On Their Marks

Minnesota athletes prepare for Gay Games V in Amsterdam

Holland floods again this month, this time submerged in a sea of queer athletes, musicians, artists, and tourists. The Gay Games Amsterdam 1998 kicks off Aug. 2, showcasing the accomplishments of GLBT folk from around the world as they perform in contests, concerts, and competitions for five days. From the parade down the Prinsengracht to the practices in suburban arenas, queers will show their gay pride as well as prowess during the fifth annual Gay Games celebration.

Dutch organizers claim that more than 70 Minnesotans have registered to attend the global festival. But not all registrants will actually compete in sporting events. Local athletes have only loosely organized, many planning to travel to Europe alone, and many are unfamiliar with the musicans and artists who will participate in the festival.

Team Minnesota rower John Godeen says his fellow rowers hatched a plan to attend the Games nearly two years ago. In addition to almost-daily practices, the team has produced a calendar, sponsored parties, sought corporate sponsors, and created a line of notecards with photographer Tom Bianchi in an effort to raise funds for the trip. Still, Godeen says, the trip to the Games isn't just about earning a medal: "I'm not necessarily concerned about winning a medal or placing in an event," the rower says. "I'd rather that we focus on rowing the best we can in each race."

On Saturday, July 25, Q Monthly photographed Gay Games participants on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Among the Minnesota athletes competing in this year's Games are (above, from left): Rowers Joe Alfano and John Godeen, runners Brian Neil and John Billig, swimmers Dave Biemesderfer and Scott Winter, and rowers Matt Kisser, Deborah Fletcher, Anne Graham, Bob Charbonneau, Brad Betlach, and Jeff Farnsworth. (Team Minnesota notecards can be obtained by sending E-mail to TeamMnCrew@aol.com.)

 
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