). Also, discrimination against queers is illegal (though it’s illegal only against queers in NSW – any sexual-orientation-based discrimination is illegal here). On these grounds of comparison, Sydney and Toronto are equivalent, in my view.
Later, we had a discussion of outreach into ethnic communities, the Third World, etc. 2002 wants to set up a legacy program to train gay youth and local sports-team heads. This is fine. However, I talked about how FOGG makes all the right noises about diversity and expanding the glory of the Gaymes beyond countries already represented, but that Toronto actually is relying on FOGG to be hypocritical in order to get the bid. In effect, Toronto must assume that FOGG members – 65% of whom are from North America, Jen sez, representing 80% of the GG participant base – are going to disregard diversity issues and vote for a North American city. Further, FOGG apparently wants to avoid holding the Gaymes right in the U.S. due to unspoken problems (right-wing attacks, I infer). Just as Hollywood uses Toronto as a substitute L.A./New York, FOGG will use Toronto as an American city. (RuPaul: "Toronto is the best American city outside the United States.")
There was extensive discussion (i.e., I extensively dissected) the existing hypocrisy of FOGG. Having forced 80% of GG participants to cross an ocean – once! – to Amsterdam, now FOGG wants to find a way to nix Sydney to avoid requiring oppressed Americans to make two overseas trips in eight years. The reality is that the other 20% of Gaymes participants (excluding, say, Mexico and Central America) have had to cross an ocean in each of the four Gaymeses so far. Gerrymandering a way to keep the GG in "America" is akin, I said, to what the Conservatives and Liberals said after the NDP won the election in Ontario: It’s a mistake. As we all know, the natural order of things is for the Gay Games to take place in North America, and the natural ruling parties of Ontario are the Liberals or PCs.
This whole issue stinks. Americentric FOGG members, who preach superficial internationalism, will be relied upon to vote for convenience and expediency in order for Toronto to win. On this ground alone, I surmise that Sydney ain’t got a chance no matter what it does.
I asked about the cultural festival, budgeted at $125,000. I stated that the tradition of a cultural festival, stitched onto the Gay Games like a second head, is a psychological legacy of fags’ inability to work in sports without reservation or apology. (We are, after all, supposed to be artistique.) No one liked my saying this. It’s old hat on the LGB-Sports list.
Anyway, I suggested the cultural festival be separately incorporated so that it sinks or swims on its own. Obviously there could be overlap of staff and offices could be shared. Culture guy Rob Lavery ruled nothing in or out. He definitely hinted that a separate incorporation could be possible. We like this.
Also, in the current projections, all cultural events are budget at only 5% audience attendance. Jennifer sez they want to "put a little teeth into" the cultural festival, which is usually an afterthought.
By the end of August, all cities will have all other cities’ bid books in hand. Weirdly, the contract 2002 signed with FOGG states that 2002 cannot lobby any FOGG member. The only contact can be with either of the site people, Susan Kennedy and someone else. Apparently posting the 2002 bid book on the Web would violate that requirement, which would be laughable were it not authoritarian and sinister.
That, effectively, is the argument of those who claim porn is rampant on the net. The reality is that you have to knowingly load a porn site. You would also have to knowingly load a 2002 bid site, which could be very easily packed with warnings for FOGG people to get lost.
2002 really ought to get tough with the technological illiterates of FOGG and make them understand that publicly posting the book, a book which FOGG already possesses, is no more injurious to good order and propriety than handing it out at a public meeting, which they did. It is facile and ignorant in the extreme to impose this kind of limitation, which only enhances FOGG’s growing reputation for petty tyranny, closed-mindedness, secrecy, and delusions of grandeur. And you can quote me on that, kids.
I tilt marginally in favour of Toronto’s bid now (60% T.O., 40% Sydney). Because of the absurd FOGG gag order, I won’t consider doing any work for the committee (attending meetings does not count) until after they win the bid, if they do.
Posted: Circa December 1997 ¶ Updated: 2009.03.01
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