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First briefing on the Toronto bid

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.

Pragmatic issues

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:

  1. Aerobics (max 50 participants)
  2. Badminton 400
  3. Basketball 50 teams
  4. Beach volleyball (!) 50 teams
  5. Billiards 200
  6. Bowling 750
  7. Curling (!) 100
  8. Cycling 250
  9. Diving 100
  10. Figure-Skating 150
  11. Golf 200
  12. Hockey 50 teams (!)
  13. Marathon 1000
  14. Martial arts 250
  15. Physique 350
  16. Powerlifting 50
  17. Racquetball 50
  18. Rowing 400
  19. Soccer 100 teams
  20. Softball 250 teams
  21. Squash 250
  22. Swimming 1500
  23. Table Tennis 200
  24. Tennis 1000
  25. Touch football 50 teams
  26. Track 750
  27. Triathlon 500
  28. Volleyball 350 teams (!)
  29. Waterpolo 25 teams
  30. Wrestling 100

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.

Other issues

  1. Question from someone else: When you say you’ll be consulting with "the community" until the bid, do you actually mean sport groups (or, as I inferred, whatever loudmouth cranks have influence)?
    Answer: Yes, sportspeople.
  2. All bidding cities have already answered pseudo-objective questionnaires on their venues (e.g., number of washrooms, union vs. non-union, etc.). The presentation [in Toronto with unnamed bid inspectors, who turned out to be one person, Susan Kennedy] August 6 will be "the only subjective part" of venue scrutiny. All this is not entirely clear to me. 100 crappy washrooms may be worse than 20 nice ones. A non-union facility that can handle 5,000 people may be superior to a unionized one that handles 1,000. Beauty and modernity of facilities seem germane to me.
  3. The November presentations in Denver are 45 minutes of monologue (with 10 people max from each city) and 45 minutes of Q&A before the entire board. I don’t know if that meeting will be public, not that spectators in the audience will count for diddly anyway. The bid book I have, which was submitted along with a US$4500 fee in March, is apparently preliminary. 2002 is hiring a multimedia producer and threatens to use video and both English and French sections. Anomalous quotes: "Anything we do in a visual or formal presentation is icing on the cake" (the cake being, presumably, the final bid document). "A very formal, professional, top-notch presentation" is countenanced.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. New York in ’94 went into debt. Toronto 2002 doesn’t want to.
  7. Jen claims FOGG removed the Amsterdam board and parachuted in an American to handle marketing after GGV ran through all its government money. FOGG is apparently wary of any bid incorporating government funds. 2002 doesn’t use any in its bid.
  8. Jennifer made corporate sponsors sound as important as community fundraising, like bake sales and drag nights. The budget predicts $4M from corporations and $1.4M from "private donors & small business" and "special fundraising events." All this is amortized between getting the bid and August 2002. $1.4 million is a shitload of money to expect to extract from Toronto queers.
  9. Asked if 2002 considered the reasons why Toronto lost the 1996 Olympics bid, the answer was yes, and in fact the main opposition to those Olympics, the Bread Not Circuses Coalition, has one former member wanting to help with 2002. Apparently the giving-back-to-the-community and legacy programs are what they like.
  10. A questioner asked about anti-homophobia programs. In Vancouver, spectarors lined up for GGIII events had bottles thrown at them, and many names were called. "The community," whatever that means, wasn’t really behind GGIII, it was suggested. Outreach person Guy Laporte jotted that down to include once we get the bid.
  11. 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.

  12. The dates of competition – August 11 to 17, 2002 – were specifically chosen to avoid running in parallel with other large gatherings, like Caribana and the CNE. A Toronto tourism/convention person is on the 2002 committee and struck me as being really quite on the ball. Hotel rooms have even been preliminarily reserved.
  13. In the budget, income and expenses both magically add up to $9.9M. I asked which of the income or expense itemse were fudged to make that tidy summation possible. The answer: Only Miscellaneous Expenses ($377,250). Everything else is accurately estimated, though really only to two significant digits, which is good enough for now. A real accountant is handling financial projections.
  14. FOGG now has a usurious licensing/royalty scheme. Previously, FOGG charged US$125,000 per Gaymes; now it’s 15% of gross, or $1,655,000 in the current budget. 2002 intends to fight this, and also intends to fight what gets included in that estimation. What about gifts-in-kind? Those too have been estimated with a 15% hit in the current budget.
  15. Montreal has support and funding from the city, apparently, but its sports venues aren’t conveniently located close to each other. Also, due to community dissent, a professional group had to be hired to put the presentation together. What this means, to the initiated ear, is that anglophones want the Gay Games, francophones as usual consider anything anglophones suggest as suspect and believe that anything beyond a bar or tavern that organizes homosexuals is unnecessary in the Quebec utopia that only francophone separatists in our diverse communities believe actually exists today. The English/French split and ongoing political uncertainty in Quebec will themselves doom the Montreal bit, IMO.
  16. 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.

  17. The graphic design and line-editing and proofreading and internal consistency of the book are poor. The logo is half-acceptable and half-trite. (Actually, they were required to submit two logos; the second is a bust.) They need real writers. The section on accessibility for disabled participants is an abomination and shows that whoever wrote it knows less than nothing about disability and is even more clued-out in disabled sport.

My conclusions

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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