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Gay Games 9 begins August, volunteers wanted

June 5, 2014

By Nicole Drake



For the first time since 1982, the ninth Gay Games will be held in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio for the 2014 competition from August 9-16.

In previous years, the Gay Games have been held in locations such as San Francisco, New York City, Amsterdam, Sydney and Chicago.

Ryan Zymler, communications coordinator of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, is responsible for providing visibility, promotion and information to people in the surrounding area.

“After Cleveland hosts, the next host city will be Paris, France in 2018,” Zymler said.
Like the Olympics, the Gay Games occur every four years and travel to different locations. They are governed by the Federation of Gay Games.

Started in 1980 by Dr. Tom Waddell, the Gay Games have become a cultural, social and political game changer for LGBT people everywhere.

The games help empower the liberation of the LGBT community while bringing the benefits of sports competition. This year, the LGBT Community Center is the lead community partner for Gay Games 9.

Marc Naimark, vice president of External Affairs at Federation of Gay Games Inc., resides in Paris, France where the Gay Games will be taking place in 2018. He talked about why Cleveland was selected as the prime location for the games this year.

“Cleveland was very successful in corporate support. The best so far in regards to really big sponsors,” Naimark said.

The Cleveland Foundation and Cleveland Special Events Corporation are the two major sponsors responsible for the large grant sponsorships. Cleveland was an unexpected location for the games but was chosen for a variety of reasons.

According to the Gay Games 9 official website, “Cleveland and Akron were chosen to host the Games because of (the) superb sports venues, affordable accommodations, accessible transportation, the support of our diverse civic leadership and our ability to create change.”

Naimark said that with thousands of people in the arena, the opening ceremony is an incredibly huge event. The games are a good place to feel free, excited, energized, empowered and the notion of “being gay” disappears.

“It’s an interesting phenomenon," Naimark said.

With the games quickly approaching, there’s still some time to put yourself in the game and make a difference. Participants have the opportunity to organize a volunteer team to get involved, donate or become a sponsor.

Being a volunteer includes helping out with the opening and closing ceremonies, sports events, cultural events, hotel welcome and other areas of the games. Volunteers receive a t-shirt, bag and hospitality included with the Gay Games program.

For more information and to give back to your community today, contact Chelsea Kertes, Volunteer Coordinator, at ckertes@gg9cle.com.