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More than 1,000 people including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and a number of LGBT athletes and advocates showed up June 28 to support the District’s bid to host the 2022 Gay Games.
The rally, held at the National Museum of the American Indian, took place on the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of demonstrations against laws that discriminated against the LGBT community and jump-started the modern-day LGBT civil rights movement.
“We have gone from the Stonewall Riots to Stonewall kickball. Now that’s progress,” said Brent Minor, competitor of six Gay Games and D.C. Gay Games Bid Committee chair.
The committee hosted the Federation of Gay Games Site Inspection team from June 28 to July 1, visiting dozens of venues and evaluating transportation for the event.
“As much as [D.C.] loves going to the Gay Games, and much as we will love going to Paris, don’t you think it’s time for us to finally host the Gay Games have folks come to us,” Minor said, before leading the crowd in a chant for a winning bid to host the 2022 event.
The event ensued with dancing, booze and entertainment, drawing big names including Bowser, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. All showed up to endorse the selection of D.C. as the site of the Gay Games XI in 2022.
A top three contender, D.C. must compete against Hong Kong and Guadalajara, Mexico who are also on the Gay Games federation’s list of potential hosts for the 2022 event.
The 2018 Gay Games are set to be held in Paris.
Tagliabue serves as an honorary co-chair of the D.C. bid committee alongside tennis star Billie Jean King, transgender U.S. Olympic Committee member Chris Mosher and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
“I guess the message that we want to send is the Gay Games offers the message of solidarity and hope for a bright future and promotes personal development for sports and culture,” said Dave Killian, chair of the Federation of Gay Games Site Committee. “Hosting the Gay Games is a very big challenge that requires mobilization of resources from the LGBT community as well as from the allied communities.”
Established 35 years ago, the Gay Games are held every four years. Athletes compete in 35 events such as basketball, rowing, swimming, dodgeball and country line dancing to win gold, silver and bronze medals. Eight different cultural events will also be held.
The committee says the event can potentially attract more than 15,000 athletes and 100,000 spectators, making it one of the largest LGBT events in the city if D.C. is selected.
“I don’t know about other cities, but we are ready for the Gay Games 2022,” Bowser said. “When you come to D.C., we know how to treat you.
She touted the plans for an estimated $11 billion in development throughout the city and highlighted it strong tourism industry.
“This is not your grandfather’s Washington,” Bowser said, pointing out that the city has one of the world’s largest LGBT populations.
She said participation in the games would show that the District is a leader in inclusiveness and diversity.
Her administration has set aside $2 million for the event if D.C. is selected.
Minor said the event could generate as much as $140 million in revenue for the city.