Jumping, gliding, spinning at the chance —however you want to describe it in skating terms, Rudy Galindo is thrilled to join the Gay Games Ambassadors in support of the quadrennial LGBT sports event, now more than 20 years old, according to the Federation of Gay Games.
Galindo will also serve as Honorary Figure Skating Chair for Chicago's Gay Games VII, taking place from July 15-22, 2006.
'I've heard about the Gay Games for years and cannot wait to be part of my first one in Chicago,' Galindo said. 'So much of what the Gay Games promotes about being out and open in the sports world is exactly how I have lived my amateur and professional skating career.'
In 1996 at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Galindo burst from several champion pair skating years with partner Kristi Yamaguchi and lesser placements as a soloist to win the Men's Gold Medal—a victory all the sweeter as he upset two previous winners and it took place in his hometown of San Jose, California. He proved the performance wasn't a fluke by going on to earn a Bronze Medal at the World Championships a few weeks later.
Since that time Galindo has become one of the world's most popular professional skaters, earning standing ovations wherever he goes.
Part of Galindo's appeal is the way he has combined success on the national and international levels with an unabashed freedom of expression, skating the way he wants to skate and speaking about personal matters frankly and maturely. He has been open about his sexuality since his autobiography, Icebreaker, was published in 1996 and about his HIV+ status since being diagnosed in early 2001.
'Rudy's message perfectly fits the vision and mission of the Gay Games, with one of the main goals being to provide a safe and welcoming environment where people living with HIV can accomplish their personal bests in their sports,' said Kathleen Webster, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games.
'I think it's important to be up front about my HIV status and find it difficult to imagine not being out, open and proud,' Galindo said. 'Staying in the closet wasn't something I really even considered. I'm just being me.'
Galindo has an active professional career and this week is appearing in the 'Legends on Ice' show in Long Beach, Calif. Beginning in late December he will be on tour in 'Broadway on Ice' shows and will be among the performers in the 2005 edition of 'Champions on Ice.'
At age 35, Galindo now lives in Reno, Nevada. His older sister, Laura Galindo-Black, continues as his coach.
'It means a lot to me to be asked to support the Gay Games movement, knowing that the Gay Games' key founder, Dr. Tom Waddell, died from AIDS during an era when treatments were not as advanced as today,' Galindo said. 'The many organizations that make up the Federation of Gay Games are about fitness for life as much as they are about organizing competitions.'
Online Hotel Booking System
Athletes, artists and fans planning to attend Gay Games VII in Chicago, July 15-22, 2006, can now make reservations at several downtown hotels online from the Gay Games website. Chicago opened reservations at GayGamesChicago.org for nearly 20,000 room nights during the week of the Gay Games.
Offered in partnership with area hotels, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and One Stop Chicago, the online reservation system provides access to the large block of reasonably priced accommodations. In this first phase, nearly 20,000 room nights are available at nine separate downtown Chicago hotels with room rates starting at US$109/night, a discount of as much as 50% off regular hotel rates.
Two area hotels—the Hilton Chicago on South Michigan and the Palmer House Hilton —have been designated by GGVII as two of the 'Hub Hotels.' Official Gay Games activities will take place at these hotels including onsite registration, sponsor exhibits, and a business expo. The Hilton Chicago will also be the site of the Media Center as well as the DanceSport competition.
In addition to the two Hiltons, other hotels participating in the room block include: Best Western Inn of Chicago, Fairmont Hotel, Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, Hotel 71, Omni Ambassador East, Omni Chicago Hotel, and the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.
'Chicago is proud to be hosting Gay Games VIII,' said Brad Lewis, Vice President of Tourism for the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau. 'Visitors will find Chicago to be a very gay-friendly destination and our allies in the hospitality community are welcoming visiting guests by providing very competitive rates.'
'Early in the bidding process for Gay Games VII, Chicago's hotels contacted us to offer their full support for the effort to host the world in 2006,' said Chris Grace, who spearheaded the hotel negotiations, working with CGI board members Rob Hunden and Tracy Baim and attorney Gary Medler. 'These professionals have a passion and spirit behind their commitment to the Gay Games and we are gratified that this has been represented in affordable room rates that are at beautiful, centrally located hotels.'
Other housing options, including dorm rooms, youth hostels, and hosted housing by area residents, will be announced in coming months.
London and Berlin
Greater London Authority and London's umbrella sports group, Out For Sport, arehosting Chicago Gay Games representatives for a special information session for London area athletes, artists and others. This event takes place from noon to 2 p.m. at London City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London SE1 2AA, in committee rooms 4 and 5 on the lower ground floor. All are welcome. There is no charge to participate.
Traveling from Chicago will be Tracy Baim, Gay Games VII Co-Vice Chair, and member of the Chicago Games Executive Committee.
Team Berlin, Vorspiel Sportverein für Schwule und Lesben Berlin e.V., and Chicago Gay Games 2006 invite people to a special information session for Berlin area athletes, artists and fans. This event takes place from 7-9 p.m. at Schwulenberatung Kursiv e.V., Mommsenstrasse 45, 10629 Berlin.
Traveling to Berlin to make this presentation will be Kevin Boyer, Co-Vice Chair of the Board of Chicago Games, Inc., and chair of the CGI Marketing Communications Committee, a team of 80 volunteers plus staff consultants working to make the world aware of the Gay Games.
See www.gaygameschicago.org .
Frontrunners Water Station Wins Another Prize
Frontrunners has been awarded the $1,000 first-place prize for best water station in The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. This year an online vote was taken, allowing runners to vote for their favorite water station. Marathon officials declared the results Oct. 27.
The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon poured 40,000 runners onto the streets of Chicago, and Frontrunners poured more than enough water and Gatorade to meet the demand. The Frontrunners' 8-mile water station at Broadway and Melrose treated runners not only to refreshments but also to a festive celebration of mustached cheerleaders, go-go dancers on stage, and colorful characters dressed in Village People costumes. As the marathon runners came by, many of them high-fived volunteers, danced to 'Y.M.C.A.' and even stopped to take pictures.
Frontrunners/Frontwalkers is Chicago's gay and lesbian running and walking club. Runners and walkers of all levels and of all interests are welcome. Fun runs/walks are Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. at The Totem Pole in Lincoln Park near Addison and Lake Shore Drive. Just show up.