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Different games,
familiar hurdles

Different games,
familiar hurdles


Organizers of this summer's two competitions for gay athletes say they've learned their lessons so the events will be profitable now and viable for the future

Hector L. Torres, who will be competing in the triathlon at Chicago's Gay Games this summer, has jumped over his share of hurdles to get to where he is today. He was a severely overweight teenager with a high-pitched voice who had trouble fitting in after his family moved from his native New Jersey to Puerto Rico. His traditional Latino family had a difficult time accepting his sexual orientation--his father even punched him once. His mother survived a near-fatal car accident and has since required her son's assistive care.

Later, he himself was involved in a car accident that left him unconscious for three days. His father, blaming a "midlife crisis," walked out on the family. His first long-term boyfriend was bulimic and bipolar, and their breakup left Torres emotionally spent.

Today, life is very different for the 28-year-old living in Orlando, Fla. A few years back, Torres shed 100 pounds and is now a 200-pound, 6-foot-1 muscular powerhouse. He began running and working out at a local gym and now teaches Pilates, muscle-toning, and cycling classes in addition to working as a promotions director at WNUE FM, Orlando's top-rated Hispanic radio station. He's also made peace with his family and himself.

Each step of the way, Torres says, he was inspired by his mother's recovery process. "After bathing her one day I thought to myself, I don't know how she does it," Torres says. "But it also made me think about myself. Taking care of my mother made me stronger. I saw all that my mom had to overcome, and I thought, If she can do this, I can do this too."

Since that realization, Torres has set goals and constantly challenged himself to do better. That drive is what is taking him to the Windy City in July.

Torres's story of inspiration and personal bests resonates with many of the thousands of athletes who will participate in Chicago's Gay Games, July 15-22, and Montreal's Outgames, July 29-August 5.

Both of these events have had to overcome their own financial, organizational, and public-relations battles, resulting in two separate yet similar entities and events. And like Torres, organizers of both the Gay Games and the Outgames are setting goals and challenging themselves, trying to avoid the flood of red ink that's colored every Gay Games since 1994.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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