Could the world’s largest sporting and cultural event for LGBT athletes, artists and musicians come to Central Texas? If officials in Austin get their way, it could become a reality. The capital of the Lone Star State is one of 9 cities bidding on the opportunity to host the Gay Games XI in 2022. Founded in 1982, the 2022 games, hosted by the Federation of Gay Games (FGG), are expected to bring over 15,000 participants from more than 70 nations to Central Texas, tentatively August 4-13, 2022, to take part in 35 sports, 8 cultural events and a human rights conference. By comparison, the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil had approximately 11,000 athletes competing in just 28 sports.
Austin’s journey down the road to host the Gay Games is one already several years in the making. Tina Cannon, who ran for Austin City Council 2014 and is now a Senior Policy Advisor for City of Austin District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo, has been volunteering on her spare time to help bring the Gay Games to Central Texas. “She had reviewed the opp a few years back but didn’t really know where to turn for assistance in town. But the Gay Games staff definitely remembered her excitement and interest and they were very stoked that Austin was indeed interested in hosting,” explained Lance Aldridge, Executive Director of the Austin Sports Commission. “We made contact with her about a year ago and we’ve all run with it since!”
Austin will have to overcome some pretty stiff competition if it hopes to bring the Gay Games to the Live Music Capital of the World. The other cities that have submitted their Letters of Intent and respective fees to participate in the bidding process are: Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Los Angeles, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Hong Kong. While this will be Austin’s first time to make a bid for the games, the same cannot be said for many of the other candidates. San Francisco hosted the first two Gay Games in 1982 and 1986. Dallas was a candidate city for the 2002 games, Los Angeles for the 2006 games and Washington, D.C. for the 2014 games.
There was unprecedented interest in hosting the 2022 games, with seventeen cities, the most in the Gay Games history, showing interest initially in April 2016. Anaheim, CA; Atlanta, GA; Des Moines, IA; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MS and San Antonio, TX all chose not to submit their Letters of Intent by the first deadline to continue with the bidding process followed by Cape Town, South Africa and Tel Aviv, Israel who withdrew before the final deadline, stating their intentions to bid for Gay Games XII in 2026.
“Austin is a perfect location to host the 2022 Gay Games,” says Tina Cannon. “Our supportive community and inclusive environment is ideal to be a host city. We are an open, active, health conscious, welcoming city. In additional to having world class facilities and a town that is more than accustomed to large events and festivals, we are a beautiful green city with attractions for the athletes and visiting spectators to enjoy. From our green spaces, swimming holes, love music and cultural scene, Austin is the complete package.”
The Austin Sports Commission will present as a prospective bidding organization at the Federation of Gay Games’ Annual General Assembly for the first time October 21-25 in Sydney, Australia. Next, the prospective bidding organizations must have their final bid book to the Federation by November 30, 2016. “This is a competitive and lengthy process, and we are grateful for all of the organizations’ hard work,” says FGG’s Officer of Site Selection David Killian. “The impact that the Gay Games has in host cities is incredible in terms of culture, sport, economic impact, history and most importantly furthering all matters of LGBT+ equality.”
The FGG’s Site Selection Assembly will vote for the top three candidate cities on February 28, 2017 with site inspections of the three short-listed cities conducted April-May 2017. “The site selection process is one our most vital tasks, and we take great pride in our process,” says FGG co-president Joanie Evans. “Our gratitude to the interested host organizations for sharing our vision of promoting equality in sport and culture.” The vote for the host of Gay Games XI from the three finalist candidate cities will take place at the FGG Annual General Assembly meeting in Paris, France October 2017 with the official announcement of the Gay Games XI host city in January 2018.
If Austin does get through the lengthy bidding process and is ultimately selected as the host city, the potential payoff for Austin could be huge. The 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, which had about 11,000 athletes participating, had an economic impact of over $52 million on the local economy. The recent 2016 Gay Softball World Series held in Austin by the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) this past August, with 3,000 athletes participating, had an estimated economic impact of $5 million.
The Austin Sports Commission is asking for the public’s input on a logo for the Gay Games and giving residents an opportunity to sign up for their mailing list to keep you up-to-date on the bidding process. You can find this online at www.austingaygames2022.com.
Athlete Ally Launches Curriculum on LGBTQ Inclusion in Sport
Athlete Ally announced the launch of Champions of Inclusion, the first free, comprehensive online curriculum for coaches on LGBTQ respect and inclusion within athletics. Designed to educate coaches, athletic directors, Senior Women Administrators, trainers, and captains at the collegiate, club, and K-12 level across the U.S., Champions of Inclusion aims to eliminate geographic and financial barriers to LGBTQ education.
Through a series of interactive quizzes and video modules featuring LGBTQ athletes, coaches, professors, and inclusion experts, curriculum participants learn about sexuality and gender, obstacles faced by LGBTQ athletes, how to proactively foster an inclusive athletic community, and how to ensure their own teams and leagues have sustainable, inclusive policies and practices.
