Thursday, March 09, 2006

Chicago's Gay Games Draws Out The Bigots

The 7th Annual Gay Games comes to Chicago this summer from July 15-22, and it is expected to draw 12,000 participants from 70 countries from around the world. Four months ahead of the event it is already drawing out the bigots who want to keep gays out of their community.

Organizers of the event have scheduled most of the events in the City of Chicago, but other events are being scheduled throughout the Chicagoland area. One such event is the rowing event, which organizers plan to hold in Crystal Lake, a northwestern suburb. But anti-gay bigots showed up in mass at a local park board meeting to block the event from being held in their community.

Local residents packed a board meeting in an ugly, public display of bigotry to speak out against the event and to complain that hosting it was "against our traditional values", would bring a "group with a high risk of AIDS" into our community and "expose our children to the homosexual lifestyle." The park's manager said he received hundreds of hateful e-mails. Last week, the board voted the gay games event down on a 2-2 tie vote, allowing the bigots to win.

According to the event organizers, the rowing event is a relatively small event. There will be about 75 participants and no more than a couple hundred spectators at the event. To listen to the television reports from the area, including a report by WMAQ-TV, you would have thought the whole town was about to be overrun by gays.

Board president Jerry Sullivan was on vacation in Mexico when the initial vote was taken last week and reacted with anger and embarrassment upon his return. He insisted upon another vote at last night's board meeting. Proponents pointed out that to deny the group the right to hold the event in Crystal Lake simply because they were gay violated Illiniois' new civil rights law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination, which took effect earlier this year. After a several-hour, heated meeting, the Board approved hosting the rowing event on a 3-2 vote.

The Gay Games was started back in the 1980s as a way of promoting acceptance of gays and lesbians and to bring together people from around the world. Let's hope the event will teach the folks in Crystal Lake a little something about tolerance and acceptance. They could sure use it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's really interesting that people who don't like to have a label attached to them -- "we're people just like you" -- seem pretty quick to attach labels to anyone who doesn't agree with their point of view. Do you really believe that a person can't have an opposing view without being a bigot? You obviously haven't followed the politics regarding lake usage over the past 20 years!