Making a Splash at the Gay Games

7.30.2006

By Seth Harrington

Pink Flamingo

We had five minutes to go. The diving exhibition had just finished. A cute diver in a red Speedo smiled at me as he walked by. Whether it was because he was friendly or he couldn't believe my outfit I'll never know because then another guy came over and started rubbing sesame oil on my skin in between my suspenders. I reached into my only article of clothing, black pleather hot shorts, and readjusted. I made sure to tuck the tip down just like our choreographer said and then marveled one last time at the irony of my situation as a musical theater guy turned jock turned musical theater guy. Then we were on. I marched onto the pool deck as the opening strains of 'Big Spender' blared out of the sound system.

We were representing West Hollywood in the Pink Flamingos, the competition held at the end of each swim meet. It's a sort of pageant that combines elements of dance, drag, and synchronized swimming. And, of course, fabulous outfits.

For even as the eight of us'in our sexy lederhosen'finished our Fosse routine, the real stars of the shows, the 'aqua-genarians,' came out dressed in aged showgirl drag. They began their number to 'The Cellblock Tango' from Chicago. Sure enough, when they saw that the eight of us preferred each others' company, they promptly disposed of us by bumping us into the pool. Then, in waves, they too dived in the water. Reunited in 'death' we all splashed around to the finale. The crowd went wild!

The Second City

Chicago. It was my kind of town. The love affair began the moment I arrived in The Loop. The first thing that struck me was the greenery. There were parks everywhere'not just tennis courts and country clubs like Los Angeles'but real parks with ample areas of grass to play soccer on or to fly kites.

The museums provided highbrow diversion during the days, and Boystown provided lowbrow diversion at night. Best of all, drinks and cover prices were much more affordable than either Los Angeles or New York and the interiors of the bars were creative and inviting. So were the guys.

More than any other factor, it was the people of the city that seduced me. Mayor Daley said it at the opening ceremonies: 'Gay and lesbian people are welcome in Chicago.' While the profusion of rainbow flags over awnings of restaurants prompted one of my friends to cynically quip, 'We support gay money, I mean marriage,' you could not escape the good nature of the people. From the firefighter (hot) who gave me a ride to the track and field stadium to the 4-year-old girl who had an imaginary tea party with me on the subway, Chicagoans were approachable and helpful. So thank you, Windy City, for one spectacular week.

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