There were more than 60,000 photographs taken last summer at Gay Games VII by several dozen professional photographers, all of whom donated their services to cover the event, held in Chicago July 15-22.
Those magical moments were trimmed down to 12,000 and were made available in 2006 as downloads on the Gay Games Web site.
Now, the best of the best are available in the new book Gay Games VII: Where the World Meets, an incredible 206-page retrospective on everything that was Gay Games VII, from the Opening Ceremony at Soldier Field to the Closing Ceremony at Wrigley Field.
And much more, too, including behind-the-scenes shots and extensive, never-before-seen coverage of the Night of 100 Champions event, also held at Soldier Field in April, 2006.
The pictorial book, with limited text, was written by Tracy Baim, Gay Games VII Co Vice-Chair and publisher of Windy City Times, which coordinated the Gay Games photo project. Windy City Media Group's art director Kirk Williamson designed the book.
I'm proud to say several of my pictures are included among the gems.
'I'm just really happy to have something in one place where people can continually reference,' said Baim, who, with Williamson, spent about two months this summer to complete the book.
'I think the diversity of images in sports [ is the best part of the book ] , and the fact that book really does represent all of the different types of people who were at the Games: gay, straight, women, men, people from all different countries and nationalities.'
The book showcases athletes and wannabes, the heat and humidity of the Opening Ceremony, the moments frozen in time at the Heartland Ice Rink in Lincolnwood where ice hockey was held, to the drama of flag football to, well, the drama queens from the Pink Flamingo.
Make room on the coffee table, Gay Games VII: Where the World Meets deserves a high profile spot for his magical memories of the greatest LGBT sporting event in Chicago history.
'I wanted to make sure to show that the Gay Games is not about one certain body type, or one certain sport. But rather, many different types of people, types of sports and cultural events, too,' Baim said. 'Our goal [ for the book ] was not about [ showcasing ] the winners.'
It is rather, the faces, the friendships, the people, the places, the medals, the memories, the drama, the daring, the athleticism and the abs of many.
Gay Games VII: Where the World Meets has three times as many photos as any past Gay Games book.
'The images speak for themselves,' Baim said, 'and amazingly, there were so many other good [ photos ] that didn't [ get used in the book ] .'
Amy Moseley photographed Matthew Cusick behind a rainbow flag at the Opening Ceremony—one of the most dramatic, lasting images from Chicago's Games.
'That was a sudden, quick shot,' Baim said. ' [ The photographer ] didn't have any time to plan it; she didn't know it was coming.
'That photo … it's sports; it's culture; it's ceremony; it's all in one.'
Steve Becker has several classic photos in the track and field and physique sections.
'I hope the book is a legacy of what Chicago contributed: that it was a fun event which, despite obstacles, such as time [ to prepare ] and heat [ in the first few days ] , it still was a great event, and the faces in this book show that the event truly was great fun.'
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has his own section within the book, including his Opening Ceremony remarks.
And the Closing Ceremony section features the words from Dylan Rice's song The Faces of Victory, which was performed with Chuck Panozzo of Styx and a group of Chicago rockers.
'Those [ lyrics ] represent what the Gay Games book really is,' Baim said. 'It's not just the victory with a gold medal, but rather, a victory of coming together, be it from South Africa or the South Side of Chicago.'
All sports are represented in the book except a few running events.
'All proceeds from the sale [ of the book ] will go to the important work of the Federation of Gay Games,' Baim said.
The book has an overview of the past six Gay Games, including images of the first event in 1982 with co-founder Dr. Tom Waddell. There also are special photos taken by internationally renowned photographer Victor Skrebneski of amateur and professional Gay Games athletes, including Esera Tuaolo and Leigh-Ann Naidoo.
The Gay Games decided to go with an online publishing format to allow for more creativity and flexibility—and the book ( $49 plus shipping, or $19 as a download ) is available exclusively at www.lulu.com .