Olympic Pride House welcomes the world
The first Summer Olympics Pride House almost-didn’t happen. When sponsorship funding didn’t meet expectations three months ago, the house was officially scrapped in spite of the enormous success of the first Pride House two years ago at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup publicly said the support and encouragement he got at the Vancouver Pride House influenced his decision to come out.
More than just a haven for LGBT athletes, the house will have live music from LGBT artists, video presentations from local LGBT organizations and, of course, broadcast competitions live during the games. A banner exhibit of 37 out athletes, groups, discrimination and progress will include Billie Jean King, David Kopay, Greg Louganis, Ian Roberts, Tom Waddell, the Gay Games and OutGames.
Federation of Gay Games vice president for external affairs Marc Naimark recently told PGN via email his hope is to see thousands of Olympic visitors stop by for an exhibit or attend some other Pride House event. Visitors can participate in a bowling night, a youth day, a football tournament during the week and a fun sports day on Aug. 11.
Pride House is only open Aug. 3-12 and, even though there is no scheduled media coverage at this point, Naimark is hopeful that some publicity takes root by the time the house opens. Naimark also said that while it is a haven for LGBT athletes and it would be great if some Gay Games ambassadors such as Greg Louganis came, the primary focus is to engage the general public.
And what about someone coming out during the Olympics? “If an athlete competing in the Olympics were to come out at Pride House, we would be delighted and supportive: But our pleasure would be first and foremost for him or her. Coming out is a liberation, and if we can be part of that, we will have done something good,” Naimark said.