Chicago cashing in on the ‘Gaymes’Written by Jack Kleban | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If you never heard of “Gaymes,” don’t feel alone. I hadn’t heard the term either until this past week while visiting my daughter in Chicago. “Gaymes” is a newly coined term for “The Gay Games,” a worldwide event held every four years. This year, Gay Games VII was held in Chicago.
As reported in the Chicago Tribune, there were approximately 10,000 athletes participating and a total of 100,000 participants involved in making the games a reality. Some articles focused on the economic benefits the event was bringing to Chicago. One article cited the benefits of a successful Gay Games to Chicago’s bid for the Olympic Games.
On my flight to Chicago, and everywhere I went, I saw gay insignias on luggage and apparel. There was the “rainbow flag,” the AIDS red ribbon and patches from previous Gay Games held in Sydney, Vancouver, New York City and Amsterdam.
At the airport and in the city, there were numerous signs promoting the Gaymes and the support for them. There were bus stop large color posters, headlines on front pages of newspapers and magazines, hotel welcoming signs, etc. It was apparent the red carpet was laid out welcoming all participants and visitors to the event.
I saw how aware many Chicagoans were to the activities of the Gaymes including their anticipation of what street routes to avoid due to the increased traffic and the effects it would have on parking.
There is an officially dedicated gay neighborhood in Chicago where my daughter and I decided to go for dinner. We went to a restaurant called X/O and had no choice but to use valet parking. Even though it was an early dinner time, all tables were booked. We were lucky and got a table in the lounge area overlooking the festivities going on in the outdoor back patio. Dinner was excellent.
After dinner we decided to visit one of the many neighborhood shops. I overheard business owners talking about their increased business and the effect the Gaymes were having not only on their businesses, but for the neighborhood and Chicago.
It was interesting to see how money and economics play into the equation of the acceptance of diversity. For the past several elections, we have heard of the “damage” same-sex marriage is having on our society, how same-sex marriage is a threat to the family, etc. What I witnessed at a downtown Sunday afternoon event was a large crowd of diverse people having a great time. I saw no threat.
Plans are being laid for Gay Games VIII to be held in 2010 in Cologne, Germany. I am sure there were German business men and women and City of Cologne officials on hand to see what they could learn from the Chicago Gay Games VII events to make Gay Games VIII a rewarding gathering of athletes and participants from around the world.
Jack Kleban is president of Midwest Computer Support in Sylvania. He may be contacted at email@example.com.