New group organizing for 2014 Gay Games
by Roger Brigham
Ever since the relationship between the Federation of Gay Games and Cleveland Synergy Foundation soured earlier this year, it has been believed that a new group of Clevelanders would step up to sign a license agreement with the FGG to host Gay Games IX in 2014. Although nothing has yet been confirmed, it appears the new group is close to final formulation and ready to be announced.
Sources close to the Cleveland plans speaking on condition of anonymity told the Bay Area Reporter the new group includes representatives of Cleveland's city government, local businesses, and LGBT organizations. It is not known what representatives of sports or tourism organizations will be in the group.
It is expected the group will include Susan Doerfer, executive director of Equality Ohio; Scott Finerman, chief financial officer of the investment firm Second Generation; Jan Kline, executive director of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland; and Joe Roman, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, a 16,000-member chamber of commerce.
Doerfer and Finerman confirmed to the B.A.R. they had been approached to be in the group; messages left for Kline and Roman were not immediately returned.
In addition, Valarie McCall, Cleveland's chief of government affairs, will continue to represent Mayor Frank Jackson in the body that will take over the license agreement.
Reached by the B.A.R. this week, McCall confirmed that the mayor's office will be involved with the new group and that she will represent the office.
"This is going to be very important for the entire state of Ohio and have a tremendous local impact, so of course the mayor's office will continue to be involved," McCall said.
McCall represented Jackson's office with CSF before resigning shortly before the FGG announced it was ending its license agreement, alleging CSF had failed to file mandatory reports. (B.A.R..) CSF responded with a lawsuit in Ohio state court September 2 in an effort to regain the right to host the Gay Games, naming the FGG, the city of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, and McCall as defendants. (See Jock Talk.)
"I was asked by the city of Cleveland if I would sit on the committee," Doerfer said. "Having the Gay Games come to Cleveland is a huge thing for the state of Ohio. It's a real economic boost. To have the LGBT community spearhead something that is great for the community is of great importance."
Doerfer said as of last week the members of the new group had not met with each other and did not know who else was in the group.
Doerfer was an at-large delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, pledged to support nominee John Kerry. She was the executive director of the Cleveland LGBT center before moving on to Equality Ohio. She said she worked with numerous LGBT sports organizations while at the center. She was succeeded at the center by Kline.
Finerman donated $2,000 in 2007 to the campaign of City Councilman Joe Cimperman, a Democratic congressional candidate. Cimperman lost in the primary to incumbent Dennis Kucinich (D). Finerman has also been an officer in the Cleveland Baseball Federation, which provides baseball participation opportunities for inner city youth.
Kline's bio on the LGBT center's website says he has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising, with "experience in a variety of community-based concerns [that] includes social justice, LGBT issues, AIDS education, at-risk youth, mental health advocacy, fair housing regulation, and hunger relief."
Roman is a former congressional staffer and lobbyist and is a board member of the Cleveland International Fund.
Neither the FGG nor CSF is commenting on the pending litigation. Assuming CSF is not recognized by the courts as the license holder for Gay Games IX, the new group is expected to form a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the organization of Gay Games IX. It would have to sign the same preliminary agreement that CSF signed with the FGG, and then negotiate an official license agreement with the FGG and sign by December 15. If there is no agreement by that date, the FGG will begin negotiations with Washington Gaymes, the runner-up to CSF in 2009.
Although the FGG would not comment on the individuals involved with the new group, it did say it remained optimistic about the event.
"The Federation of Gay Games is pleased with the progress of Gay Games IX Cleveland 2014," spokesman Kelly Stevens said. "The people of Cleveland and northern Ohio have a great deal of talented, generous people. We applaud the progress and commitment of city government, and local community organizers. We look forward to a successful Gay Games IX Cleveland 2014."
Volunteers sought to shape 2018 Gay Games
If the dynamics of the 2014 Gay Games don't confuse you, consider that planning is already under way for a single LGBT sporting event in 2018.
Following a motion passed at the 2010 annual meeting of the Federation of Gay Games calling for a working group to develop bid proposals for a single quadrennial event for 2018, applications are being solicited for volunteers to be in the group. But there are discrepancies between what the motion called for and what the FGG is doing.
The motion, titled "2018 Working Group," calls for a group to be composed of "five or more members" to be nominated from the general public and voted onto the group by the FGG general assembly in an electronic ballot instant runoff election to be held by November 1.
That's not quite what is scheduled to happen. The application issued by the FGG board said that the FGG co-presidents (Kurt Dahl of Chicago and Emy Ritt of Paris) will automatically be placed in the group; seven members of the group will be chosen by the Gay and Lesbian Sports Association; and the FGG assembly will vote on only five members of the 14-member working group.
Applications for those slots are being accepted through October 28. An instant runoff election will follow. Initially, two of the slots will be for three-month terms and the other three for six-month terms. Instant runoff elections for six-month terms will be held at the end of each expiring term.
And although the motion said the group will be created through an FGG election, the solicitation for nominations that was published on the Gay Games blog (www.gaygamesblog.blogspot.com) refers to it as a "joint working group composed of seven members from each organization, FGG and GLISA, under the auspices and approval of both organizations' boards and general assembly."
The Gay Games blog also notes, "The exact nature of this event is to be determined by a joint working group composed of seven members from each organization, FGG and GLISA, under the auspices and approval of both organizations' boards and general assembly. FGG board and assembly approval is required for any subsequent bylaw changes."
Those bylaws state the organization's primary function is to stage the Gay Games every four years and that the site of those Gay Games is to be decided through a vote by the full members of the FGG general assembly.
But the solicitation does not mention by name Gay Games X, which would be held in 2018, and implies approval of the proposals for the 2018 event bids would be shared by the FGG assembly with GLISA. When a report published by GLISA earlier this year said that it was in discussions with the FGG co-presidents to drop the Gay Games name and give GLISA a role in picking the 2018 host and changing the composition of the sports and cultural festival to include a substantial conference component, the angry backlash from Gay Games loyalists led to a letter from more than 20 honorary lifetime members of the FGG to the board saying any such discussions should be occurring internally in the FGG, not externally with the organization that was created to compete directly with the Gay Games. (See March 18 Jock Talk. )
FGG spokesman Stevens said the organization is focused on ensuring the competition between the 28-year-old Gay Games and the six-year-old World Outgames ends with the 2018 quadrennial cycle.
"The Federation of Gay Games should work toward a single quadrennial event in 2018 in collaboration with GLISA," Stevens said. "The FGG is seeking strong Gay Games advocates for our working group that have demonstrated leadership in the LGBT sport and culture movement as we move forward toward one quadrennial event. The Gay Games legacy in the LGBT sports, culture and, indeed, human rights movement is vital to shaping the future events. We need to unite the world in our shared goals to bettering the lives of LGBT people from all over the world."
The application is available by clicking on the "2018" menu selection on the FGG website, www.gaygames.com.
Morgan gets big lift in retirement
Gay British powerlifter Chris Morgan announced before the 2010 Gay Games that it would be his last appearance in multlift events. He bowed out in August with a gold medal performance to go with his world and British championship gold medals earlier this year.
From now on, Morgan said, he will concentrate on deadlifting in single lift events. Last weekend in Malta, Morgan began his "retirement" with a silver medal deadlift in the Single European Deadlift Championships. Competing at 82.3 kilos (181.4 pounds), Morgan succeeded with lifts of 210 and 240 kilos before missing at 265 kilos in his final attempt.