The Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA) recently announced that Miami, Florida has been chosen to host the 2017 World OutGames. This will be the first time that the event will be held in the United States.
"South Florida has a vibrant LGBT community and is a destination for our community," Robert Boo, CEO of The Pride Center at Equality Park told EDGE. "Miami and Fort Lauderdale have a lot to offer for rest, relaxation, partying, activities, and not to leave out beautiful beaches. South Florida is a warm and welcoming environment to the LGBT communities. We can offer a safe space where visitors can be themselves."
The final two cities bidding for the 2017 World OutGames came down to Miami, Florida and Reykjavik, Iceland. After a careful and democratic decision-making process with the mayors from both finalist cities in attendance including Matti Herra Bower, Mayor of the City of Miami Beach and Jon Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavik, the committee made the decision to allow Miami to host the 2017 games.
The first World OutGames was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 2006 and had over 12,000 participants. The second World OutGames was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009 and the third was held in Antwerp, Belgium. The 2017 World OutGames will be the first time that this event has been held in the United States.
Miami Mayor Matti Herra Bower told EDGE that Miami and Miami Beach are the gateway to the Caribbean and Central and South America. She feels that the diverse culture and influence from the Caribbean, Central and South America will be a great help to better serve the LGBTQI communities throughout the region.
"Miami Beach is already well established as a LGBTQI destination hot spot," Mayor Bower told EDGE. "With our annual events such as Aqua Girl, White Party, Winter Party, Sizzle, Miami Beach Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and Miami Beach Gay Pride (of which this year I am honored to be the Grand Marshall), we are in the perfect position to expand on a very global arena and to reach possible attendees that may have a more difficult time getting to other areas."
Bruce Townsend, the co-chair of the Miami Beach-Miami Sports & Cultural League, is excited about the possibility of reaching those who may have been unable to participate in prior OutGames.
"With too few participants in past games from these regions, we know we are set to welcome a greater number of our ’family’ from these regions to a World OutGames event," Townsend told EDGE. "With the help of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which has offices around the world, we are fortunate to be able to reach out globally to get the word out about this movement."
Townsend added that the welcoming communities of Miami Beach and Miami will be a wonderful getaway destination for travelers and they’ll be able to showcase an environment of acceptance to those who may normally be shunned or even abused in their home countries. As part of the Miami Beach-Miami Sports & Cultural League’s outreach program, a scholarship program has been designed for participants who might need some financial assistance as well.
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Steve Adkins, president of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce agrees with Townsend when it comes to broader exposure for both OutGames membership and new attendees who may not have participated before due to culture barriers or geographic proximity.
Adkins told EDGE that the popularity of Miami Beach and Miami for travelers ranks in the top ten global destinations. And even as such, the region will be showcased to a new group of LGBT/Allied travelers who may have never chosen Miami as a vacation destination. He feels that these games will not only retain the European participants but will also be heavily attended by North and South Americans as never before.
"Miami and Miami Beach are ready for these games," Adkins said. "We not only have the venues and hotel rooms but also this area is used to hosting major events (100,000+ people) several times each year. From Art Basel to the Super Bowl to the Boat Show to the NCAA Football Championship, this region can host events almost in its sleep."
Adkins continued, saying that they have four major LGBT events on the circuit, each hosting over 10,000 attendees. "The major emphasis will be spent early on fundraising. It takes millions of dollars to host this event so lining up sponsors and supporters will be the early keys to success."
All the hard work preparing for the upcoming 2017 World OutGames will be well worth it in the end. The economic impact for these games is estimated to generate at least $125,000,000 for the region.
"This is truly a very exciting time for us and I am thrilled that I have been a part of this experience," Mayor Bower told EDGE. "I look forward to being a part of the planning and of course the playing and party process of the World OutGames 2017!"
Miami-Dade isn’t the only county excitedly preparing for the upcoming World OutGames. The LGBT market is also integral for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. In order to confirm that commitment, they are the only CVB to have a dedicated managing LGBT director, Richard Gray, whose sole responsibility is to grow Greater Fort Lauderdale’s gay group and leisure business.
"Our mission includes making certain that LGBT travelers are aware of the welcoming and friendly destination that is Greater Fort Lauderdale. There are a number of LGBT-owned hotels and businesses in our community and we believe that visitors to the OutGames as well as all LGBT visitors are delighted to have the opportunity to do business with those companies here," Nicki Grossman, the President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau told EDGE. "In Fort Lauderdale, the community is always prepared to roll out the rainbow carpet for LGBT travelers."
OutGames to Bring Together LGBTs From Across the Globe
The Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA) describes the OutGames as a way to bring together lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes from around the world in unprecedented numbers for a celebration of sport, culture and human rights. While it showcases members of the LGBTQ community, the events are open to everyone.
The World OutGames has three core elements: Sport, Culture/Celebrations, and a Human Rights Conference. The sporting events are open to everyone, whether seasoned athletes or simply recreational participants. Cultural activities include dance, music and social activities.
The World OutGames also hosts an International Conference on LGBT Human Rights where delegates from every continent come together for workshops and discussions which are led by internationally respected leaders in human rights, researchers, trade organizations and legal scholars.
The Miami Beach-Miami World OutGames will feature more than 30 sporting competitions hosted by area teams and international federations (members of the GLISA), an international motivated human rights conference and a cultural program full of exciting events. Among the many cultural highlights will be the LGBT bands and choruses from around the globe, the high-energy opening and closing ceremonies as well as themed dances and parties showcasing the vibrant lifestyle and nightlife of the LGBT community.
"These activities are a way for the LGBT communities to come together, along with our straight allies, for healthy activities," Boo proudly added. "This is a way for us to show our strength in numbers and prove how important the LGBT community can be."
From our media partners EDGE Fort Lauderdale.Steffany Skelley Gilmer