Cleveland officially rolled out the rainbow carpet to Gay Games 9 athletes this month with the opening of early hotel reservations and a preview of the city’s iconic Terminal Tower lit in rainbow colors.
“The 2014 Games represents an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the richness of Northeast Ohio. We are proud to spotlight all that makes the region truly special – from first-class sporting venues to world-class cultural sites, and a community that is eager to welcome LGBT visitors and their friends from around the globe,” says Stephen G. Sokany, co-chair of Gay Games 9, a gay man and resident of downtown Cleveland.
Hollie M. Ksiezyk, co-chair of the Gay Games 9 and an out lesbian, adds that Cleveland’s LGBT and ally community is ready to welcome the estimated 25,000 visitors from around the U.S. and the world for the games, which take place August 9-16, 2014.
“This opportunity will be another step taken toward equality, education and change,” says Hollie. “I am extremely proud to be a part of this historic event.”
Started in 1982 by the late Dr. Tom Waddell in San Francisco, the Gay Games’ goal is to foster a healthy sporting competition among LGBT and ally athletes from around the world. The games are governed by the Federation of Gay Games and hosted in a different city every four years. Cleveland marks the fifth time the games have been hosted in the U.S.
Cleveland won the bid to host the 2014 games in 2008, beating out Boston and Washington, D.C.
More than 600 athletes representing 34 states and 17 countries have already registered to compete in the games. Registration for GG9 opened last spring.
Running and swimming are the most popular out of the 35 sporting and three cultural events so far, according to Ann Gynn, director of marketing and communications of Gay Games 9.
All events, except a few exhibitions such as rodeo and rugby, are now open for registration. Sign-ups for the exhibition sports will be added later this year, according to Ann.
A host hotel hasn’t been announced by representatives of the games yet, but more than 30 hotels throughout Cleveland and neighboring cities Akron, Beachwood, and Independence officially opened their doors for early reservations this month. Typically, hotels only book rooms a year in advance, but Cleveland is showing its pride by opening its doors with specially discounted rates and early reservations to LGBT athletes, officials say.
More hotels will be added soon. Cleveland has an estimated 13 hotels that will open by August 2014 currently in different stages of development.
Individuals planning on competing at the games can reserve their specially discounted rooms or call 800-321-1001 ext. 6621.
General registration is currently $165, not including registration for specific events. Registration will go up to $195 after September 1. Girls That Roam readers can save an additional $15 when registering for the games by using the special code “Roam” by February 28.
Originally published in the Bay Area Reporter.