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AsiaPacific Outgames approaching
by Ross Forman
2010-12-01

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The next major LGBT sporting event with multiple disciplines is the 2nd AsiaPacific Outgames, set for March 12-19, 2011, in Wellington, New Zealand—and about 2,500 are expected, with 18 sports, a human-rights conference and at least 20 arts/cultural events.

"The Gay Games and World Outgames are like the Olympics—wonderfully huge events in huge cities. The regional Outgames are more intimate," said David Hindley, co-chair of the AsiaPacific Outgames. "We still have a wide choice of events, but everything is more compact. Our venues are closer together; some arts and cultural events are more intimate. The world sporting events are great for people with the incomes to attend them, but having regional events allows access to a much wider section of our communities, because travel costs are lower."

There have been successful continental Outgames in North America and AsiaPacific. The 1st AsiaPacific Outgames, for example, was held in Melbourne, Australia, and attracted more than 1,800 participants and coincided with Melbourne's LGBTI Midsumma Festival, an arts and cultural event.

Most of the participants at the Wellington Outgames will be Kiwis and Aussies ( New Zealanders and Australians ) , but Hindley said they expect participants from more than 15 Asian and Pacific countries, and they already have people registered from the U.S., Canada and Germany, among other countries. There also are confirmed participants from Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia, as well as Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Samoa, and other countries.

Hindley said the male-female breakdown of Kiwis will be about equal. "We have a very strong women's community here, a strong lesbian input into planning the event," he said, noting that, a couple of years ago in New Zealand, the Prime Minister was a woman, the Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition party was a woman, and the chief executive of the largest company was a woman.

"For people coming from overseas, there will be slightly more men than women."

Read more story below....

The top sports at the Wellington Outgames likely will be ten pin bowling, swimming and running, with volleyball being the biggest team sport. Diving likely will be the most popular sporting event for spectators, Hindley said.

"In terms of total numbers, the biggest events will be our opening ceremony—which takes place in our national museum, a spectacular building on the Wellington waterfront—and our closing night party."

Hindley acknowledged that participants from the U.S. at the Wellington Outgames will be "a small percentage."

But that likely will include U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, David Huebner, who is openly gay man, "and is very supportive of the Outgames," Hindley said. "He has suggested that he may host a special welcome event here just for American participants."

Hindley, 49, is a technical publisher for books and websites for architects and builders. He is the Wellington Outgames' co-chair along with Virginia Hopkins-Burns, and he may participate in running and swimming events.

"Many Kiwis have strong links to people in the USA—we have attended Gay Games in San Francisco, New York and Chicago, for example, and made good friends there, so we will be keen to welcome Americans to Wellington in 2011. We respect that North America has its own regional Outgames in Vancouver much later in 2011, and Kiwis will be there, too.

"Wellington is a very compact city on the edge of a beautiful harbour. It is very easy to get around; it is gay-friendly; the food and wine is wonderful; the cultural events are great, such as opera and jazz, but we will be adding some uniquely Kiwi aspects to the Outgames to make each person feel individually welcomed. We will provide an authentic Maori welcome; Maori are the indigenous people in New Zealand, and many other events especially designed to allow international visitors to meet the locals.

"We also want to break down the walls between different parts of the event. So if you want to compete in ten pin bowling or swimming during the morning, for example, then listen to the stories of one of our amazing conference speakers later in the day, we'd like to make that possible."

Hindley confirmed that several members of the AsiaPacific Outgames organizing team competed at the recent Gay Games in Cologne, Germany.

"The city council is very generous in its support of the Outgames," Hindley said. "Gay couples and groups enjoy restaurants and bars across the city, and it is illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians under New Zealand law. There is a gay swim group, a gay running group ( Wellington Frontrunners ) , a gay business group ( Rainbow Wellington ) , and more."

And a member of Parliament for Wellington is a gay man, Hindley said.

"Our biggest goal for the event is to ensure that every single person who attends has a fantastic time," Hindley said. "That means making sure that people feel welcome; we even will have people [ welcoming ] at the airport, making sure people have easy access to information, but most of all providing a uniquely Kiwi experience—an informal, relaxed and intimate experience where you get to meet people, make new friends, and enjoy something that you can't find in any other country.

"We will judge our success on the feedback and response we get from participants. The organizing team and our volunteers will be out there and visible. We want to show you our great little city; we want to make sure that you meet some locals, that you get to hear the incredible stories of some of the conference speakers. We want to see you on the dance floor."

Here's more about David Hindley:

—Favorite spectator sport: Diving and dancesport

—Favorite participant sport: Triathlon

—Favorite athlete: Matthew Mitcham

—Favorite team: All Blacks, New Zealand's national rugby team

—Job duties and responsibilities for the AsiaPacific Outgames: "I was part of the small group which made the bid for the 2nd AsiaPacific Outgames over two years ago. As co-chair, I steer the executive committee, with a particular responsibility in marketing. I also [ act as a liaison ] with VIPs, including the mayor of Wellington; local members of parliament; business and community leaders; and our patron, His Excellency Sir Anand Satyanand, GNZM, QSO, the governor-general of New Zealand."


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