The 10-day event boasts more than 450 events across three areas: sports, culture and human rights. The first World OutGames were held in 2006 in Montreal. The 2017 edition is the fourth incarnation, following events in Copenhagen (2009) and Antwerp (2013).
LGBTQI athletes from more than 40 countries, many where homosexuality remains illegal and hidden, will head to Miami Beach for this year’s games. The World OutGames are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is no qualification for athletes, who are grouped together based on skill level. Sporting events at this year’s competition include: basketball, beach volleyball, soccer, swimming, track and field, and water polo. The games will also feature the World OutGames Miami Global Conference on Human Rights. According to the games’ site, “the conference will open minds with the most powerful global gathering of internationally respected human rights activists, researchers, legal scholars and organizations.”
Adidas is an official sponsor of this year’s event.
“Besides the fact that Adidas is a significant player in the sports industry, [the sponsorship] also brings the recognition of a global entity,” World OutGames CEO Ivan Cano said. “Sports are sports. They don’t discriminate.”
Zorros LGBT is a soccer team based in Mexico. Founded in August 2013, the club, which has more than 30 members playing across three levels — Zorros, Zorros Jr. and Club Zorros, promotes equality in soccer. Following a few bumps because of visa issues and cost, Zorros will participate in the 2017 World OutGames.
It will be their first competition outside of Mexico.
“It means that I get to fulfill a dream doing what I like,” goalie Fernando Rivera said. “We’ll be representing many people who perhaps for the moment cannot openly portray their homosexuality.”
Zorros hope their participation in the World OutGames will lead to other international opportunities, including the 2018 Gay Games in Paris, the 2019 Roma Eurogames and beyond.
“We worked so hard to get the boys to this event,” defender Nicholas said. “If we want to participate in these other events, we have to demonstrate we are up to international competition.”