At a nightclub called The Quest, formerly a Montgomery Wards located at a strip mall at Arlington and Waterloo roads, two men in their early 20s were perhaps jiggling on the dance floor, sipping a drink … likely having fun, and met for the first time.
“Quest was THE place then; it had three dance floors, and was pretty cool,” says Chris Hawks. The other gentleman that evening in 1987 was David Young, who’s sitting across the table from Hawks at a cafe.
“This is our 27th year together, and we’re coming up on a year since we were married last fall in New York,” says Hawks. Glancing at his husband, Hawks adds, “He’s kind of shy and doesn’t like doing interviews.”
The two men, both tall and lean, will embark on another journey together when they participate in Gay Games 9, which will take place Aug. 9 through16 in the Akron-Cleveland area and is expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors from around the globe.
More specifically, they will compete together as team cyclists at the Team Time Trial (TTT) Aug. 14 at Rocky River Metroparks. Other cycling events include Circuit Road Race, Mountain Biking and Individual Time Trial (ITT).
Both men are Akron-area natives. Hawks grew up in Barberton and Young in Cuyahoga Falls.
Neither Hawks nor Young has ever been an athlete at or a visitor to Gay Games, which began in 1982 and staged every four years.
The 2010 games were held in Cologne, Germany, and the 2018 games are scheduled to take place in Paris, which means Northeast Ohio successfully competes internationally when it comes to bringing the world to its doorstep.
“I guess I wanted to be a part of something bigger, something that was international … exciting,” Hawks says. “And I think it shows we’re not just a fly-over zone anymore. We’re becoming a nationally recognized area, not just the Rust Belt. We’ve got science, polymers, medicine, all sorts of things …”
Both men have been cycling for about 10 years and ride for 15 to 20 miles a stretch about three times during the week in the evening, and more on weekends in preparation for the Games.
They will participate in the Games’ time trials, where organizers suggest a minimum of 15 miles, and Hawks says cyclists have the option to commit to ride so many miles or do their “personal best.”
A couple years back, Hawks, who’s 50, had heart valve surgery, which ultimately changed his and Young’s outlook on some things.
“I re-imagined my life in a different way,” Hawks recalls. “The surgery made me think about health and fitness, things you took for granted. We work out three to four times a week in our home gym and try to eat healthy.”
The couple says they will enjoy the sense of community the Gay Games will bring to the area, and hope that the Games will open people’s minds and hearts.
“We are participating in something that will bring the community together, making a statement that gay people live in the Midwest,” Hawks says. “We are your friends and neighbors and part of the fabric of your community.”
Visit www.gg9cle.com for more information about Gay Games 9.