Let the (Out) Games Begin

With 2,500 fewer participants than organizers had originally hoped for, the second annual Outgames forges ahead in Copenhagen despite the world economic crisis -- one sporting event at a time.

BY Ross Forman

July 23 2009 12:00 AM ET

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Developed in 2006 as an alternative to the tradition-rich, sports-driven quadrennial Gay Games, Outgames is, in actuality, a three-part event, combining a wide-ranging human rights conference with a diverse cultural program and a sporting competition that hits about 30 events, ranging from basketball and volleyball to squash and bowling.

With the motto "Freedom to love, love of freedom," Outgames participants come from all over the world. About 10% of all Outgames registrants are from the United States, with the most American registrants coming from Washington, New York, and California. Denmark, naturally, has the most participants, followed by Germany.

"We are especially proud of having participants from several of the countries in the Middle East, [which are] not the easiest place on earth to be gay," said Ole Udsholt, the project manager of campaigns for the 2009 World Outgames.

Swimming, running, and volleyball have the most registrants, and about two thirds of the registrants are male.

"The Outgames actually is a very holistic event," Elbaek said. "The human rights conference speaks to your mind; the cultural and artistic program speaks to your heart; and the sports speak to your body. It really is a three-dimensional event, and we could not have done the World Outgames without any one of the three elements. It's a very interesting mix of mind, body, and heart. The Outgames will be an emotional roller coaster of being an LGBT person."

Take a peek at what's in store for this year's Outgames.

Conference

The three-day conference (July 27-29), with about 1,000 worldwide delegates, will be held at the new Danish Broadcasting Corporation's Concert Centre and the new IT University. There will be workshop sessions and speakers from more than 70 countries, spanning the 10 conference themes: Human Rights and Politics; Out for Business; Culture and Media; Health; Education; Family and Relationships; and more. Keynote speakers range from former NBA player John Amaechi to activist Cleve Jones of Milk fame; South Korean actor/comedian Suk Hong to Georgina Beyer of New Zealand, the first transsexual to be elected mayor and a member of parliament.

Tags: Sports

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