“France is proud to host the 10th edition of the Gay Games open to everyone worldwide, which for more than 35 years has accompanied the fights against discrimination by using sports as a lever for inclusion,” shared Emmanuel Macron, President of France before the Gay Games kicked off in Paris in August. With over 13,000 participants and 10,000+ athletes, the 2018 Gay Games welcomed athletes and supporters from across the LGBTQ+ spectrum for nine days of sports and cultural activities.
From the Gay Games village at Hôtel de Ville that welcomed over 54,000 visitors throughout the games to venues across Paris including the largest public park — Bois de Boulogne — home of the half and full marathon, the energy was contagious. “Preferences, origins, and handicaps are not criteria for exclusion, just as skill level and performance are not criteria for participation,” said Laura Flessel, Master of Sports. “The only requirement is passion for sport and the desire to be a part of it.”
Sitting at a restaurant in the Marais after the marathon, which Josh ran, we met a lesbian couple attending the Gay Games from Australia who described the Dance Sport competition they’d attended the night before, as captivating as Dancing with the Stars or World of Dance. We marveled at the intricate moves performed by same-sex couples, who we so rarely have the pleasure to see dancing as a pair. It is not often in sports that our LGBTQ+ comrades are so celebrated for their craft, for their athleticism and determination. It harkened to the most recent Olympics when multiple athletes were out and proud, giving us something to cheer for and be proud of. And, it was peppered throughout the city.
From the stage of the Gay Games Village, Mr. Leather France greeted guests from his wheelchair while a drag queen did sign language. And, while lining up for the marathon, runners from across the globe greeted each other before leaving the Arc de Triomphe in the background as they wound their way around the park.
Walking into the Closing Ceremony of the Gay Games, there was a bittersweet tinge in the air. We joined over 5,000 people to celebrate as the Gay Games flag was handed off to the delegation from Hong Kong, who will host the Gay Games in 2022. Paris’s arts and cultural organizations took over the stage next, with a two-hour performance featuring over 100 performers, set and costume changes, dazzling feats and vibrant music — celebrating cultures and art forms from across the globe. There was a moment during the ceremony, when it seemed as if attendees took a collective sigh of relief. Looking across the crowd, smiles and tears erupted as the Gay Games culminated for the year. This moment we will forever remember — standing side by side with our tribe of LGBTQ+ global citizens, continuing to strive for equity in a world so often divided.
Josh Miller and Theo Edmonds are artists, cultural innovators, and the co-founders of IDEAS xLab. Their work — Creative Placehealing — creates a culture of health through business by leveraging the power of arts, culture, and the creative industries to frame, seed, and scale innovation. Both serve as advisors for the Derby Diversity & Business Summit, and committee co-chairs for the Louisville Health Advisory Board. Josh was named to Business First's Forty under 40, and is a distance runner, photographer, and TEDx speaker. Theo is an assistant professor at the University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences, and was named by Southern Living as one of 50 people changing the face of the South.