The first Gay Games took place in San Francisco in 1982, and in the eight iterations since (hosted in various American cities and in Amsterdam, Sydney and Cologne), they have grown to attract as many athletes as participate in the Summer Olympics. In addition to competitions in dozens of sports, the weeklong event also includes a cultural component and tons of entertainment. There are many reasons to submit a Gay Games bid — civic pride, economic benefits and the opportunity for social change are chief among them — but what makes a city Games-worthy?
This July, a team of site inspectors (with which I travelled as media and technical support) visited the three cities shortlisted to host the 2018 Gay Games: Limerick, Ireland; Paris, France; and London, England. On Oct 7, after a three-day annual general assembly of voting delegates and international bid teams, the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) will select the successful bidder for the 2018 Gay Games.
Just a two-hour drive from Dublin (and 20 minutes from the nearest airport, in Shannon), Limerick looks exactly like the Ireland of your imagination. The sheep are cottony, the castles are Medieval, the pubs (and redheads) are plentiful, and the meadows are, indeed, emerald. With fewer than 60,000 residents, the town gives off a first-name-basis vibe injected with a dose of youthful exuberance due mainly to the estimated 12,000 students at the University of Limerick. It’s an impression equally applicable to the city’s LGBT community: earnest, fledgling and welcoming. The city hosted the Special Olympics in 2010 and is home to Thomond Park, recently named the best rugby stadium in the world. Limerick is a 2011 European City of Sport, designated by the European Capitals of Sports Association. Learn more about Limerick’s first bid for the Gay Games.
With 2.2 million inhabitants and a history that reaches back two millennia, Paris has the density and culture to foster the emergence of vibrant, diverse communities. Known for intellectual rigour, haute couture and fine cuisine, The City of Light embraces the creative, the considered and the fabulous. Paris has welcomed the world before. The Olympic Games (1900 and 1924), the FIFA World Cup (1938 and 1998), the Rugby World Cup (2007) and the annual French Open have all been held in Paris, and the city is always the final stop on the Tour de France. Paris has a strong LGBT community and an even stronger sporting community, and with this, their second bid for the Gay Games, the city is hoping to bring the two together. Learn more about Paris’s second bid for the Gay Games.
Busy and bustling London is the capital city of England and a global culture and financial hub. More than eight million people live in the 1,572 square kilometres of the city — about 5,177 inhabitants per kilometre square. London is home to immigrants from dozens of countries, and more than 300 languages are regularly spoken in city. Home to marvels like the National Gallery, "the Gherkin," and Elton John, London is also home base to countless companies, including Rolls-Royce, Virgin and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The British monarchy also lives in London, in Buckingham Palace. After the 2012 Summer Olympics, London became the only city in the world to have hosted the modern Games three times (in 1908, 1948 and 2012). Learn more about London’s first bid for the Gay Games.
This year’s Federation of Gay Games annual general assembly will be located in Cleveland, Ohio, the successful bid city for the 2014 Gay Games. Best known as the Rock and Roll Capital of the World (and site of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Cleveland is also promoting itself — and the entire northwestern part of the state — as an LGBT-friendly travel destination through the destination marketing organization, Positively Cleveland. A sports-loving community with professional teams in all the major leagues, Cleveland has previously hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the National Basketball Association All-Star Game and the United States Figure Skating Championships, as well as the extreme sports series Gravity Games and the National Senior Games just last year in 2013. Next year will be the first time the city has hosted the Gay Games.