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Theatre, Music, etc.


July 17, 2009


Bringing the Gay Games to town

Bid to host 2014 event features ‘Frivolity’ at the Rock Hall

Cleveland--The effort to bring the Gay Games to northeast Ohio in 2014 has one last hurdle to leap before the decision is made in September.

The site selection committee will visit Cleveland and Akron in the last days of July, with a gigantic celebration at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as the centerpiece of the visit.

Of the five cities originally expected to bid on hosting the 2014 Gay Games, only Cleveland, Boston and Washington, D.C. remain. London never submitted their letter of intent, and Miami withdrew their bid.

The site selection committee will fly into Cleveland on Thursday, July 30. At Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, they will be met by airport administrators before going to the hospitality area to be greeted by the Cleveland Synergy Council.

The council is the group of people organizing the bid, coordinated by the Cleveland Synergy Foundation.

A private rapid-transit train, filled with Regional Transit Authority directors, will take them to Tower City and the Ritz Carlton.

Over the following two days, they will see the “Cleveland +” area, primarily Cleveland and Akron.

The biggest event, designed to truly impress them, will be Frivolity, a free party for the community involving some of the area’s best and brightest LGBT and allied performers.

While the celebration at the Rock Hall is free, attendees must go the Cleveland Synergy Foundation website and click the Frivolity banner to print out the invitation.

According to Cleveland Synergy Foundation co-founder and president W. Douglas Anderson, the bid to bring the games here is now entering terra incognita.

Much of the time, meetings with the site selection committee have been in arenas or community centers, with up to a thousand people from the community. This year, Boston and Washington are holding what they hope will be large rallies to support their bids.

Cleveland, the birthplace of rock and roll, has a built-in advantage in the Hall of Fame and Museum, which will be completely accessible for Frivolity.

“We’ve turned ours into an event,” Anderson said., an LGBT online radio station, will broadcast from the event, which will feature entertainment by the North Coast Men’s Chorus and the chorus’ Coastliners performing songs from Jersey Boys, Windsong, the Blazing River Freedom Band, Dancing Wheels, the Rainbow Wranglers, the Cleveland Fetish Community, Cleveland Kings and Girls, Mona West, Edye Gregory, Brianna Brooks, Maria Garrison, Stevie Reese Desmond and Rosario Garcia.

Those are just the performers who have confirmed their involvement by press time.

Anderson is very hopeful for a large attendance at the event. There have already been 9,000 hits to the website about the party, which he described as a “hodge-podge of frivolity and fun.”

Anderson, who returned to the city a few years ago after living in California, has become one of Cleveland’s most vocal champions, first with the North Coast Athletics Volleyball league, and now with the Cleveland Synergy Foundation.

“Our plan was to not only make Cleveland a welcoming city, but an affordable city for people to come to, and 90 percent of the events would be held in downtown Cleveland,” he said. “It’s clearly about recognizing the miracle that sits in this city.”

Cleveland’s bid has the support of U.S. representatives and senators, the athletics committee and, of course, the convention and visitor bureaus of both Cleveland and Akron.

An even more fascinating letter of endorsement came from an odd place, hundreds of miles away--the mayor of St. Louis.

“This has never happened before in the history of the Federation of Gay Games that the mayor of another city recognizes a bid to host the Gay Games,” he noted.

With an expected participation of up to 15,000 athletes and a quarter of a million spectators, the Gay Games could bring $60 million to northeast Ohio if the bid is successful.

“We’ve got such a strong case for why the gay games should be held in Cleveland. We have such great value for the athletes and spectators, we’re so close to other metropolitan areas and Canada. We have a strong reason for the games to be held here,” said Bethany Hilt of Fleishman Hillard International Communications, who are working with the Cleveland Synergy Foundation to promote their efforts.

Hilt points out that there are a number of major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and Canada within 500 miles of Cleveland.

“Your dollar will definitely go farther here than in Boston or D.C., and that’s critically important for international spectators and athletes,” she noted. “More visitors add up to sold-out hotel space and significant economic impact across the entire greater Cleveland region.”

While the Cleveland Synergy Foundation’s Gay Games bid is not political in itself, if the games were held in Cleveland, the economic impact they have on the area could ripple out into social and political gains.

“It will create the ability for people to recognize that we, as citizens, should have the same privileges that everyone else has,” Anderson said. “That is not our primary goal, but we get one opportunity. We get one chance at this.”

Free tickets to Frivolity on Friday, July 31 can be downloaded from




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