Here’s what some of the athletes from Team Nashville had to say about participating in the Gay Games VII.

Sam Felker:

Where do I start...I will always have a lasting memory of Chicago as a welcoming and very gay-friendly place. Everywhere we went people greeted us with smiles and encouragement. On the trains and on the street everyone welcomed the athletes and participants of the Games. Then Mayor Richard Daley gave an impassioned speech at the opening about how Chicago is a diverse city that welcomes everyone, regardless of race, nationality or sexual orientation. He even made a pitch for domestic partnership benefits (which are now offered to Chicago city employees) and same-sex marriage! What a departure from the regressive politics, both Democratic and Republican, in Tennessee! How refreshing to visit an American city where the gay and lesbian community is not just tolerated, but embraced.

As we marched from the holding area, a large assembly of Team Chicago yelled out a huge cheer for Team Nashville and the other 30 or so athletes from around Tennessee.

Standing with Team Nashville in the dark stadium out on Soldier Field holding up our blue lights along with all of the thousands of other athletes with colored lights--- together creating a huge rainbow flag. What a sign of unity!

Jumping into the icy waters of Lake Michigan at 6 a.m. to begin my triathlon, biking up Lakeshore Drive with the sun rising over the sailboats on Lake Michigan, wrecking my bike but continuing on, finishing the race by running the 5k in the sweltering heat. Never a dull moment!

Watching Keith make his incredible throw in the javelin and bring home the gold medal!

Meeting up with friends we had made in previous Gay Games in Amsterdam and Sydney.

Enjoying the party-like atmosphere in Boys Town--Halstead where athletes strolled the streets with their recently won medals, laughter and music poured out of the packed bars, and everyone was having a great time at the Games.

Getting up early to watch Stan Schklar run the 5K down at the Chicago waterfront. Stan had a great race and would have won a medal in the "biggest smile" category!

Watching speedster Patrick Cooper run the 5k with an impressive time of 17:10, and picking up a silver medal in his age group.

Watching the West Hollywood water polo match against cross-state rival Team San Francisco. I didn't know a bunch of gay guys could have so much fun dunking each other in a pool!

Watching Keith win the bronze medal in the shot put against stiff competition in his age group.

Attending the closing ceremony in Soldier Field with thousands of athletes and participants, hearing Cindy Lauper sing "True Colors", hearing the closing addresses by Billy Bean and Mayor Daley, seeing the Dallas Coy boys dance, and hearing the Vice-Mayor of Cologne welcome us there for the next Gay Games in 2010. Something to look forward to! 

I could go on and on...

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