What Does It Take to Plan Such a Big Event?

Hotspots Exclusive Interview

The World OutGames are one of the premier athletic competitions organized by the LGBT community in the world. Licensed by and produced with the cooperation of the Gay and WorldOutGames_copyLesbian International Sport Association (GLISA), the World OutGames has been held three times before: in Montreal in 2006, in Copenhagen in 2009 and in Antwerp in 2013. The World OutGames are open to all who wish to participate, regardless of sexual orientation or athletic experience.

For 2017, the fourth World OutGames will be held right in our backyard, as Miami Beach plays host to 15,000 delegates from all over the world, coming together in fellowship and celebrating sports, culture and human rights. The ten-day event will begin on Friday, May 26 and will end on Sunday, June 4, and will be the product of over four years of planning and hard work from the World OutGames Miami Beach team and an extensive team of volunteers. Sporting competitions will be offered in 35 different disciplines; some, like netball, will be introduced for the very first time at the 2017 World OutGames.

Recently the World OutGames Miami Beach team selected three “Champions” in the local community, and their job will be to participate as goodwill ambassadors, promoting human rights locally and wherever they travel. Those three Champions are University of Massachusetts shooting guard Derrick Gordon, Real Housewife of Miami Lea Black, and Miami Beach performer and icon Elaine Lancaster.

I spoke with World OutGames Miami Beach co-chair Ivan Cano about what they have done in the past year to prepare for the 2017 games and what’s in store for them moving forward in this exclusive Hotspots interview.WorldOutGames_copy3

What has this past year been like getting everything ready for the 2017 games?

A lot of things have been going on; I can’t believe it’s only 94 weeks now until the 2017 games! The first thing that we had to do was cement our team. All of them are knowledgeable and experts in their field so they are big assets to the project. Right now, nobody is getting paid to work on the project, but we’ve been very lucky to get passionate people from the community who are ready to put in whatever work is needed to showcase Miami Beach not just to our local community but to our global guests.

How excited are you all to be able to showcase Miami Beach to all of these visitors who are coming from all over the world?

We’re very excited. Our cultural director is creating great programming that includes scheduling bands and chorus competitions, working with film festivals as well as with with arts and artists to put together some great events. Our social director is making connections throughout the world so he can organize a lot of fun social events for men and women. He also has a big hand in planning events for our athlete village, and he’s also organizing events for athletes who are competing but will be away from the main village area. Right now, as part of Miami Beach’s legacy in World OutGames history, we are placing a high priority on marketing and outreach to women.

WorldOutGames_copy1Have you and the host committee found that you’ve taken notes from other cities, such as 2013 World OutGames host Antwerp, and upcoming North American OutGames host St. Louis?

Yes. The good thing about being involved with the World OutGames is that it is connected to GLISA international, and I have a seat on the international board. With that privilege, we’ve received a wealth of knowledge and support from past hosts, including Antwerp and 2009 host Copenhagen. Cindy Brown, one of our co-chairs, has been working on the best ways to give human rights a platform in Miami Beach from a European colleague who worked on Antwerp and also on Copenhagen. Collaboration is important, so we want to incorporate all of these perspectives, both local and international, into one great product.

Speaking of collaboration, a Japanese LGBT rights delegation recently visited the team in South Florida. What was that like?

I’ve been an activist for over 11 years, and I think it’s important to educate when in a leadership role. They didn’t know how to formally organize, and they wanted to know a lot about what itWorldOutGames_copy2 takes to get things off the ground at home. They also wanted to know more about transgender inclusion and how to get youth more involved in the organization. The Japanese really inspired us because they saw that we recently achieved marriage equality and they left with information on how to lobby their lawmakers to advance LGBT rights in their country.

How can our readers support the World OutGames coming up in Miami Beach?

As far as corporate sponsorship is concerned, people can call me at (305) 319-2693 and I’d be happy to discuss options with them. If you’d like to participate in 2017, we are opening registration soon. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to participate, nor do you have to be a part of a team to participate. Just register as an individual and you can be placed in a category with other individual participants. To volunteer, visit our website at outgames.org. Get involved, get trained, and talk about it!

For more information on the World OutGames, visit outgames.org. “Like” the World OutGames Miami Beach team on Facebook for real-time updates by visiting facebook.com/OutGamesMiami and pressing “like.”