In addition to nearly 400 sporting events attracting thousands of athletes from around the world, the World Out Games also includes dozens of cultural and arts programs showcasing South Florida’s local talent.
For the past two years, Carol Coombes has led preparations for the festival. Coombes has long been active in Miami’s arts scene and guided the growth of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, now OUTshine.
“We decided there are a huge amount of arts organizations and artists in South Florida and we took the point of view that, rather than bringing in acts from around the world, since the world is coming here, we wanted to give the city a platform to showcase their work,” explained Coombes.
By day, athletes and visitors will be at sporting venues, but during the evenings, organizers hope all will be drawn to the full schedule of concerts, art shows, cultural tours, films and more, most of which are also free to the public.
In addition to opening ceremonies at the Fillmore Miami Beach, the 10-day festival gets off to a high energy start on Friday, May 26 with “It Takes a Village, People,” a concert by the Miami Gay Men’s Chorus celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Village People at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road.
On Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28, walking tours will be offered of historic downtown Miami, including the stunning Olympia Theatre, Miami Beach’s iconic Arts Deco district and the hip Wynwood neighborhood with its world-famous murals.
Later, on May 28, historian Dr. Paul George will curate a boat tour of Biscayne Bay, including Stiltsville and the Cape Florida Lighthouse, on the Pelican Skipper with a special emphasis on LGBTQ history.
DanceNOW! will present a rare performance on Monday, May 29 of “Lacrymosa,” the landmark 1988 work by Miami native Edward Stierle and premiered by the Joffrey Ballet chronicling the AIDS crisis. Stierle would tragically also succumb to the disease at the age of 23.
On Thursday, June 1, the Pulse massacre in Orlando will be commemorated at the New World Center with a special performance by the Orlando Gay Chorus and the Frank Gehry-designed venue will be transformed into a multi-disciplinary arts experience featuring more than two dozen musicians, DJs, poets, performance artists and more.
The closing weekend will feature films at the Colony Theatre, including an award-winning documentary about the celebrated and influential male erotic artist Tom of Finland.
Throughout the festival, the Georg Stage, a Danish tall sailing ship will be docked at Museum Park. In addition to free tours, visitors can listen to a podcast-walk, “Sex and the Sea,” tales about love and intimacy, of passionate affairs and cold-hearted broads, of despondent, wistful daydreams and magic encounters.
Coombes said the festival offers smaller local arts organizations, particularly, a valuable opportunity to collaborate on a program before a global audience.
“I think for all of us, especially when you’re a small non-profit, it’s tough to write grants and create programming. Out Games has allowed us to get out of our silos and work together,” she said.
Noting the opening weekend of Out Games is also the busy Memorial Day weekend in crowded Miami Beach, Coombes encouraged all to use ride-sharing services and public transportation.
“Find some friends,” she said. “It’s all about community.”
For a complete schedule of World Out Games cultural events and tickets, go to OutGames.org.