Thank you, Cleveland and Akron (Gay Games hosts)

  • bro4bro

    Posts: 1037

    Sep 13, 2014 8:47 PM GMT
    This thread is nearly a month overdue. I want to thank the cities of Cleveland and Akron for the hospitality they gave me and a few thousand other gay athletes and visitors when they hosted the Gay Games in August. The best way I can think of to do that is to let you guys know about the warm welcome we received.

    I grew up in the Akron area and was very curious – and a little concerned – about how an event like this would go over with the local population. They do not have a history of being terribly open-minded. There are gay bars in both cities but they’re widely scattered; there is no “gayborhood”. And Ohio has yet to even begin the discussion on getting rid of their ban on same sex marriage.

    But from the minute I arrived in Cleveland, people were extremely welcoming and friendly. I was never made to feel the least bit awkward about telling people I was there for the Games; everyone had a big smile for me as soon as I said it. In downtown Cleveland, the Terminal Tower – the city’s iconic landmark skyscraper – was lit up in rainbow colors for the entire week! Many, many bars, restaurants, and shops were flying rainbow flags. I even heard of one instance where a guy was out partying late and was pulled over for a DUI – but the police let him off with a warning when they found out he was there for the Games!!

    In the host hotel – the Renaissance, right there in the Tower complex – the piano lounge and adjacent bar were essentially turned into a pop-up gay bar for the week; they were packed with people from the Games at all times. On Friday night the hotel provided another room with a bar and a DJ that basically became a gay nightclub, right there next to the main lobby. Around midnight guys started peeling their clothes off and dancing in their underwear; a hotel manager came in and asked everyone to please put their pants on – but they didn’t shut down the party! And then on Saturday night following the closing ceremony, the House of Blues hosted an after party, and the whole place became a gay nightclub – a first and probably last for that venue – with a very goodlooking crowd, since virtually everyone was a Games athlete!

    As for the Games themselves, they were also a great experience. I was competing in track and field, which was held in Akron. The meet was run by assistant coaches and student interns from Akron U and Kent State, and they did a very professional job, as did the track officials. The level of competition was high and the athletes were very competitive with each other but also extremely friendly and supportive – there were no douchebag or elitist attitudes like I’ve sometimes run across at USATF events. I ran two races and snagged two silver medals. I’m definitely planning to do the Gay Games again (Paris, 2018 ) as well as the World OutGames (Miami, 2017) – but I’m hoping for a gold next time!

    In short, I was extremely proud of the people of my hometown for the way they handled this event. I’m convinced a “gay-friendly” city like LA wouldn’t go to near the lengths that Cleveland and Akron did. Of course they were primarily motivated by profit – the Games brought a lot of money into an area that’s always on the skids financially. We all joked about how they’d be pulling down those pride flags and burning them as soon as the closing ceremony ended on Saturday night – but when I left town on Monday afternoon they were still flying high.

    I truly hope we made as good an impression on those cities as they did on us. Ohio is a perennial political battleground, which is one reason it was chosen to host the Games. I think we may have won a few of them over.


    If anyone else attended the Games or was in town at that time, feel free to pile on. I'd love to hear your perspective.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 13, 2014 10:34 PM GMT
    I'd like to echo the words of bro4bro. I also competed in track & field (yes, we met - hi D) and had a similar experience. The people of Cleveland and Akron were awesome.

    I'd like to thank the thousands of people that helped put this event together. I had a chance to talk with an organizer in Cleveland and said they had so many volunteers they had to turn some away. The games were well organized and I certainly enjoyed my experience at the track and other venues.

    And the city of Cleveland is underrated. If you ever get a chance to visit, do so.
  • bro4bro

    Posts: 1037

    Sep 14, 2014 1:19 AM GMT
    Here's a photo of Cleveland's Terminal Tower in its rainbow-colored Gay Games guise.

    Seriously, this kind of thing just doesn't happen in places like Cleveland - I thought!

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  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 14, 2014 6:47 PM GMT
    That's a great photo of Tower City! I was there in July to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and thought it was an amazing city with awesome people. I'm glad the Gay Games went wellicon_biggrin.gif

    Cleveland Rocks!

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  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 14, 2014 8:18 PM GMT
    bro4bro saidHere's a photo of Cleveland's Terminal Tower in its rainbow-colored Gay Games guise....
    12095381-standard.jpg



    Hmmmmm!! What an interesting trio of phallic symbols!