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Monday, July 2, 2012

Budapest Eurogames 2012

We hope you all had fun over the weekend, and I personally wanted to share what I got up to because I feel it very pertinent to the work we do here at the project.

I play for an LGBT Basketball Team, and this weekend we headed to Budpest to attend the EuroGames. The EuroGames is a championship event for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe. It is in its 14th year.

This was a fantastic event, with a great many sports being played by athletes who had travelled from all over Europe to compete. This event is important for so many reasons. Homophobia in sport is still very rife, and there are few role models for young people to turn to within their chosen sport.

I take my hat off to all the organisers of Eurogames 2012 Budapest for whom it was a great challenge to host this event in an eastern european country, having had no backing from the Hungarian government, or Budapest City Hall. Instead they had to seek individual patrons, who should all also be applauded.

Former WNBA player Sue Wicks also showed her support by not only attending the event, but giving players some tips! She is one of the few players to have ever talked openly about her sexual orientation during her career, and has been an inspiration to many. She was kind enough to let us have a picture taken with her.

But for me personally, and for our team, it was only when we boarded the athletes bus to be taken to the basketball centre that it really struck us how important it was that we had attended this event. Security was of upmost importance, and despite the fact that Bruce Willis was literally down the road filming the 5th Die Hard*, the athletes buses were deemed enough of a risk to require a full police escort.

I have never encountered that before, though it has long been my mission to be so super-dooper I need this kind of attention everywhere I go... The fact that a bus full of LGBT athletes is a potential target, that we needed that level of protection, and that we were advised not to wear our players passes outside of organised areas, made us realise that we really weren't in 'kansas' anymore...

It might sound obvious that this would be the case. Even in my home city people can suffer abuse for wearing a pride wristband, but even I was shocked to find armed police standing by. When we were dropped off the entire road was closed so that we could disembark.

There were reports that some athletes had suffered abuse, and had been spit on despite the precautions.

Here at the project we report on a great many horrendous crimes going on all over the world relating to LGBT abuse. The fact is however, no matter how aware you are of these atrocities, nothing drives the message home faster than being put in a potentially life threatening situation. The mere suggestion of threat was enough to make me grateful (all over again) for all the love and support I receive, and the relative safety I enjoy. I hope, by proxy, you can all say the same. And for those who can't, we're doing everything we can, stick with us.

Needless to say I have returned with even more energy and drive for this project. I want a police escort - but only if it's because I'm so awesome people can't control themselves in front of me.

Georgey probably already has one... he he.

* Yes, Die Hard 5 was being flimed on the very street that our apartment was on - no, I didn't see him - yes, I would have liked to.