sisterhood of the travelling trackpants
get active in your travels
Sports Tourism provides a growing array of travel opportunities for today’s active gay traveller. Thanks to a maturing international LGBT Sports community, people travel all over the world to destinations that welcome weekend warriors and team players to compete at international tournaments and multi-sport games.
Gay Games and World Outgames combine sports, culture and human rights. Open to all to participatants without regard to sexual orientation, they bring artists and athletes from around the world to celebrate and compete in venues where their sexuality is celebrated, not hidden. This is in stark contrast to the International Olympic Movement or professional sports teams, where athletes still face negative consequences to being open about their sexual identity. The controversy over Russia’s recent legislation against any expression of gay identity has brought the challenges of out LGBT athletes to the forefront of discussion about personal safety and sports competition.
Recent Olympics have seen the emergence of safe spaces known as “Pride House”, where LGBT athletes and visiting tourists are welcomed to a place that celebrates their achievements. Pioneered at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Pride House was repeated at the Summer Olympic Games in London last year. In contrast to the rejection of a Pride House during the 2014 Winters Olympics in Sochi, planning for Pride House TO in the Church Wellesley Village during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan American Games is underway. Plans include a Welcome Centre, a community sports festival, exhibits and celebrations about inclusion in sport.
Many participants who travel long distances to take part in international multi-sport events take the opportunity to visit neighbouring cities and countries post-competition. This provides a regional tourism incentive for an entire country to support and welcome these events. In August, the 3rd World Outgames was held in Antwerp, Belgium. Over 12 days, five thousand athletes from 80 countries participated in 32 sports, cultural events, and a human rights conference. The events brought international attention and widespread social sharing from participants and allies. Speaking at the Human Rights conference, Jon Gnar the Mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland spoke of his advocacy for LGBT equality and intention to bid to host the 2021 Outgames: “We are all one. We are all human beings.”
The Gay Games are the world’s largest quadrennial LGBT sporting and cultural event. Originally begun in San Francisco as the Gay Olympics, the event rotates between International and North American city hosts. The next Gay Games in 2014 is co-hosted by Cleveland-Akron, Ohio.
Cleveland’s Midwestern US location on the southern shores of Lake Erie brings four seasons of sports participation and a full roster of sports in world-class venues for participants to choose from. The return of the Games to the US has raised expectations of the highest turnout of US and Canadian athletes, with organizers projecting that more than 11,000 people will attend.
Members of OutSport Toronto hope to see a strong turnout of Greater Toronto Area athletes and teams organize to attend the 2014 Gay Games. They have formed a Team Toronto for Gay Games 9 (TT4GG9) and are planning to host information sessions, support fundraising, and connect teams. Rainbow High Vacations is continuing its tradition of sponsoring a group travel program to help teams with their travel and accommodation needs.
To get involved with TT4GG9:
Rainbow High LGBT Sports Travel:
For information about the Team Travel Program to GG9, contact Rainbow High Vacations firstname.lastname@example.org
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