PALM SPRINGS (CNS) - Palm Springs city officials are in France this week, set to represent the city at the 2018 Gay Games in Paris, marking the first time Palm Springs has had an official team at the event.
About 50 participants hailing from the desert will take part in the opening ceremonies, set for Aug. 4, as well as the athletic portion, which will pit participants against one another across more than 36 competitive sports, including track and field, tennis, golf, basketball, swimming, diving, water polo, hockey, fencing, cycling, wrestling and volleyball.
More than 12,000 athletes from 91 countries are expected to take part in the 2018 games, a week-long event that will also include a series of conferences on topics like equality and fighting discrimination. The games, which are akin to the Olympics, held its first inaugural event in San Francisco in 1982. Among the city's representatives are City Councilman Geoff Kors and his husband, James Williamson, president of the Palm Springs Unified School District Board, both of whom will be taking part in the tennis portion of the tournament, as well as the opening ceremonies.
Following Palm Springs' historic election last year that seated the first ever all-LGBTQ city council in the nation's history, Kors said its inclusion in this year's Gay Games only furthered the city's notoriety as an inclusive, supportive community.``One of the best things about becoming the first LGBTQ city council was not the fact that we were all LGBTQ. The polling showed that about 55 percent of voters were not LGBTQ,'' Kors told City News Service.
``Everyone was just judged on their own merits. That's the world that we're trying to achieve.''Former Councilwoman Ginny Foat flew to France Friday to join her former colleague on the city council. Foat and her partner will take part in the opening ceremonies at Jean Bouin Stadium next Saturday. Foat said she looked forward to acting as ``ambassadors'' for Palm Springs and promoting the city on the international stage.
City and tourism officials hope Team Palm Springs' appearance will help spur interest in visiting the city, particularly from members of Europe's LGBTQ community.``Palm Springs is a tremendously popular destination for LGBTQ visitors, so we are thrilled to have Team Palm Springs traveling to Paris to represent our city in the 2018 Gay Games,'' said Mary Jo Ginther, director of the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism.
``This is a wonderful opportunity to promote Palm Springs in France, a country whose citizens love architecture and travel frequently to our destination.''The games will be held from Aug. 4 through Aug. 11 at more than 50 venues throughout Paris and the Ile-de-France region.