The 2011 EuroGames marathon.
Meet the Olympics’ Gay Cousin

By Neal Broverman

Originally published on Advocate.com July 11 2012 3:00 AM ET

Randy lesbian pilots, flirtatious male flight attendants, and a plane that looks like a candy-colored nightclub: Those were the main components of a commercial for FreshAir, the world’s first gay airline and the official sponsor for this summer’s LGBT EuroGames in Budapest. The ad, released in May on YouTube, ignited many Google searches. Problem is, FreshAir is a fun fake—a marketing gimmick for the real EuroGames.

The ad ran as the promoters of EuroGames, held June 27–July 1, were preparing to welcome thousands of athletes competing in sports such as soccer, basketball, cycling, and wrestling. EuroGames organizers, who coordinated earlier OutGames and Gay Games, wanted an event to complement the Olympics, to be held in London a month later, while highlighting Eastern Europe as an LGBT vacation destination.

“The main reason for hosting the EuroGames is bringing an international LGBT event to Budapest,” EuroGames spokesman László Gábor says. “Sport is a common language most understand.”

Most of the competitions were near Budapest’s city center, with an Olympic-style village serving as a meeting place for city tours, gay rights conferences, dances, and opening and closing ceremonies.

EuroGames’ real airline partner was Lufthansa. Organizers, though, were happy to milk the FreshAir publicity as long as possible.

“In an economic crisis it’s difficult to get sponsorship, so our only resource left is humor,” Gábor says. “We’d love to fly FreshAir too, but are afraid it still doesn’t exist. Or does it?”