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Olympic Pride House: Government throws a party for the gays … …and the Olympic president lets the crowd know he’s one of us

Friday appeared to be unofficial “throw a party for the gays day” here at the Olympics in Vancouver. Pride House organizers took leave of their posts for the night and went out to celebrate at not one, but two parties for the gay community. The main event was an invitation-only party at B.C. Canada House, celebrating (to quote the invitation) “the vibrancy of B.C.’s diverse LGBT community.”

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23rd February 2010 17:17

stephenbarris | ILGA North America

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According to amateur Olympic historian Charley Walters of Olympics or Bust, this one goes down in history as the first time a government has thrown an Olympic party for the gay community.

The speaker was none other than Philip Steenkamp, president and CEO of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic games.
Steenkamp began his remarks by thanking his partner, saying, “He is a true Olympic widow. I really want to thank him for all the support that he’s given me.”

He then informed the crowd, “If you go down to the harbor now, you will see that the Olympic rings are glowing a hot pink.”
Asked later why he felt it was important to hold a party specially for the LGBT community, he replied:
“We’re wanting to showcase Vancouver and British Columbia and Canada, and the LGBT community’s a vibrant part of our society here. Really we want to celebrate our diversity and the tolerance of our culture and also showcase ourselves to the world. There’s also kind of a business imperative here. Gay tourism is worth 60 billion dollars in the U.S., so there’s some good business networking that can occur. But aside from that, it’s just a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate those Canadian values of tolerance and diversity and what creates such strength in our culture here.”

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