Gay Community Finds ‘Pride’ In Vancouver

The LGBT community certainly will have a proud presence at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, even if there are not any openly gay athletes.

The first-ever Olympic Pride House is located in the boutique hotel known as ‘The Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre,’ marking the first time in Olympic history that gay athletes will have a dedicated place to relax with family, friends and fans.

 

The Pride house was coordinated by GayWhistler.com, whose WinterPride gay ski week has been named the number-one gay-ski event in the world by Gay.com and PlanetOut.

Pride House opened February 8 and will remain available through March 24, for three events: The Olympics, WinterPRIDE and the Paralympics.

“This is a very exciting time for the resort of Whistler, and I am thrilled to be able to contribute in making these games one of the most inclusive to date,” said Dean Nelson, 40, of Whistler, who is the CEO/executive producer of GayWhistler.com and Pride House. “There is a lot of excitement and energy around what we are creating with Pride House. It has never really been done before, and that is giving people a new reason to be excited about the Olympics,” he said.

“The local annual Gay & Lesbian ski week, WinterPRIDE, normally happens the first week of February. With the 2010 Olympics scheduled the week following, we needed to look at how we could work with our local community, tourism bureau and the Games producer in finding a time slot that would work for everyone. We determined that the transition period of March 1-8 in between the Olympics and the Paralympics would work best for everyone. Once we had secured the festival’s week we began working on a strategy to be part of the Olympics by creating a venue that would be a fun and celebratory place while creating a dialogue on homophobia within sport and beyond.”

Nelson said the only expectation for Pride House is “to create a warm, welcoming environment where like-minded individuals can come and cheer on their favorite athletes, meet people from around the world, and to create a dialogue on homophobia within sport by having this diversity pavilion part of the Games.”

Pride House has several events planned, including special movie screenings of Training Rules, presented by CAAWS, the Canadian Association for Advancement of Women in Sports & Physical Activity; and Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride, presented by PFLAG Canada (Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays). Both screenings will include special post-screening panel discussions featuring Canadian Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewksbury as emcee. Plus, there will be a special presentation by Pride House artists Edmund Haa­koson and Jeff Sheng.

“Our primary goal for Pride House is based on awareness and creating dialogue on homophobia within sports and at the community at large,” said Nelson, who has lived in the skiing mecca of Whistler for 15 years. “Therefore, our goal is not determined by [ the ] number of visitors. We know that people will be curious about the pavilion and will want to come and experience the pavilion and see some of the art exhibitions we will have on display, watch the Olympics, hang out and meet interesting people from around the world.”

We are privileged to run this piece by Ross Forman courtesy of the Windy City Media Group. The full and most excellent story is online at their superb website: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=25107 They are the only regional gay media group in the U.S. with multimedia projects, including an online podcast, two weekly publications, one monthly ethnic online magazine, and an online resource guide.

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