OpEd: South Florida LGBT Community Rallies Behind OutGames Athletes

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World OutGames Miami Human Rights Conference. Photo by Carina Mask.

The last-minute collapse of the OutGames in Miami is a disgrace that its Board and directors will never live down.

Last Friday, as athletes were boarding planes to fly into South Florida from all over the world, SFGN and the local media received an abrupt announcement that the opening and closing ceremonies, along with the vast majority of events were canceled.

The news was stunning and created chaos. The press release simply said the organizers could not meet their ‘financial commitments.’

Oh, really?

And when did they figure that out?

You have got to be kidding me.

You don’t invite people to a Memorial Day cookout in your backyard without owning a barbecue grill and some charcoal. Apparently, all the OutGames organizers brought to the party was enough lighter fluid to burn the tent down.

Normally, at this point in the editorial, I would be asking what went wrong and why. Those are certainly questions that will need to be asked and answered sooner rather than later.

However, as I prepare these words, amazingly, athletes are playing basketball, diving into pools, and square dancing for medals. The OutGames are being rescued. A host of volunteers and the City of Miami and Miami Beach are stepping up to the plate.

For example, the City of Miami Beach in Saturday rescheduled most of the canceled sporting events, while other local organizations and sponsors made plans to fill in the gaps, plugging as many holes as possible to ensure the games would go on. Awesome.

The city, as well as the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, will even welcome athletes and their families to a reception today at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

As sponsors, city officials had already worked with the World OutGames. They had waived special event and permitting fees, along with underwriting police staffing costs. While something went wrong somewhere, right now we have to try to let the games be played.

“We, as a community, need to pull together and demonstrate to our guests what it is that makes South Florida and our LGBTQ community special,” Miik Martorell, the president of Pride Fort Lauderdale said.

Martorell is right. There will be plenty of time to figure out what went wrong with OutGames but, right now, we must focus on the thousands of athletes who came here to compete. They were words well spoken.

Nevertheless, the state attorney’s office and the City of Miami Beach have announced they are opening a criminal fraud investigation. They are words that needed to be heard as well.

As a newspaper, our duty is not just to celebrate gay leaders throwing cocktail parties. It is to handcuff gay leaders that make us throw up. We report the reality, not the fiction.

This is the first time the World OutGames has come to the United States. It is not the first time the South Florida LGBTQ community has been undermined by the ineptitude, recklessness, or criminality of one of its Pride organizations.

Waiting until the eve of the events and opening ceremony for the board to issue a statement saying they don’t have the money and ‘they apologize’ just won’t cut it.

‘Sorry,’ they said. That’s it? Guess what? That boat won’t float.

The games are a 10-day human rights, culture and sports event bringing people from around the globe. They are going on today and this weekend because good people and forward-thinking city leaders in Miami-Dade have done the right to correct someone else’s obvious malfeasance and mistakes.

Let’s get through this by making the most of a mess. The games must go on. They still need volunteers and fans, participants and celebrants. They need you, and we need them. Let’s work together to salvage the sabotage.

Here, at SFGN, we will keep you posted online at www.SFGN.com. This past weekend alone, our own reporters uploaded five original stories about the debacle.

The Wednesday print edition of our newspaper is updated daily, digitally. You can sign up and retrieve our headlines, news blasts or read breaking news content at any time.

If you are a competing athlete from Australia, on your way here, sadly, you just may need to. For that, our community does indeed owe an apology to all of you. In the meantime, though, go win yourself a medal. We will handle the clean-up.

 


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