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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 15, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 28
North American Outgames: Friendly competition paves way for unity
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North American Outgames: Friendly competition paves way for unity

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Winning isn't everything.

That should be the motto for the upcoming North American Outgames.

The event, taking place July 25-31 in Vancouver, B.C., is a subsidiary competition of the broader World Outgames, itself a stepchild of the historic Gay Games.

While the Outgames are foremost a competition - two athletes from New Zealand have been training for weeks in Vancouver in hopes of claiming medals - the overall focus of these festivities is to bring various components of the LGBT community together under one colorful umbrella to exchange camaraderie, strengthen unity and pride, and raise awareness of important issues that impact our culture.

As of July 12, nearly 1,000 participants had registered for individual sporting events, including tennis, softball, badminton, track and field, and even a poker tournament that is filling up quickly with entrants, according to Barb Snelgrove, communications director for the weeklong celebration.

Speaking of registration, Outgames organizers have extended the deadline for several competitions that originally were to be closed off at the start of this week. Instead, you still have an opportunity to participate in some events (note: soccer is completely full, with 22 teams traveling from as far away as Washington, D.C.).

Folded into the program is a Human Rights Conference, July 26-28 at the Sheraton Wall Centre, featuring keynote speeches by Blake Skjellerup (Olympic short track speed skater), Sara Davis Buechner (UBC professor of music and concert pianist), and Stephen A. Glassman (chairperson of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission). Other tie-ins include a Salaam Conference, discussion groups, and daily 'breakfast of champions.'

Outgames kicks off with the opening ceremonies (July 25, 6-7:30 p.m.) at the Vancouver Art Gallery, an interesting alternative to the traditional stadium or arena festivities in which participants march into the venue grouped by city or country. The closing ceremonies (July 30, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.), meanwhile, will be held at the Plaza of Nations. Both the Vancouver Art Gallery and Plaza of Nations are located in downtown Vancouver, accessible by SkyTrain or local bus and within walking distance of Davie Village and a number of hotels.

Spectators are welcome, and many of the events and seminars are free. Visit www.vancouver2011outgames.com or www.facebook.com/OFFICIALVancouver2011Outgames for details and more information.



This year's Outgames is a prelude to Vancouver Gay Pride, set for July 31.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the North American Outgames.

Q: Can I still play in the Outgames if I'm not registered?
A: Yes, registration remains open for some sporting events and you can register by going directly to www.vancouver2011outgames.com. As each tournament reaches its maximum number of participants, it will close off its registration.

Q: Where can I get the latest updates and information surrounding the Outgames?
A: According to Barb Snelgrove, communications director for the Outgames, the latest updates will be posted at www.facebook.com/OFFICIALVancouver2011Outgames. It's important even for those already registered to check this site before and during the competition, as new items are added daily. Also, there will be a host desk for the general public in the main foyer of the Sheraton Wall Centre (1088 Burrard Street) beginning Saturday, July 23, through Friday, July 29th. You will be able to purchase tickets, ask questions and receive information pertaining to the Outgames.

Q: What if it rains?
A: Bad weather won't disrupt any of the scheduled indoor events, and for outdoor sports like softball and soccer a bit of rain won't necessarily stop play. However, slippery courts might become problematic for tennis. If it does rain, check with your specific venue or go to either the Outgames official website or Facebook page for updates.

Q: Is free housing available?
A: Unfortunately, complimentary accommodations are entirely full. Visit www.tourismvancouver.com or call (604) 682-2222 for suggestions on hotels with the best rates. I personally recommend The Burrard (www.theburrard.com), a newly renovated motel just a few blocks from Davie Village - it's a smaller hotel with limited amenities, but quite nice with a hipster twist. Also, try the very Gay-friendly Westin Grand Vancouver (www.westingrandvancouver.com), offering both Outgames and Pride packages.

Q: Do I have to pay to watch any of the sporting competitions?
A: No, there are no admission costs to view the individual sports tournaments. However, spectator areas for golf or poker might be limited or non-existent. A full list of sports and host venues is available on the Outgames website. Do note that admission to the closing ceremonies is not free, and tickets should be purchased in advance.

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