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The Chicagoist Gay Games Cleveland Event Guide

By Jessica Mlinaric in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 9, 2014 8:00PM

Credit: Larry Highbaugh Jr.

Over 9,000 sports fans will flood Northeast Ohio in the next week, and don't expect to catch them waiting outside of Lebron James' house. Both Cleveland and Akron, OH, are hosting the ninth edition of the Gay Games, an international sporting and cultural event held every four years.

Forget Sochi—the Gay Games is inclusive of all athletes regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender identity, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic or artistic ability, age, physical challenge or health status. The event draws participants and visitors from all over the world, including about 10 percent of supporter participants who are non-LGBT, promoting community and consciousness on a global scale.

In addition to standard athletic events, like softball and swimming, the programming ranges from bowling to rodeo and includes cultural competitions like choral and band performances. Most sporting competitions and Festival Village events are free to spectators.

The weeklong celebration also includes plenty of affiliated cultural and educational programming for the non-sporting types. Check out the Gay Games event schedule for a full list of programming and see our picks and tips below for getting into the games.

Pomp & Circumstance

Opening Ceremony: August 9, 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Get “so excited” to kick off the Gay Games loud & proud with an opening ceremony lineup including Lance Bass, the Pointer Sisters, Andrea McArdle (Broadway), and Alex Newell (Glee). Expect a dazzling display of Broadway-style musical tributes, dancers, cheerleaders, and the 2014 Gay Games community chorus and team marching band. Don’t miss the raising of the Rainbow Flag and a special appearance by Olympic champion and LGBT advocate Greg Louganis.
Spectators $20 - $75; Free for participants
Quicken Loans Arena, 1 Center Ct. Cleveland, OH 44115

Closing Ceremony - August 16; 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
The Gay Games wraps up with a participant procession, fashion show by Andrew Christian, and one last Cleveland outdoor dance party before the games head to Paris in 2018.
Tickets $15
Mall C, Lakeside Avenue at West Mall Drive in Downtown Cleveland

Raise a Glass

Drink and Dazzle at PlayhouseSquare: August 9; 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Did you know Cleveland’s PlayhouseSquare is the country’s largest performing arts center outside of NYC? Go and raise a complimentary glass of champagne at this pre-opening ceremony celebration and enjoy the Theater District’s dazzling outdoor chandelier (East 14th St. and Euclid Ave.).
Free (Cash bar)
State Theater Lobby, 1519 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44115

Educate and Achieve

National Conference on LGBTI Health Research: August 9; 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex researchers and community members will gather to discuss the findings of a 2011 Institute of Medicine report on the current state of LGBTI health research. The event’s aims are to raise visibility by creating a dialogue around LGBTI health issues and future needs, develop an agenda to guide research, and provide opportunities for students and researchers to learn more about training and health research.
Baldwin Wallace University Center for Innovation & Growth 340 Front St. Berea, OH 44017
Free and open to the public

"Game Change" Conference: August 13; 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Explore LGBT issues in 21st Century sports and culture with the goal of “game change.” Documentary filmmaker Stu Maddux (“Gen Silent”) is the featured speaker.
University of Akron Student Union, 303 Carroll St. Akron, OH 44325

For the Ladies

Official Female Pride Party: August 13; 8:30 p.m. - 12 a.m.
Robin S performs at this rooftop party with three levels of DJs and go-go dancers.
Tickets $25 - $50
The Velvet Dog, W. 6th St., Cleveland, OH 44113

Womyn’s Dance Party: August 15; 8 pm. - 12 a.m.
It’s womyn-only at this DJ Zo Renee Lapin dance party presented by Oven Productions and the Lesbian-Feminist Community promoting a "Hot Time in Cleveland."
Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44115

Just Dance

Dancin’ - August 10, 2 p.m. - 12 a.m.
This 10-hour dance party presented by the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland celebrates its 30th anniversary of fundraising in support of HIV/AIDS services. Shake it on the Festival Village mall to the sounds of New York’s DJ Joe Gauthreaux and locals DJ Saint and DJ Glisten.
Donations requested
Mall C, Lakeside Avenue at West Mall Drive in Downtown Cleveland

