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Toronto to host queer tourism conference in November

Gay experience of Vancouver's Winter Games among agenda topics

The CEO of Gay Whistler will head to Toronto in November to discuss the gay experience at Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Dean Nelson, along with Greg Larocque, director of international federations for the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA), will speak about “the gayest games of them all” as part of Travel Gay Canada’s first annual LGBT Tourism Conference on Nov 5.

Nelson spearheaded the establishment of the Pride houses in Vancouver and Whistler during the February Games. Considered a groundbreaking move, the two venues were conceived as an open and welcoming venue for all gay athletes, coaches and their allies.

Nelson says his goal in facilitating the conference’s Sport Tourism session is to help make different destinations across Canada and around the world more open to everyone. “In some communities, it’s not comfortable to be gay,” Nelson says. The idea behind the Pride houses was to allow gay athletes to see that was not the case in Canada, he explains.

“It was a huge success,” he says. “Our goal was to raise awareness on homophobia. We were apparently one of the top three news stories of the Olympics.”

Nelson says he hopes to get a representative of the Vancouver Olympics organizing committee to speak at the conference as well. The organizing committee is in its winding-down stages. No one was immediately available for comment.

The goal of the conference is to examine who makes up the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travel market, what they look for when travelling, and how to successfully reach them.

GLISA is the parent body behind the North American OutGames, which will be held in Vancouver next year.