Correcting Xtra’s mistakes
The 1997.12.18 edition of the widely reviled Toronto fagrag Xtra carried a story, by Michael Kealy, entitled "Is there enough cash to go around? Gay Games bidders say they’re not competing for hard-to-find dollars." Kealy selectively quotes my Toronto Gay Games VI bid analysis and gives Toronto bid potentatrix Jennifer Myers more than enough rope to hang herself.
Shall we register some corrections here?
- Myers claims that gender parity would be imposed by the Federation of Gay Games only "at... committee and board levels. The Federation doesn’t request you do so with your paid staff." The Federation’s "requests" are irrelevant. Page 60 of the Toronto bid book unambiguously tells us (emphasis added):
We anticipate the need for a 20-member board of volunteers.... We will emphasize the need for gender parity among our board, its committees and any paid positions within the organization. Minimally, we will require that our board and its various committees be equally represented by gay men and lesbians through co-chairing. We will also require that underrepresented groups, visible minorities, and disabled persons be represented among our board and its committees... [with] the following areas of
- Co-chairs (male/female)
- Sponsorship & Fundraising
- Volunteer Development
- Marketing & Promotions
- Travel & Accommodations
- Information Technology
- Public Relations & Media
- Outreach & Legacy
So yes, Jennifer, you do really countenance gender parity and other forms of top-down imposed representation on absolutely everyone wielding even a modicum of power in the Gay Games VI organization. This is a disaster waiting to happen, as I describe elsewhere.
Fortunately, Toronto lost. (Official announcement; Sydney’s announcement; news article.)
- Myers was, I guess, too distraught at losing Gay Games VI to Sydney’s superior bid to stay on-topic. "It would be very wrong not to offer daycare because that would exclude competitors who have children. It would be ludicrous not to have the wheelchair-basketball tournament acessible.” Where do I start?
- Every facility used for the Gaymes will be wheelchair-accessible. That barely scratches the surface of accessibility, a topic the Toronto committee can’t admit it knows nothing about, perhaps explaining Myers’s jittery defensiveness.
- Childcare has nothing to do with the makeup of Games staff.
- There is no mention in the Toronto bid book of hosting a wheelchair basketball tournament. There are no gay wheelchair baskeball teams anywhere in the world, and even straight teams in big cities are so starved for players they need to recruit nondisabled people. (Kealy and Myers could have learned about this phenomenon at my Web site. One-stop shopping.)
- Myers at least breezes past an issue all bidding cities have ignored: That competitors are important, not staff. Frankly, it wouldn’t matter if the entire staff and volunteer cadre in Sydney were made up of albino Greek immigrants or nondisabled white males or lesbians of colour if the event actually attracted athletes and was run well. If diversity is any kind of issue, it should centre on competitors, not staff, and to do that would require a commitment by the Federation of Gay Games to invest heavily in years of worldwide grassroots development. That will not, of course, happen, even though FOGG is scheduled to receive no less than US$1 million from Sydney.
- Myers again: “This is something that is going to have a $10-$15 million budget. It’s not something that a small community can support [financially].” On page 73 of the bid book one reads of a $9.9 million budget. Has there been a behind-the-scenes budget increase no one else knows about? Myers also conveniently dodges the fact that "a small community," namely Toronto queers and queer small businesses, is on the hook for $1.4 million in the Toronto budget.
We of course expect this level of careless fact-checking and editing, axe-grinding, and journalistic incompetence from Xtra, which never heard a rumour it wouldn’t print.
Posted: Circa December 1997 ¶ Updated: 2009.03.01
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