Three months and counting

Behind the organization of the Gay Games

by Joe Clark

First published 1994

It may be an understatement to say that everyone fervently hopes that Unity '94, alias Gay Games IV and Cultural Festival, will run like clockwork come June. People want the biggest athletic event ever held to come off without a hitch, and a month-long Voice investigation suggests that it will - venues are largely finalized, planning for almost all the 31 sports events is running smoothly, and registrations are pouring into the Unity office-- on one particular day 1,557 entries arrived. Even more impressive is the ten-day waiver recently signed by Janet Reno allowing HIV-positive people to enter the U.S. for the event, the fruit of canny lobbying by Unity '94. It may not be quite true, as Unity's slogan goes, that "Games can change the world," but they will surely change the lives of thousands of participants and spectators.

That doesn't mean there aren't a few loose ends to tie up-- and some of those ends were loosened by bad planning on the part of the Unity '94 staff. But unlike the cash-soaked extravaganza called the Olympics, to which the Gay Games are often compared even while Games organizers are legally enjoined from using the O-word, Unity '94 is an event organized by, paid for, and benefitting the queer community (or communities, if you prefer). We here at the Voice are as interested in seeing this event succeed as anyone, so it's in a spirit of constructive criticism that we take a look at some issues that have arisen in planning the Games.

But what's past is prologue, and these bumps in the path toward the Gay Games aren't make-or-break.The Gay Games should unfurl more or less as planned and set a new standard for amateur athletic and cultural events. Think you can top it, Amsterdam?

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