“The people who most need to be reached on LGBTQ issues are often educated the least,” said Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally. “We designed this curriculum to be accessible, interactive, time and cost effective, and to help lay a solid foundation for teams to not only be accepting of LGBTQ athletes, but to proactively foster an environment where all athletes feel safe, welcomed and included.”
80% of people worldwide have experienced homophobia in sport, and LGBTQ individuals drop out of sport at nearly double the rate of their cisgender and heterosexual peers.12 Awareness-raising through education is a key step to fostering inclusion. This points to a dire need for coaches and athletic leaders to be educated on LGBTQ issues, without cost, geography or time constraints serving as barriers.
“With the Champions of Inclusion curriculum, Athlete Ally has created a much-need tool that caters to the busy schedule of coaches, athletic leaders and administrators,” said Shaun Richard, Senior Associate Director of Athletics at Ohio State University. “LGBTQ equality is incredibly important to Ohio State University Athletics, and Athlete Ally has played a major role in helping us have the tools we need to foster an inclusive campus. This expert-driven resource will be an essential part of our diversity trainings moving forward.”
“Positive Coaches Alliance (PCA) is excited for the launch of the Athlete Ally curriculum,” said Jason Sacks, Vice President of Business Development & Philanthropy at PCA. “Our partners are always looking to learn and grow as parents, coaches and administrators, and we know this will only support them further in creating a positive, safe and inclusive youth sports environment for their children.”
“USA Weightlifting is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community within our sport,” said Phil Andrews, CEO of USA Weightlifting. “Sport is sport, and Athlete Ally’s Champions of Inclusion curriculum provides the necessary education and a platform for developing a more inclusive sport culture.”
“The Champions of Inclusion curriculum presents an exciting opportunity for coaches and athletics professionals to gain important knowledge and understanding about LGBTQ inclusion in athletics,” said Kerrie Turner, Head Gymnastics Coach at Bowling Green State University and President of the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association. “The program is easy to navigate and self-paced to accommodate the complex schedules of coaches, sport leaders, administrators and athletes. Upon completion, I felt confident that I have the necessary tools and resources to create impactful dialogue within my team and colleagues and to create inclusive environments in athletics. There is important work to be done in diversity and inclusion and, as coaches and leaders, education and resources are greatly needed.”
To access the curriculum or learn more, please visit learn.athleteally.org.
Kickball Comes to the gAyTX
Austin’s gay sports community got a bit bigger this spring as America’s Finest Kickball League launched in Austin earlier in April with a pickup game in southeast Austin. While Austin’s has plenty of groups that host their own kickball leagues throughout the year, most as part of a larger offering of sports — ATX Sports & Adventures, Austin Sports & Social Club, CLUBWAKA, NAKID Social Sports, just to name a few — none of these groups specifically target the LGBT community.
The league’s first event was a free pick up game at Richard Moya Park near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. “The response has been amazing!” says America’s Finest Kickball League CEO Keith London. “So many people are excited for our summer league. At our first pick up game we had 39 people!”
The pickup game come ahead of the local league’s inaugural season which is planned to start on Saturday, June 24, 2017 with games on Saturdays from 11 AM – 1 PM. Online registration for the Summer 2017 season closes Saturday, June 10, 2017 with a fee of $65 per person (plus $2.50 processing fee). Another free pick up game is planned for Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 3 PM at Richard Moya Park.
The launch of Austin’s kickball league is just the first for AFKL in Texas with plans to kick off in Dallas on Sunday, July 2 and in Houston on Saturday, August 5. Nationwide, a league in Seattle, WA is tentatively schedule for Saturday, August 12 with plans to launch additional leagues in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa in the near future.
For more information about America’s Finest Kickball League, visit www.americasfinestkickballleague.com
Austin Capitals Win at Gay Bowl XVI
Austin’s newest gay sports team may have just started up this summer but it’s already making waves, winning its first national championship in the Open B Division at Gay Bowl XVI. The National Gay Flag Football League’s annual national LGBT flag football tournament hosted by the DC Gay Flag Football League features 48 teams from 22 cities.
The Capitals kicked off pool play late morning Friday with their first game, going up against the South Florida Blue Ocean, winning 38-18. They went on to win their second game Friday afternoon against the Chicago Thunder, 22-19. Their third game of pool play was Saturday morning against fellow Texans, the Houston Hurricanes, where they would eventually win, in double overtime, 33-32. The Capitals ended pool play on Saturday and went in to bracket play later that afternoon the overall third seed.
Austin took on Denver’s Summit (Red) for the first game of bracket play, easily winning 40-13. Sunday morning the Capitals faced off against the Avalanche from Salt Lake City, winning 15-13. In the semifinal games, the Austin faced off again against the Houston Hurricanes, winning 24-12.
The Austin Capitals finished the tournament undefeated in the Open B Division taking home first place with the Denver Summit (Gold) walking away with second place.
In the in the Open A Division, the San Diego Bolts beat out the New York Warriors Black, 26-13, to win that division’s championship, with the New York Shade beating out the Washington Generals, 25-22 to go home with third place. In the Women’s Division, the Mile High Club Blue won against the San Diego Breakers, 33-13, with the Washington Senators taking third in the division after beating the South Florida Cat 5 Black 20-7.