Thousands of LGBT athletes from around the world will converge on Antwerp, Belgium, over the coming days for the 2013 World Outgames, with its opening ceremonies Aug 3. Among them is a strong Canadian contingent.
Xtra caught up with some Canadian athletes worth watching at this year’s games. In the second of four profiles, we check in with two competitive ballroom dancers.
The ballroom belles:
Of all the sports at this year’s Outgames, one of the most heart-touching has to be the same-sex dancing.
“Ballroom dancing is typically associated to the men/women scene, so it's not like tennis or volleyball, which can very well be mixed or same sex,” says 39-year-old Lisa Pomeranz, whose dance partner is 42-year-old Isabelle Léger.
The pair will dance together in the Latin and modern dance categories in Antwerp. “Seeing two men tango or two women rumba is more unusual and thus makes it all the more special,” Pomeranz says.
The duo met almost two decades ago camping out/waiting in line for Madonna tickets at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. “Quite the adventure for two ‘straight’ young girls at the time!” Pomeranz says.
Sparks were ignited, and two weeks later “the two straight girls officially were no longer straight, if you can read between the lines. We have been together ever since, so that means 20 years this coming September. We officially got married shortly after the law passed in 2004.”
But it was only three years ago that they started to explore the world of competitive dance. “I have always loved to dance,” Pomeranz says. “It comes naturally to me. As far as I can remember I would dance in front of my TV to Madonna, Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul videos. But ballroom dancing! It never really crossed my mind until three years ago, a neighbour dragged us to a social dance class.”
They are now part of L'École Arc-en-Ciel (Rainbow Studios), and apparently their biggest challenge is Léger. “She had two left feet with no hip movement,” Pomeranz says, “but with the persistency of our teacher wanting us to compete, we gave it a shot and loved the thrill. We have been practising and working hard ever since, especially Isabelle!”
Léger and Pomeranz are excited to take their hard work overseas. “Europeans have a great, lively, gay ballroom-dancing scene, which unfortunately is not yet as developed in North America,” Pomeranz says, “so we have to travel if we want to compete.”
Check out Xtra's profile of the Toronto Triggerfish — an LGBT water polo team.