Three Dollar Bill: The last post

The last post

to come Monday

I visited the overgrown graves of two gay men buried in "Paupers’ Field" in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-des-Nieges cemetery atop Mount Royal a few weekends ago and was moved to tears.

These two young men died when the Aquarius bathhouse on Crescent Street was firebombed in April 1975, and their corpses were found burnt by the second-floor fire exit. To this day, no one knows which anti-gay thugs firebombed the Aquarius, and the two dead men – whose bodies were never claimed by their families – were buried in anonymous graves in "Paupers’ Field."

Over 30 years later, gay life has improved drastically in this city, so much so the city is now regarded as one of the world’s great gay meccas.

But Montreal’s gay community was firebombed back into the Dark Ages last week when Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Nathalie Normandeau revealed the city’s 2006 Outgames lost a whopping $5.3-million, single-handedly destroying the sterling reputation of this city’s hard-working gay community.

"Montreal organizers took pleasure taking jabs at Chicago’s competing Gay Games and promised the Outgames would at least break even," says veteran gay-events producer Puelo Deir, co-founder of Divers/Cité, Montreal’s Gay Pride organization. "This taints every gay organization. Now when gay events need government support, they’ll say we can’t be trusted. Divers/Cité and [BBCM's] Black & Blue [Festival] – which are both well-managed – will have to live with this for years to come."

After smearing Montreal’s good name and stiffing suppliers, a year after the multi-million-dollar-losing FINA World Aquatics and 30 years after the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics ended up costing billions, Outgames co-chair Marielle Dupere arrogantly stated, "There are no regrets about the games. Montreal needs this kind of international event to position itself in the market."

Fuck you, we do. Montreal and its gay community were already world class before the carpetbagging Outgames came along, thank you very much.

A defiant Montreal Outgames director general Louise Roy pointed fingers at the entire Montreal Outgames board, telling the Journal de Montréal, "People are using a cannon to kill a fly."

Someone sell us some nukes.

But Deir says of Roy, who used to work at Divers/Cité, "I think Louise Roy should take the blame because she was the general director. With an event of this magnitude, a certain level of diplomacy and negotiations were expected and Louise Roy’s style is ‘Ça passe ou ça casse.’ Anyone who’s worked with Louise knows it’s Louise’s way or the highway. She makes Margaret Thatcher look like a wimp."

Deir predicted the Outgames were in deep trouble from the start "because they had to spend a lot of money around the world selling a new brand from scratch. Then last spring [Outgames co-prez] Mark Tewksbury appealed for more sponsors at the Montreal Board of Trade. The final proof was their Olympic Stadium fire sale [2-for-1 tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies]. They were lucky the Europeans were pissed off with the Bush administration’s foreign policy, otherwise it would have been a bigger fiasco."

About Tewksbury, who launched his motivational book Inside Out: Straight Talk From a Gay Jock during the Outgames, Deir says, "Had I been the poster boy for this event, I would be embarrassed. I think a lot of people in [that] organization were motivated by greed. Many got jobs and one launched a book."

A deeply concerned Tewksbury phoned me ("You’re the only media call I’ve returned") to say he could explain nothing on the record until after last night’s (Nov. 22) Montreal Outgames board meeting. So read TDB next week.

Meanwhile, Paris-based Roberto Mantaci, co-prez of the Federation of Gay Games, which split with Montreal over finances and sanctioned Chicago’s replacement 2006 Gay Games instead, tellingly told me, "With just two-and-a-half years to organize instead of the usual five, Chicago’s Gay Games VII marked a turning point for sounder financial planning for the Gay Games. We are pleased that Chicago is already working with the Cologne 2010 organizers to apply lessons learned to make Gay Games VIII a success."

About the competing 2009 Outgames in Copenhagen, Deir quips, "Montreal is so gruesomely overbudget that everything has been thrown into jeopardy. I can’t see the Outgames living beyond this. It makes most sense for the Gay Games and the Outgames to unite. The gay sports movement can’t work with them at odds."

Says Mantaci, "We continue to hope that the LGBT sports and culture community will become united in the future to carry on the Gay Games movement."

But Deir says, "Right now I think both the Outgames and Gay Games are pathetic. They both have work to do."

No doubt the world now understands that had Montreal hosted the 2006 Gay Games as originally planned, with an extra 10,000 athletes it clearly would have been the most successful Games ever.

But the FGG and Montreal 2006 organizers screwed each other and treated Montreal like a dirty whore.

In other words, 31 years after Montreal’s Aquarius bathhouse firebombing, we got fucked again – only this time we were betrayed by our own.

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