Pictured: The French delegation at the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne
In a letter last Friday, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault gave his support for Paris's bid to host the 2018 Gay Games. The letter—addressed to Paris 2018, the association organizing the bid—affirmed France's "commitment to equality on an international scale" and ended on an unequivocal note: "It is with great pleasure that I give you my support." Ayrault is the highest-ranking government official to publicly come out in favor of the French capital's candidacy.
The letter serves as the end of a year-long crescendo of government support aimed at legitimizing the bid. Since this summer, the bid has heard approval from Paris's openly-gay mayor, Bernard Delanoë; minister of women's rights and government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud Belckacem; and Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel (who is also sponsoring the bid). France's Green Party (EELVA) was the one that really got the spotlight shining, however, by praising in a release the Games' commitment to inclusion "no matter a person's ability, age, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, religious and political beliefs, ethnic origins or HIV-status."
Michel Geffroy, co-president of Paris 2018, said in an interview with TÊTU that Ayrault's support will give Paris's bid "more credibility" against competing cities. The logic is obvious: The mystique of the City of Light, combined with an overwhelming official support on the regional and national levels, will make Paris second to none when it comes time to make a selection—especially against Olympic-weary London.
The whole project, more than a just a push for the Gay Games, is an almost aggressively obvious sign that LGBT acceptance in France is accelerating faster and faster, and the exciting opportunities for gay tourists are hard to ignore. If you're an athlete looking to test your skills, or a tourist needing a change of pace from the usual museum-monument-café trio, Paris will be the place to be in 2018. It's about time to check out a new kind of event in a city that, though timeless, is making every effort to get with the queer times.
Curious about the Gay Games? Learn more with our coverage of the 2010 games in Cologne.