Trans* Pride Party - August 10; 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Revelers from anywhere on the gender spectrum are invited to join this 21+ international Pride Party on this Warehouse District Rooftop. Pro tip: Watch your heels in that steep stairwell!
The Velvet Dog, W. 6th St. Cleveland, OH 44113

Hot in Cleveland Casino Party - August 10; 8 p.m. - 12 a.m.
Try your luck at this casino party located in the historic former Higbee's building in the heart of Public Square while Chippendale-style models and Vegas-style showgirls parade to the beat of DJs.
Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, 100 Public Sq. Cleveland, OH 44114

Mr & Miss GBO Pageant - August 10; 8 p.m. - 3 a.m
This “fierce & fabulous pageant and dance party” awards the best female impersonators and male entertainers judging in sportswear/swimwear, evening/formal wear, and talent.
Tickets $15 - 20
Prodigy Lounge, 3400 St. Clair Ave. Cleveland, Ohio 44114

For the Culture Vulture

Graffiti Heart Live Installation - August 10; 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Enjoy live art installations and participate in interactive paintings with artists Bob Peck, Garrett Weider, "Chader One", Dakarai Akil, Brent Krumrei, and Presser Merrick.
Mall C, Lakeside Avenue at West Mall Drive in Downtown Cleveland

Love Makes A Family - LGBT Family Photo Exhibit: Tuesday, August 12 - Friday, August 15, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
This all-ages exhibit features photos and interviews with LGBT families, aiming to challenge stereotypes and help dismantle homophobia. The traveling exhibit’s companion book won Best Book about Gay and Lesbian Issues by the Association of Independent Publishers.
Trinity Cathedral Gallery, 2230 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44115
Free and open to the public

To Be Takei - August 8 to 16, Fridays and Saturdays, Various times
Actor and activist George Takei is known for his portraying Sulu in Star Trek, but his most powerful role has been that of socio-political activism. This documentary follows Takei from a WWII Japanese-American internment camp, to acting Asian stereotypes in early roles, to outing his long-term gay relationship.
Admission $8.50, Seniors and children under 12, $7.50
The Nightlight, 30 N. High St. Akron, OH 44308

Should’ve Been A Cowboy

IGRA Rodeo - August 10 to 11, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The International Gay Rodeo Association hosts two days of traditional and nontraditional rodeo events that are open to all. They aim to break stereotypes while ropin’ and ridin’ (encouraging women to bull ride and men to barrel race, for instance) including a “Drag Race.”
Admission $15
800 North Ave. Tallmadge, OH 44278

Laughing Matters

Hal Sparks at Pickwick and Frolic - August 7-10; Various times
Second City alum and Queer As Folk icon Hal Sparks brings his wit and pop culture prowess to Cleveland’s vibrant East 4th Street. Pro tip: Grab a bite across the street at acclaimed eateries like Jonathon Sawyer's Greenhouse Tavern or Michael Symon’s Lola.
Tickets $18 - $23
2035 E. 4th St, Cleveland, OH 44115

Comedy Triathlon - August 11; 8 pm.
If comedy is more your athletic pace, watch two teams in an improv battle and vote for the winners from the audience.
Tickets $15-20
Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre in Idea Center, 1375 Euclid Ave.Cleveland, OH 44115

Sports without Balls LIVE special Gay Games Podcast - August 13; 6 p.m.
Stand-up comics and female athletes competing in the Gay Games. Join host Erin Foley’s weekly comedic sports enthusiast podcast.
2035 E. 4th St. Cleveland, OH 44115

Judah Leblang at The Masonic Center - August 13; 7:30 - 9 pm.
Cleveland-raised Judah Leblang is the guide for “One Man’s Journey through the Middle Ages,” in a humorous look at his Cleveland sports attachment and life as a single, gay man in Boston through missed connections, hearing impairment, and clothing malfunctions.
Tickets $12 - $15
The Masonic Center, 3615 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44115

Dig In

National Hamburger Festival - August 10; 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Get down with decadent burgers (including a “bobbing for burgers” competition) or healthy alternatives from over 25 vendors at lovely Lock 3 park along the Ohio and Erie Canal.
Admission $5, Children 8 and under are free
Lock 3 Park, 200 S Main St, Akron, OH 44308

