Connecting gay and lesbian seniors from all over the province is a goal of the first openly gay BC Seniors Games team, as its members get set to compete this August in the West Kootenay.
“In any community, gay seniors are not on the radar,” said Alexandra Henriques, the community developer for Qmunity’s Generations program.
The resource centre, located in Vancouver, offers support to gay and lesbian people not only on the Lower Mainland, but also all over the province.
Henriques said pulling a team together for the games was a “perfect fit” in terms of province-wide advocacy.
“I think it’s a win-win for everyone to have more awareness about the BC Seniors Games and on the other hand have more visibility for the gay community as well.”
Henriques began speaking with seniors in her community that had participated individually, but never as a team.
“We thought we’d try to bring more awareness,” she said.
Although each senior will participate in their own zone and sport, Henriques believes this may be advantageous because the teammates will be spread over Castlegar, Nelson and Trail and will create awareness in all three cities.
“It won’t be a team in the sense that we’ll be competing together in anything, it’ll be a team in the sense that we’ll be representing the queer community.”
So far, the team members are dabbling in a number of sports.
“There’s people interested in track and field events, swimming, golf and we also had a couple people just wanting to participate as a supporter.”
Next, through a series of meetings, the team will decide how they want to represent themselves, whether it’s through team shirts or maybe a banner.
“We have to decide what the team would like as a team identity.”
Henriques hopes other gay seniors participating in the games will consider joining the team as well.
“We weren’t trying to be just for the Lower Mainland … we’re trying to do outreach throughout the whole province and have anyone else that would like to join us for the LGBT team,” she said.
The team will soon be looking into connecting with the West Kootenay’s gay community to set up billeting for the games. She noted they’re a small team this year so it wouldn’t be too many people, but they’re hoping to grow each year.
Next year’s BC Seniors Games will take place in Burnaby, so Henriques noted they will be offering billets next year.
For more information on joining the team, contact Henriques at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-684-8449.