It’s 7:56 p.m. The date is July 29, 2006. The city: Montréal, Canada.
A boisterous crowd of 60,000 gays and lesbians from around the
world, and their straight friends, has assembled in Montréal’s Olympic Stadium.
Exactly 30 years to the day after the Closing Ceremonies of the 1976 Olympics, all of Montréal
is poised to welcome the world with open arms to another major sporting event:
The 1st World Outgames.
Montréal's Olympic Stadium ©Tourisme Montréal
This is the image, writes OutUK
correspondent Steven Leclerc, that pops
to mind for Lucie Duguay, Co-President of the 1st World Outgames, when she is asked
to imagine the 2006 event.
“With minutes to go, I believe that the atmosphere in the stands will be electrifying.
Anticipation will grow as the last few moments tick away before the ceremonies begin…
In the Stadium’s centre field, dozens of technicians and volunteers will be scurrying
about to put the final touches to the dazzling show that is about to start,” says
Lucie with an obvious look of anticipation spread across her trademark smiling face.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
With 12,000 athletes, 2,000 cultural programme participants and hundreds of other guests
from around the world waiting in the wings getting ready to march out on the field and
celebrate with pride, the Stadium will indeed be a frenzied place. Cirque du Soleil
and Québec diva Diane Dufresne will perform during the Opening Ceremonies and the event
will be broadcast live on Canadian national tv.
“Getting live coverage of an international LGBT sports event by a mainstream broadcaster
is a first that we are very proud of,” says Lucie with an obvious sparkle in her eye.
Since 2001, Montréal has been preparing for these eight days of competition, pride and celebration.
A team of 20 staff members and dozens of volunteers is hard at work under the adept leadership
of Louise Roy, the Outgames’ GM. “The team of people I have the pleasure of working with at
Montréal 2006 is one of the key reasons for our success. We are well aware of the fact
that we are accountable to the people of Montréal and to the international LGBT community.
With less than 18 months to go, everything we do on a day-to-day basis provides us with a
better opportunity to see just how unique the 1st World Outgames will be,” says the
former city councillor and events organiser who took up the challenge of producing these games right from the start.
GAY VILLAGE SPRUCES UP
The city, and particularly its Gay Village, have been sprucing themselves up and
getting ready to stage an unforgettable event that will highlight individual
achievements and team accomplishments. For many members of our community worldwide,
making it to the Outgames and being a part of such a global LGBT event will be a dream come true.
When asked how he feels about the city he has adopted, two-time Olympic-gold medal swimmer, Mark Tewksbury,
who is also Lucie Duguay’s colleague as Outgames Co-President, is effusive. “Montréal is a great place
to be gay! A great place to be out!”
For the Outgames, Mark is definitely banking on Montréal’s
flair. He states unequivocally that “Montréal 2006’s goal is to capture the hearts and minds of
the world. True to the spirit of this city and its people, we will be presenting a show of
human creativity, endurance and achievement that will foster camaraderie and will reward
participation in sports, culture and the arts.”
Mark Tewksbury. ©gayportugal.pt
In addition to the nationally televised Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Outgames
will feature a number of competitions and exhibition events for choirs, bands,
cheerleading teams, and country western and square dancing groups. Festivities throughout
the week will also feature various live stage performances at Rendez-Vous Square, right
next to the city’s Gay Village, in addition to live shows at the other main venues.
Rendez-Vous Square will, in fact, act as the central meeting place for visitors, residents
and participants alike, providing information booths and food concessions, a ticketing office
for the different competitions and parties, live stage performances and the official medals podium.
Also, Radio-Canada plans to host a one hour daily wrap-up show live from Rendez-Vous Square.
THE RIGHT TO BE DIFFERENT
As part of this goal, Montréal 2006 has decided to branch out beyond sports and
cultural competitions. As such, for three full days prior to the Opening Ceremonies,
Montréal will host a gathering of 2,000 delegates at the city’s Palais des Congrès
(Montréal’s newly expanded convention centre) who will be attending “The Right to Be
Different” International Conference – the largest international LGBT rights conference ever held.
Reaching Out: 4,000 and Climbing!
Already, Montréal 2006 is gearing up to be a huge success. Registration for the Outgames
has topped the 4,000 mark and organisers are right on target for their July 2006 deadline.
“We are very enthusiastic about those numbers and are pleased to see so many people
registering at such an early date,” states Lucie Duguay.
OutUK is an official media partner of Outgames Montréal 2006 and we'll be keeping you updated
with all the latest news between now and July 2006. You can get full registration
details at www.montreal2006.org