Last month, I proudly powered my body over the finish line to win the gold medal for the sprint triathlon at the international Gay Games in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. It was a highlight of my life to date and the culmination of two years of intensive preparation. A lifelong athlete, I had trained long and hard, entered races and learned how to become faster, stronger, better and my hard work paid off. Along with my sprint gold, I placed second in my age group for the 10K road race and first in my age group in a cycling event.
But as I reveled in my accomplishments and cheered on my fellow athletes, one aspect gave me great pause: The fact that the Gay Games went largely ignored by national media outlets, making it far less likely that their inspiration would be felt where it was needed most.
The largest sporting event specifically for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) individuals, this year's Gay Games involved some 8,000 athletes -- almost four times the number who competed at the Sochi Olympics in Russia -- and attracted some 20,000 spectators. There was a surprise welcome video at the opening ceremonies, from President Obama, who urged all of us athletes to, "compete, celebrate and inspire others," acknowledging that it takes "courage, even to defiance, to 'come out.'" The President's words echoed through the crowded Cleveland Cavaliers stadium after thousands of participants paraded onto the court and then joined many more spectators in the stands. "No matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from or who you love, you can make it if you try."
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