Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Latino Athletes Celebrated

Latino Athletes Celebrated
By Emmanuel Garcia
Copyright by The Windy City Times

In celebration of Gay Games VII, the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, the only Latino museum accredited by the American Association of Museums, joined with other Latin agencies to sponsor a welcome reception for Latino athletes at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Randolph. More than 200 attendees represented the distinct cities and countries at the Gay Games this year.

The Mexican Fine Arts Museum is a major sponsor of Gay Games VII. The museum, located in Pilsen, has contributed over $50,000 in resources. Jorge Valvivia, director of performing arts, explains, “It was the museum’s idea to do an event to welcome all the Latino gay lesbian, bisexual and transgendered athletes coming to Chicago ... Carlos Rortolero, the president of the museum, asked me to approach the Gay Games. We were the first museum on an international level to step up the plate and sign on and become an official sponsor.”

The museum was not alone in putting together two major events in recognition of the Latino presence in the cultural and sporting event.

Evette Cordona, board co-chair of Amigas Latinas, added, “This was the brainchild of the Mexican Fine Arts Museum. … They wanted to do a welcome for the Latino LGBT athletes and knew that in order to do it right they would have to partner with the Latino queer organizations. … We had a meeting with Amigas Latinas, Orgullo en Acción, ALMA, [ Casa Puertoriqueña ] , [ Tracy Baim from the Gay Games ] and, lo and behold, Pilsen Together Chamber of Commerce is sitting at the table with us, and has put together some of the beautiful T-shirts that celebrate the Latino involvement in the Gay Games. And for Pilsen Chamber of Commerce to be involved is unbelievable. “

The museum, located at 1852 W. 19th, also opened its doors to sponsor a farewell reception for the Latino/a athletes on July 21.

Valvivia said, “I think it’s obvious we aren’t trying to make any money off of this. The museum is the sponsor of the event. The museum is paying for everything; I mean, we found people to help us out, but aside from that we are not looking for any money. What we are looking to do is to send a clear message to the community that our doors are open to you. We welcome everyone. We support every person that makes up the Latino community, be it an immigrant, a straight man, a woman, gay or lesbian. Everyone is welcome at our museum.”

Abraham Nuñez, Costa Rica Team trainer, enthusiastically said, “It’s the first time that a team from Costa Rica has international representation within the gay community. We are here to demonstrate that the international gay community has an athletic side. We are proud [ that ] the gay community of Costa Rica is represented at this event.”


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