Gay Games 9 just got gayer

Gay Games 9 executive director Thom Noble told me this week about a new gay addition to the opening ceremonies, which already include the Pointer Sisters and Philadelphia-raised Andrea McArdle. Lance Bass has signed on to be part of the ceremony Aug. 9 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland to kick off the week of athleticism and partying. I’m hoping he’ll be at the after-parties also. Nobbe also told me that registrations have topped 3,700 already, with the majority of those being individuals. Once the teams start getting organized and registered, that number will explode, he said. Just this month, I began researching housing for the games and it’s starting to fill up fast. If your budget doesn’t allow for $289-night accommodations, I strongly urge you to get online and get booking. The lowest-priced hotel rooms are already sold out, except for a few in the suburbs. If you don’t mind being on the fringe of things instead of the middle of the circus, you might be OK for a few weeks. Just remember: We’re only about 90 days out from the opening. Clock’s a’ tickin’. I also talked with Nobbe about local registrations. He and others are somewhat disappointed with the current level of involvement from our City of Brotherly Love. Part of that may be the lack of energy, direction and involvement with the once-vital Team Philadelphia, which remains conspicuously missing from the planning and excitement of this quadrennial event. Nobbe also talked about the challenge of building that excitement around Cleveland due to its proximity to the major East Coast cities. I asked him what he would say to those who look at this as, “It’s just Cleveland.” “Here’s an opportunity to be part of something really special,” said Nobbe, “to participate in the Gay Games in the United States, as the next possibility of having the games local again is at least eight years away. It’s a chance to meet new people and experience new cultures and make friends with LGBT athletes from around the world. You will walk out onto the field with your friends and teammates during the opening ceremonies, which everyone has told me is one of the most moving experiences of their lives. “It is also a chance to show support of Cleveland and the entire state of Ohio, which is struggling with LGBT rights in employment and housing,” Nobbe added. “Inclusion is what this is about. It’s not a political event, but it is a great opportunity to show others that we are a group of people who will go and support others fighting the same causes.” We are privileged in Philadelphia and in a few surrounding communities to have elected officials who stand up for us while state officials continue to deny equal rights and protections. We should have the moral compass to go to these games, show our numbers, our strength, our support and our passion for what is right. Equal protections under the law.

Indoor football celebrates equality Just one week left before we go “Out with the Soul” May 10 at the Wells Fargo Center. The American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul is hosting a champion of equality event to raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union, and the focus is on our LGBT community. The timing for this event couldn’t be better. With the ACLU lawsuit fast-tracked to be resolved around that date, this could be the most supportive way to celebrate their expected win. Prior to the actual game, Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League will be exhibitionists — that is, playing mini games of 15 minutes each to entertain us while we get situated. Then the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus pipes up with the National Anthem and then it’s game time. Check out the refs. They will be wearing rainbow patches for the evening and rally towels are planned to be color-coordinated to create an indoor rainbow, and players will don rainbow socks. Tickets are only $25 and after the Soul finishes off the New Orleans Voodoo, hit the parking lot for a GPFFL Gay Bowl tailgate party; Bring your own pins and needles to stick in the opponents. Summer special In two weeks, I’ll be covering the special events of summer beginning with the Memorial Day weekend tournaments through the Gryphons Bingham Cup tournament in Sydney, Australia. If your organization has a tournament, challenge or local, regional, national or international competition coming up, please let me know! Short stops • Gryphons RFC plays its home game of the spring season against Gotham 1 p.m. May 3 at Pepper Middle School. After the game will be the usual shenanigans at Westbury, and the bar crawl that evening starts from there at 9. If you’d like to help send a rugger down under to Sydney, go to Countdown to Gay Games 9: 98 days. Let everyone know when you’re playing, what you’re playing and what team you play for; email [email protected].