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Outgames  
 
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The festivities following the speeches featured musical performances by singers including k. d. lang (who had earlier in the week publicly blasted Prime Minister Harper for his absence), Martha Wash, and Sylvie Desgrolliers, who led the crowd in the singing of "Over the Rainbow." A troupe from the Cirque du Soleil put on an impressive acrobatic show.

The Competition

The motto of the Outgames, "We Play for Real," emphasized the seriousness of the athletes who competed in the thirty-five sports and games disciplines. The athletic events were sanctioned by Canadian and Quebec sports federations. Almost 2,000 competitions took place at 41 venues throughout the Montreal metropolitan area.

Sponsor Message.

A highlight of the competition was the world record set by American swimmer Daniel Veatch in the 200-meter backstroke in the 40-44 age category. Veatch's time of 2:14.83 edged out the previous record of 2:15.49 set in 1999.

Participants vied for medals not only in events traditionally associated with summer games, such as track and field, swimming, cycling, gymnastics, and ball games, but also in two indoor winter sports, ice hockey and figure skating, as well as games including bridge and pool. In the cultural portion of the Outgames groups and individuals participated in six events, including music, dance, and bear and leather competitions.

The Outgames are open to people of all sexual orientations. Approximately fifty of the athletes at the first Outgames were . Rachel Corbett, the executive director of the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA), who has worked with the Canadian Olympic Committee to secure equal rights, saw the Outgames as a competition that could help to clarify the status of transgender athletes. "We're going to learn things at the Outgames here in Montreal this summer, and we're going to make refinements and improvements to our technical policy," she stated.

A poignant moment in the Outgames occurred when Patricia Nell Warren, the lesbian author of the acclaimed novel The Front Runner (1974), ran the last lap of the men's 5,000 kilometer race at the Claude-Robillard Sports Complex, symbolically completing the event during which the hero of her novel was killed, a victim of homophobia. Afterward, she presented the awards to the medalists.

Montreal's Support for the Outgames

The Outgames highlighted the glbtq presence in Montreal. Posters promoting the event were everywhere; Viger Square became an athletes' village; and St. Catherine Street was closed to traffic, which, wrote Cyd Zeigler, Jr. of Outsports, "created a mile-long block party in the Village."

The Outgames drew an estimated half million people to Montreal, generating considerable revenue for the city. The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal put the figure at around one hundred million dollars.

The Outgames received the strong support of politicians from local, provincial, and national government. Some two dozen officials attended various events. Among them was former Minister of Social Development and sitting member of Parliament Ken Dryden, a legendary superstar of hockey. He presided at the opening face-off of the hockey final, a hopeful sign for both glbtq athletic events and for hockey, a sport with no out current or former professional players.

Openly gay Parliament member Réal Ménard, whose riding includes the area of the Olympic Village, took an even more active role, winning the silver medal in the Masters' division (age 35 and over) of his weight class in men's wrestling.

Future of the Outgames

Notwithstanding the gratifying support of the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, the Outgames wound up losing money, perhaps as much as $5,000,000. Despite this disappointment, the event was counted a success.

At the closing ceremony Montreal mayor Tremblay passed the GLISA flag to Martin Geerson, the mayor of culture and leisure of Copenhagen, had been awarded the right to host the second world Outgames in 2009.

Organizers planned to make the Outgames a quadrennial event, but moved the second games up one year to avoid conflicting with the Gay Games. In 2006 the two glbtq sports festivals were held within weeks of each other, making it a practical impossibility for many amateur athletes to attend both, and practically assuring that both events would lose money. It is hoped that the revised schedule will result in even greater participation.

Prior to the second games, GLISA held two regional competitions, the North American Continental Outgames in Calgary in 2007 and the Asia-Pacific Outgames in Melbourne in 2008.

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