Gay Games Organizers Send Letter of Assurance After Hate Crimes

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CLEVELAND-- In less than a year, thousands of athletes from around the world will be racing to Northeast Ohio to participate in the Gay Games.

Some people wonder whether several recent incidents, including two apparent hate crimes, will discourage them from coming.

11,000 athletes, 35 sporting and cultural events, and millions of dollars are expected to pour into Northeast Ohio's economy when the 2014 International Gay Games come to Cleveland and Akron next August.

"Whether you're straight or gay, that's something that's instinctive in people that live here. We're gonna show people a good time," said Tom Nobbe, executive director of Gay Games 9.

Nobbe sent out a letter Friday, telling recent supporters that recent headlines prompted him to assure them that Cleveland is no more dangerous than other cities.

"We immediately began talking with the law enforcement agencies around the region. We're already talking to them about putting together a plan for the games next year," he said.

"Every news media from Europe to the United States, it's now nationwide. It's now worldwide," said Ric Scardino.

Scardino is one of several patrons who had rocks and gay slurs thrown at them by teens last Friday, while sitting on the patio of Cocktails, a gay bar on Cleveland's west side.

The week before, a bar patron was brutally attacked outside, while his young attackers also yelled slurs.

This week, the city sent the bar a warning letter about excessive calls to 911 in the past year. The letter has since been rescinded.

"This happens in major cities all over the world. It's how you respond to those incidents," Nobbe said.

Organizers said they expect Northeast Ohioans to welcome the Gay Games.

We asked some people whether they feel the city is gay-friendly.

"I have gay friends. I have never been at a place with my friends that are gay where we've had any issues," said Cleveland resident, Jen Eden.

"Like every place, there's going to be gay-friendlier places and not so gay-friendly places," said Mark Paschke.

"I think it depends on where you go in Cleveland," said Cleveland resident, Cierra Slone.

"I know people that are gay and it's a good place for them to live," said Sheldon Myeroff.

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