PALM SPRINGS — A contingent of about 40 to 50 people from the Coachella Valley, christened Team Palm Springs, are jetting to Paris, France for the 2018 Gay Games that will be held Aug. 4-12.
Among the group are Geoff Kors, Palm Springs City Councilmember; James Williamson, president of the Palm Springs Unified School District Board; Ginny Foat, former member of the Palm Springs City Council and executive director of the Mizell Senior Center; and David Vogel, founder of Digicom Learning.
It is an unprecedented adventure for Kors and Williamson — and for an organized contingent from the desert.
Members of the group plan to participate in tennis, track and field, golf, bowling, and swimming.
Kors and Williamson will show their mettle in singles and doubles tennis.
As for Williamson, the purpose of the trip is not complicated. “Fun,” he exclaimed with double exclamation points. “But really the same type of goal as the Olympics — building international camaraderie, etc. through cooperation and fair play.”
The group will bear the Palm Springs banner during Opening Ceremonies and Closing Ceremonies. This year marks the 10th Edition of the games since they were created in 1982 in San Francisco. The Games are held every four years.
“As a member of our nation’s first all LGBTQ City Council,” I am proud to lead Team Palm Springs for the first time at the 2018 Gay Games in Paris,” Kors said. “Palm Springs is known around the world for being an exceptionally welcoming and inclusive community where we respect and celebrate everyone. I am incredibly excited to represent our city and I look forward to promoting Palm Springs to the LGBTQ community and the thousands of athletes joining us from around the world.”
The Gay Games are the biggest sport and cultural event open to all over 18 years old without distinction of gender, sexual orientation, race, handicap, and also without any selection, according to Thomas Mareau, press relations manager for the Gay Games. The Games are expected to bring together more than 10 000 participants and 300 000 spectators around three principles: Participation, Inclusion and Transcendency.
The Games are a worldwide sport and cultural event that include 36 sports, 14 cultural events, many conferences and festivities.
This year’s sports include track and field, tennis, golf, basketball, swimming, diving, water polo, hockey, fencing, cycling, wrestling and volleyball. More than 12,000 athletes are expected to compete from 91 countries. Participants include everyone from beginners to Olympic medalists.
“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,” Mary Jo Ginther, director of the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism, said in a prepared statement.
Team Palm Springs will be promoting tourism’s newly developed website, gayestplaceintheworld.com to the LGBTQ community while in Paris. The URL was created for Team Palm Springs while attending the Games. The Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism made for the banner they will carry at Opening Ceremonies along with some other marketing elements like T-Shirts and little giveaways to help promote Palm Springs.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to promote Palm Springs in France, a country whose citizens love architecture and travel frequently to our destination,” Ginther said.
No taxpayer dollars are being used to offset costs, Communications Director Amy Blaisdell said. Members of “Team Palm Springs” are paying their own way.
Kors and Williamson will be filling exclusive periodic updates from Paris for Uken Report.
Editor’s note: All photos are courtesy of “Paris 2018 – Gay Games 10”