Rowing in Crystal Lake, photos by Amy Wooten
After a long, hard fight to hold a Gay Games regatta at Crystal Lake, rowers from all over the world were greeted with massive support in the far northwest suburb on July 16.
'It feels great to acually be here,' Qrew Chicago team captain Ron Snarski told Windy City Times. 'It's absolutely worth everything we had to go through.'
Gay Games overcame the final hurdle for usage of Crystal Lake's rowing facilities on April 11, when the Village of Lakewood voted 3-1 in favor of holding the event. Prior to the vote, Gay Games' simple request to hold a rowing competition caused much controversy in the area. Support for Gay Games was matched with protest and angry letters to the editor in local media. In March, Crystal Lake Park District's meeting hall was flooded with ultraconservative residents and suburbanites who engaged in lengthy emotional public debates with area Games supporters.
Several hundred spectators—ranging from about 200 flag-waving allies to curious residential families—packed Crystal Lake's beach, braving the sweltering heat to cheer on the Games athletes. The amount of supporters far outnumbered the handful of protesters ( who numbered about six or seven ) picketing across the street and handing out literature at the entrance.
'The protesters only encouraged us,' added Qrew Chicago member Rob Scott. 'The struggle against adversity only makes you stronger.'
Follow the links below for photo coverage of the rowing events.