The 1st World Outgames, staged in Montreal July 29 to Aug. 5, were an apparent success.
Montreal organized the first Outgames after a bitter dispute with the Federation of Gay Games led to the seventh Gay Games being relocated from Montreal to Chicago, where they took place July 15-22.
More than 10,000 athletes from 111 nations participated in 35 sports at the Outgames, and the opening ceremonies attracted an additional 28,000 spectators to the Olympic Stadium.
The crowd rowdily cheered Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, who said: I know some of you are from nations where your sexual orientation can send you to jail or even cause your death. Your presence here encourages us to continue working for a better world.
Athletes came from more than 20 nations where Gay sex is banned.
The crowd aggressively booed federal Public Works Minister Michael Fortier, who was Prime Minister Stephen Harpers stand-in, both because Harper himself didnt show up and because Harper supports a plan for Parliament to revisit Canadas legalization of same-sex marriage.
According to the Montreal Gazette, Fortiers remarks were swallowed up in a rising tide of boos which grew even more deafening as much of the crowd began slamming their folding seats up and down. Ironically, later in the week, Fortier mentioned to reporters that he is a supporter of same-sex marriage.
Olympic gold medal swimmer and Outgames Co-president Mark Tewksbury told the crowd: When I swam at the Olympics in Seoul, I felt all alone. I dont feel like that anymore! During the games, Tewksburys 4 x 100 relay swim team set a Canadian record. Tewksbury swam the 100-meter backstroke portion of the relay in 1 minute, 2.33 seconds.
In a video greeting, Québécoise superstar Céline Dion gushed: The 1st World Outgames in Montreal are a wonderful occasion to celebrate the love that binds us. ... I know in my heart that the 1st World Outgames in Montreal will be an unforgettable moment in our struggle for tolerance.
Entertainment at the opening event was provided by k.d. lang, Martha Wash, Cirque de Soleil and several Canadian stars. Gay icon Liza Minnelli headlined the Aug. 5 closing ceremonies, which attracted 32,000 athletes and spectators.
A world record in swimming was broken Aug. 3 when Gay San Franciscan Daniel Veatch completed the 200-meter backstroke in 2 minutes, 14.83 seconds, besting a 2:15.49 in the age 40-44 category by U.S. swimmer William Speicht in 1999. Veatch competed in the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988. Outgames swimming competitions were sanctioned by the Quebec Swimming Federation, which means Veatchs world record counts.
Openly Gay Canadian Member of Parliament Réal Ménard, who represents a Montreal-area district, won a silver medal in wrestling.
Prior to the games, organizers hosted a four-day International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, promoted as the largest Gay-rights conference ever.
More than 1,500 delegates approved a Declaration of Montreal that will be presented to the United Nations and national governments.
Speaking at the conference, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called for the decriminalization of homosexuality throughout the world.
Media took particular notice of attendee Mariela Castro Espín, niece of Fidel Castro and daughter of Raúl Castro, Cubas current ruler while Fidel is hospitalized.
She is director of Cubas National Sexual Education Center.
In Chicago, meanwhile, Gay Games organizers said Aug. 3 that they will show a profit when all the accounting is finalized. The Gay Games have a history of ending up in debt.