BY CANDY PARKER
The worldOutgames III, a quadrennial global event hosted by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex (LGBTQI) community for open-minded athletes of all sexual orientations, were held August 3 – 11 in Antwerp, Belgium. The event, conceived by the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA), is designed to promote three pillars of activity: fair play in sports, cultural engagement, and universal human rights awareness.
The games offer athletes, arranged according to respective skill level, the opportunity to compete in approximately 35 different sporting events. The event also features an international cultural festival and international human rights conference. Last week, the conference resulted in the adoption of the “From Safe Harbours to Equality” document promoting global LGBTQI rights.
Recently GLISA Co-President and Director-at-Large Julia Applegate shared her thoughts on the games.
What do the worldOutgames mean to you personally?
For me they represent three of the most important aspects of my life. I am an athlete, a lesbian, a feminist and a performer. There is no better place for all of those elements of my identity to come together than at the Outgames.
Do you have any words or advice for young LGBTQ athletes?
Be safe, do your best and get to know fellow athletes from around the world. Some of my strongest friendships have been developed through LGBT sport. In fact, I met my partner of 12 years through LGBT swimming. Don’t make the mistake of hanging out with only your team mates from home. Reach out and get to know someone new. Learn about cultures from all over the world. Have fun and eat lots of yummy Belgian chocolate!
What message do you want the worldOutgames to send to the world?
The LGBT community worldwide is strong. We are working across geographic, economic and cultural barriers to build a movement for LGBT liberation that celebrates our similarities, but is cognizant of our differences. We are not going away and we want to be treated with the dignity and respect fitting any of the worlds’ peoples. We believe OUTgames events bring us closer in that struggle.
“Love United” was the theme for this year’s games and the spirit of the event was evident on the faces of the participants.