For the Theater Brat

I Am What I Am: Gays, Lesbians and The American Musical - August 10; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Celebrate the contributions of gays and lesbians to the art of musical theater, from Cole Porter to Kinky Boots.
Tickets $28
Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave. Cleveland, OH

“My Mother’s Lesbian, Jewish, Wiccan Wedding” through August 17; Various Times
Co-writer David Hein’s autobiographical musical revue about coming of age as his mother leaves his father, moves to Canada, and marries a Wiccan therapist named Dawn.
Admission $33, Seniors (65+): $28, Students $10
Greystone Hall 103 S High St, Akron, OH 44308

Amazons and Their Men. Through August 30; Thursday - Saturday; 8 p.m.
Set against the backdrop of a 1930’s fascist film production, Jordon Harrison’s play explores the role of wartime art and propaganda. The dark comedy thriller finds “The Frau” cast as Amazon Queen alongside a Jewish Achilles and his Romanian gypsy companion Petroclus. Pro tip: make a point to stroll the boutiques and bars of the trendy Tremont neighborhood and grab a late slice at Edison’s.
Admission $15, Seniors $12, Students $10
The Liminis, 2438 Scranton Rd, Cleveland, OH 4113

Young Frankenstein. Through August 17; Various times
It’s alive! Join Dr. Frankenstein, Igor, Inga, and Elizabeth in their quest to create a monster in Mel Brooks’ hilarious horror parody.
Adult $29, Senior $26, Student $12, Under 12 $10
Beck Center for the Arts, 17801 Detroit Ave. Lakewood, Ohio 44107

Please Don't Stop the Music

An Evening with Lillian Baxter: August 10 -11; Various times
Hollywood’s favorite has-been, played by John Vessesls, sings the Great American Songbook in three inch heels. Pro tip: Sip a martini at the nearby Fairmount before the show at Nighttown’s storied jazz club.
Tickets $20
12387 Cedar Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106

White Party - August 11; 7 p.m. - 12 a.m.
Boy George headlines a night of electronic music along with Marc Vedo and Evan Evolution at this outdoor venue on the river. Sure the Cuyahoga caught on fire once, but this event promises to be white hot.
Tickets $40+
Jacobs Pavillion, 2014 Sycamore St, Cleveland, OH 44113

Tylan & Ingrid and The Laura Love Duo - August 13; 5:30 - 8 p.m.
This free concert in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park features an evening of Americana and roots music.
Howe Meadow, 4040 Riverview Rd. Peninsula, OH 44264

Gay Games 9 CHORAL EXTRAVAGANZA "The Big Cleveland Sing" - August 13; 7:30 p.m.
Over 400 singers, led by Dennis Coleman, will come together to perform after three days of intense rehearsal in a fun and inspiring concert.
State Theater, 1519 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44115

Indigo Girls at Flair Fest - August 14; 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
This free street fest in downtown Akron features food, entertainment, and a juried art show. The Indigo Girls headline and we’ll bet everyone in attendance will be “Closer to Fine” for it.
Festival free; Concert $10
Lock 3 Park, 200 S Main St, Akron, OH 44308

High Praise

Souls A’ Fire 4 - August 10; 1 p.m.
“The praise and worship will be off the hook” at this conference focusing on intersections of African-American culture, the church, and LGBTQ identity. This scholarship of the next generation of Black Queer Theology promises to be a time of retreat and inspiration.
Mt. Zion Congregational Church UCC, 10723 Magnolia Dr. Cleveland, OH 44106

Gay Gospel Worship Celebration - August 10, 12 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Hats are encouraged at this unapologetically inclusive celebration. “Fabulous Gospel music” led by Charlene Moore and a blessing of the athletes will be followed by “Dancin’” a few blocks away in Festival Village.
Amistad Chapel UCC, 700 Prospect Ave. Cleveland, Ohio 44115

Interfaith Service: August 11, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
This service aims to raise positive faith voices, create awareness, and promote global solidarity supporting human rights and the struggle against homophobia.
Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44115

Traveling Party

Take in the views from a cruise on Lake Erie or ride the rails of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for an "Ales on Rails" or "Gatsby Champagne Express" excursion. Hike off that hangover with the Cleveland Out and About four mile hike through downtown.