(Thanks to Kai Scott for sharing this account of his experience at the Paris Gay Games this year!)
The Gay Games were a truly profound experience that took place against the backdrop of historic landmarks in the sweltering heat of Paris. Around 10,000 participants took over the area in and around the Hôtel de Ville (aka city hall) and many surrounding stadiums, fields, and pools for one week. The feel was celebratory filled with excitement, pride, and reflection (especially the athletic pioneers that paved the way for us and those we have lost too soon). Besides athletic events of all types, there were nightly performances and parties. The local Parisian gay bars overflowed with thousands in the streets late into the night with old and new friends connecting and sharing their recent athletic accomplishments or what being queer is like in their countries.
I ran the 10K and the half marathon with hundreds of members from other Frontrunner clubs. It was the perfect blend of social and competitive. The 10K took place in a forest next to a castle (Chateau de Vincennes) and I coasted to a comfortable 42m finish. The half marathon was a week later within earshot of the L’Arc de Triomph. I was happy to surpass my training goal and ran a 1h 32m half marathon, which was nowhere near the top contenders in my division (1h 24m). I found it interesting that the French serve cubes of sugar and coca cola as part of the post-race spread – I guess that’s one way to refuel ;). Of course, I immediately located other Canadian runners, including friendly folks from Winnipeg, Toronto, and Ottawa. In the evening, there was a gathering of Frontrunner members at a local Parisian bar. It was fun to make friends and compare notes with others clubs in Asia, Australia, South America, and North America.
Beyond running, I cheered on our local soccer team, coached by Nico Montagut, who competed against teams from England, Germany, France, and United States. I also enjoyed watching water polo, tennis, and track and field. It was inspiring to see others excel at their sport of choice. A great reminder that us queers are represented in all sports.
The next Gay Games are in 2022 in Hong Kong, so a good time to start training and planning your trip. It would be awesome to send a team of Vancouver Frontrunners at the next games. It’s an experience not to be missed.