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Gay team training for BC Seniors Games

'You just want to have a presence,' says Horace Randall

Horace Randall (left) and George Millard are part of the BC Seniors Games' first gay team, coordinated by Qmunity Generations' Alexandra Henriques (front). Credit: Sarah Roberts photo

The first gay and lesbian team to attend the BC Seniors Games is in training and on track to queer up one of the province’s biggest sports gatherings.

“Let’s be there and be queer” is the group’s catch-cry as it seeks competitors and supporters for the games, hosted by the West Kootenay towns of Nelson, Trail and Castlegar from Aug 16 to 20.

Alexandra Henriques, community developer for Qmunity’s Generations program, is coordinating the pioneering contingent.

“Individuals have gone to the games, but we’ve never had an organized queer representation as far as I know,” she says.

“There’s a sport or activity for everyone aged 55-plus, everything from card games to pool to one-act plays.”

The annual event attracts about 3,500 participants in more than 24 activities, including archery, badminton, bocce, bridge, carpet bowling, cribbage, cycling, darts, dragon-boat racing, equestrian events, five-pin bowling, curling, golf, horseshoes, ice hockey, pickleball, soccer, tennis, table tennis, track and field, and whist.

Team member Horace Randall, 72, believes gay and lesbian representation is vital at mainstream events such as the BC Seniors Games.

“I suppose it’s like a lot of things — you just want to have a presence,” he says. “And just because we’re over 55 doesn’t mean we’re on the shelf.”

Henriques invites gay participants from all over BC to join the inaugural group, with the aim of building bigger numbers for the 2012 games in Burnaby and beyond. “My hope is that the team would grow every year — the more participants you have, the more visibility you have,” she says.

“LGBT people are everywhere and part of every community. We need to get out there and have our voices heard,” she continues. “The Seniors Games are one more thing that LGBT seniors can participate in and be themselves, even if we have to break the ground this year to pave the way for the future.”