Is French flair grandiose? Or is it magical? Gay sports aficionados will have their answer in a few
weeks. OutUK correspondent Rex Wockner
checks out Montreal's OutGames, supported by OutUK, and Chicago's Gay Games.
The Gay Games were supposed to be in Montreal this
But the Federation of Gay Games and Montreal
organizers couldn't agree
on size, scope, vision and control of money.
An acrimonious, public divorce ensued.
The Gay Games moved to Chicago and will roll July
15-22 with more than
12,000 athletes competing in 30 sports.
But Montreal organizers plunged ahead after the
divorce, refusing to
throw in the towel.
Montréal's Olympic Stadium ©Tourisme Montréal
The result: The 1st World Outgames will roll here July
29-August 5 with
more than 12,000 athletes competing in 35 sports. And with a budget of $16 million (US$14.4 million),
offices in the
Olympic Stadium and 59 full-time employees, the
Montreal games appear
good to go. The opening ceremonies at the stadium will feature
k.d. lang and Weather Girl Martha Wash.
While the Gay Games have a history of ending in debt,
Director Louise Roy says that won't happen in
"We'll break even," she said. "And we'd like to have
"There's no way we're going to lose money," agreed
Secretary Pascal Dessureault.
"Our budget forecasts a small surplus. Our financial
being audited every month by the federal and
We're really conscious not to have any deficits at
all," he said.
SUCCESS IS CRITICAL
Openly gay Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewksbury, the
co-president, said it is critical that the Montreal
games not end up in
the hole financially.
"There's much riding on our success -- the Outgames
future and, I would
argue, maybe LGBT sport future," he said.
everybody keeps coming up
with these models that leave deficits and destruction
in their path, I
don't see much future there. ... I've been enormously
delivering a successful games -- not just a great
games, but a legacy."
On 20 June 2004, Montréal was the last stopover for the Olympic Flame in North America
which was carried by Mark Tewksbury.
© Montréal 2006
Olivier Samson Arcand (OSA Images)
More than a quarter of the Outgames budget has come
from governments --
$1.4 million from the Canadian government, $1.6
million from the Quebec
government and $2.2 million from the city of Montreal,
The remainder flows from registration fees, from what
call "commercial exploitation" (sale of merchandise,
for example), and
from corporate sponsorship from the likes of Labatt,
Bell Canada, VIA
Rail, CGI, Air Canada and others.
Control of that $5.2 million of taxpayer money,
explained, was one of their sticking points with the
Federation of Gay
"It was about budget control and the scope of the
games -- those are the
two most big reasons [for the split]," Roy said. "We
could not accept
people controlling the budget of Montreal because we
are subsidized by
the Canadian, Quebec and Montreal governments.
"Also, we know it wasn't so easy for [past Gay Games
Amsterdam, for New York and for Sydney to work with
she said. "They wrote to me and were very
understanding of what happened
"The Montreal organization had a difference of
"There are two different ways to tackle
organizing an event
that has had financial difficulties in the past.
Beaudry métro station in Montréal's Gay Village
©Tourisme Québec, Linda Turgeon.
can either downsize
it ... or you can go the way Montreal is going, with
a different business model, and create a movement that
reaches to the
entire community and the entire host community as
"The FGG didn't want to evolve, or adapt itself from
model," he said.
Tewksbury, who has been involved since day one, agreed
control was a key disagreement with the federation,
but he said the
disconnect didn't stop there.
SPLIT A REAL SHAME
"There was a fear of Montreal as a host city," he
suggested. "There was
a fear of our business plan, of financial-monetary
competence. There was
a fear of partnering with tourism and government.
There was a fear that
we were just one big party. There was a fear that we
didn't know sports,
and there was a fear that we were just going to be
lost within a pride
celebration [taking place the same time].
"There was a fear on our numbers [of participants],"
he said. "I think
we've now been able to debunk every one of those
fears. And it makes me
still a bit sad. I think we could have been the
greatest Gay Games host
city ever, that would have fulfilled the federation's
dream of what the
games could be and leave such a positive legacy for
the future in terms
of the business model.
"Given the history that the federation inherited ...
when you have city
after city making promises that don't get delivered, I
guess it erodes
your sense of trust pretty heavily," Tewksbury said.
"I think between
Montreal's incredible enthusiasm and support coupled
with a very
cynical, distrustful organisation, based on history,
there was a real
disconnect. It's a real shame."