The city council
of Crystal Lake, Ill., has agreed to host a rowing event
for gay athletes this summer, despite opposition from
residents who see it as a threat to their small-town
way of life. The council voted 6-1 Tuesday
night to allow the race, planned as part of the Gay Games
competition in Chicago this July, according to the local
Northwest Herald newspaper.
The city's decision on whether to grant
organizers the required permit for the event has
divided this bedroom community of 40,000 residents that
is located about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.
Opponents have argued that the Games are an
inappropriate attempt to legitimize and celebrate the
gay "lifestyle" and that organizers are more
interested in making a social statement than competing.
Supporters have criticized the resistance as
discriminatory and hateful, saying such opposition
underscores the Gay Games' mission of tearing down gay stereotypes.
Most of the events for the Gay Games are set in
Chicago. Organizers have said the weeklong competition
is expected to draw 12,000 participants and tens
of thousands of spectators, thus pumping more than $50
million into the local economy, it is estimated.
The Games, which started in 1982 in San
Francisco, are held every four years and are open to
both gay and straight participants.
The Crystal Lake event still needs approval from
nearby Lakewood, which also borders the small man-made
lake. Village president Julie Richardson has said she
expects village officials to approve the event later this