First gay PRIDE House during 2010 Games 

Gay and lesbian athletes will have a place to call "home" during the 2010 Olympic Games at the first ever PRIDE House.

The lounge, which will be set up at the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, has been organized by Dean Nelson, CEO of GayWhistler, which produces the resort's annual gay ski week.

Not only is it meant to be a fun gathering place for gay athletes, coaches, family and fans, said Nelson, PRIDE House is also a way to show people from other countries how Canada embraces gay rights.

"There are still 70 other countries where it's illegal and it's very scary to be gay," said Nelson.

"If we're able to make a change... make a difference... that would be amazing."

Greg Larocque, spokesperson for Gay and Lesbian Sport Association (GLISA), said he is proud that the first ever PRIDE House is in Canada.

"I don't think it's a political statement," he said. "I think it's a statement of human rights."

He hopes that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) takes the lead and mandates that a PRIDE House needs to be a component of every future Games.

He also praises the Pan Pacific for its decision to host PRIDE House.

Dave Wilkin, director of operations for the Pan Pacific Whistler, said there had been other parties interested in renting the space, which can accommodate up to 75 people.

In the end the hotel decided to partner with GayWhistler not only because it's an exciting opportunity but also because the organization was looking to rent the space over a longer period of time.

"We've always been open to diversity," said Wilkin. "I can't wait to see what Dean (Nelson) does with it."

PRIDE House will be open from Feb. 8 to March 24, spanning three different events - the Olympics, WinterPRIDE (Whistler's annual gay ski week), and the Paralympic Games.

Nelson said they have also managed to secure a handful of rooms at the Pan Pacific. Those might be used to host gay or lesbian celebrities.

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