Joining the ranks of Australia House and USA House at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics will be PRIDE House, the first space set up specifically for gay and lesbian athletes at an Olympic event.

Organised by the GayWhistler company, the group which oversees the annual Winter Pride Festival in Whistler Canada, PRIDE House will provide a meeting space for gay and lesbian athletes from around the world and it is hoped may play a part in breaking down stigma in the sporting world.

The Mission of PRIDE House is to provide an open and welcoming venue for the LGBT community and their allies to celebrate together diversity and inclusiveness through sport, and to educate and make aware that LGBT people are still discriminated against and in some cases persecuted for being, or being assumed to be a homosexual, a spokesman for GayWhistler said.

Our primary objective is to have fun, celebrate our authentic selves, embrace diversity and be inclusive. To educate and evoke change in homophobia in the sports culture.

PRIDE House aims to provide those citizens whose human rights are being denied a welcoming space to go to and find likeminded people, to find support and encouragements that is so valuable. How incredible is it going to be to help just one athlete, coach, friend or family find the support network they need.

The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association have put their support behind the initiative and hope to see it become a regular part of all Oylmpic events.

I’m guessing that because stigma still exists it will be a modest turnout. But the fact that it exists is the story. Three Oylmpics from now, who knows what Pride House will look like?, GLISA’s North American President Greg Larocque told the New York Times.

The Vancouver Winter Olympics will run from February 12-28 next year, followed by the Winter Paralympics from March 12-21. PRIDE House will open on February 8 and remain open over both events until March 21.

For those interested in travelling over to the event, GayWhistler will start promoting special packages for travellers over the coming months.

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