Since its humble beginning as a gay and lesbian sports club in 1982, Apollo: Friends in Sports has become North America’s longest running GLBT sports league and has hosted the Western Cup Tournament for several years. Western Cup is now seen as the longest operating annual sports events in North America.
Given that record, the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA), the organizers of OutGames Continental Games, were eager to approach Apollo to host OutGames 2007 in conjunction with Western Cup XXV.
"Apollo’s main focus is the OutGames aspect, the sporting aspect," said Apollo president, Don Buckley. "But there are three components to this – OutGames, OutRights which is the human rights conference, and OutFest, the cultural aspect."
"We aren’t experts in rights issues or cultural events," he said. "Because we wanted this to be a community event in keeping with OutGames’ philosophy but, also as a way to honour our 25th anniversary, we approached a variety of organizations within the community to partner with us on this."
The idea of OutGames and the cultural and conference aspects are modeled after the EuroGames and, like those, OutGames will be a GLBT continental event, not just Canadian or Canadian/American.
While Apollo was the initiator of all the events, and coined the terms "OutFest" and "OutRights," it was important other organizations in the Calgary GLBT community took ownership of the latter two events.
Even within the sporting aspect of OutGames, Apollo has partnered with other organizations.
"When Western Cup first began, we featured three events – badminton, volleyball, and bowling. We now have expanded that to seven sports, including swimming events, running, and this year we are introducing ice hockey," said Buckley. "The swimming events are being organized by Different Strokes, while the running events are being organized by Calgary Frontrunners," he added.
"The spirit behind Western Cup has always been to facilitate opportunities for members of the GLBT community, and our supporters, to come together in a spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition."
Adding these further events to Western Cup XXV, and coordinating that with OutGames, will allow for even greater community participation, said Buckley. "OutGames is the umbrella for the week long series of events and while they are all interconnected, they are all distinct components."
When GLISA approached Apollo to do this, the board quickly agreed to tackle the enormous task of hosting OutGames. "We are proud to be hosting OutGames and we are honoured to have GLISA recognize our being the longest-running GLBT sporting event in North America."
The week (April 2 – 8) features OutRights, a human rights conference, OutFest, a cultural event featuring Lily Tomlin as the headliner (see article, page 12), and Western Cup’s anniversary event.
"Our segment kicks off with the traditional Friday night party at the Westin, which we are calling "Cowboys and Queens," chuckled Buckley.
The various events are being held at different venues and feature the 3rd Annual Apollo Idol karaoke event, the Casino, and a line dancing event.
Saturday night is the Western Cup XXV Dance, "Silver," being held at the TELUS Convention Centre North. It will feature one of the top DJ’s in North America, DJ Tracy Young, who also performed at the recent Montreal OutGames.
The week wraps up with a Celebration event on Sunday, but go and visit the website for more information.