Trans coach finds acceptance in small Rhode Island town

 

Stephen Alexander was a typical boy. He loved Transformers and Gobots (but did not find out until later that they were a product of Hasbro in Providence, R.I., just a few miles from his home in Chepachet). He spent hours with the neighborhood kids, playing basketball, baseball and Wiffle ball. “I never wanted to go home,” he recalls.

There was one problem: His parents treated him like a girl. That’s what they saw when they looked at his genitals.

And that’s why Alexander competed on girls teams at Ponaganset High School. He was a superb athlete — one of the best in the school’s history, male or female. He scored more than 1,000 points for the Chieftains’ girls basketball team, winning four consecutive state championships and earning All-State first team honors. He was offered a full scholarship for the basketball team at Stonehill College, a Division II Jesuit school in Massachusetts. But he gave it up, because being in the women’s locker room finally became too unbearable.

Majoring in religious studies, psychology and philosophy, Alexander sought to discover who he really was. His journey of self-discovery took him about as far away from Rhode Island as he could go: Tasmania. There he studied Buddhism. Studying further, through a Semester at Sea program, he finally understood himself as a transgender man.

“I tell people I’ve crossed the equator, the prime meridian and the gender spectrum,” he quips. He says the process took him from gender identity disorder, to gender identity difference, and finally to gender identity feelings.

He returned to his home town, and finally came out to his parents. But Chepachet is a very small place. Soon, he headed to the biggest city in the U.S.: New York.

Everyone knew him in Chepachet. In NYC, nobody did. That’s where he began his career as a teacher. It’s also where he had gender reassignment surgery. His parents, who had taken their own path to understanding their son, were there. Doctors told them that most parents seldom are.

But the pull of home was strong. His sister has two children, and Alexander wanted to watch them grow up. He returned to Rhode Island, and tried to figure out what to do next.

A female friend told him the boys middle school soccer team needed a coach. Alexander stepped in. Soon he was coaching their basketball and baseball teams. Tennis and volleyball followed. He coached boys and girls teams. He loved what he was doing. There were challenges — managing young adolescents is not easy, and their parents can be a handful, too — but that’s part of the joy of coaching.

Though he was in a small town, and most people there had known him as a champion female athlete, he says that being a trans man was never an issue. No one said anything to his face; no one complained to the school board. There may have been whispers, he admits, and perhaps one or two youngsters did not try out for his teams because of the coach. But if that happened, he says, “I never heard about it.”

He worked with coaches he’d gone to school with. He coached boys and girls whose parents he’d played sports with, or been taught by. Some of those adults still call him by the name they remember. They try to call him “Stephen,” but old habits die hard.

Perhaps they’re reminded by the banner hanging in the Ponaganset High School gym. It honors the few players who scored more than 1,000 points in their basketball careers. Alexander’s is there, with his girl’s name. There is one place his name does not appear: the Ponaganset Athletic Hall of Fame. His sister nominated him, but he has not been selected.

Alexander was surprised … but then again, he wasn’t. What people say behind closed doors is not always what they say to his face.

Alexander has a lot to say. He’s created a website called Transition Games (www.transitiongames.com), in part to highlight his public speaking career. “Stephen’s story brought me to tears, and to a new understanding of diversity in sports,” praises a college student who heard him talk.

“It’s so important to have conversations about transforming sports,” Alexander says. “We need to help kids recognize early what happens when we separate the sexes. There’s this notion that boys are better, faster and stronger than girls. Sports is really about finding out who you are, whoever you are, then working together to heighten competitiveness and honor your opponents. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

And Stephen Alexander — a trans man, and boys and girls sports coach in rural Rhode Island — is doing it.

— Dan Woog

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Nothing ‘lax’ about this out athlete

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Taylor Tvedt

When Taylor Tvedt made the “no-brainer” decision to come out as a high school sophomore in the Twin Cities suburb of Apple Valley, the response was largely positive. Her “progressive” parents were supportive; her friends, and lacrosse and ice hockey teammates, were “awesome.”

Tvedt was relieved. She could be herself … even in the locker room, where she’d worried about what everyone might think.

The only ones who seemed to have an issue were parents of teammates. There was gossip in the stands. One mother did not want Tvedt driving her daughter to practice. Taylor’s mother fought those battles. By senior year, Tvedt says proudly, “No one messed with my mom.”

When Lehigh University recruited her for lacrosse, Tcedt was “pretty sure they knew” her sexual orientation. Visiting the Division I school, she asked about the gay scene. Her tour guide was surprised, but said, “I’m sure you’ll be happy here.”

In her first week as a Mountain Hawk, her coaches met separately with all the new players. They’d never had an openly gay athlete before. Their main concern, Tvedt says, was what they should be saying, and how to say it. Her sexuality was never an issue.

Though most of her teammates come from similar Northeastern U.S. backgrounds, Tvedt says they are accepting of each other’s “little differences.” The women are best friends. They live near each other, and share a tight team culture. “We’re all open-minded, and willing to have conversations about anything,” she notes. “Our coach is good at recognizing that we have personalities beyond our lacrosse skills.”

of1128162Tvedt says that while her sexuality “does not make me the athlete I am,” she also refuses to live a “don’t ask, don’t tell” life. The more people talk, the more they learn about her. And, just as crucially, the more other LGBT athletes will be empowered to come out themselves.

Lehigh had an Athlete Ally chapter. The organization works to end homophobia and transphobia in sports, and educates teams and coaches to stand up against anti-LGBT discrimination.

Last spring, the college’s director of athletic leadership development asked Tvedt to take on an Athlete Ally leadership role. Her goal is to provide awareness and engagement opportunities, and challenge people beyond her own team to have “important dialogues.”

This fall, Tvedt designed and distributed a culture survey to all Lehigh athletes. A sociology major, she knows the importance of data in making a case for change.

She received 410 responses — a very high, 60-percent response rate. Only 3 percent of those athletes identified themselves as “non-heterosexual.”

The surveys showed that male Lehigh athletes are much less likely than their female counterparts to take a “very” or “somewhat” accepting view of LGBT athletes. The open-ended questions elicited a few “jerk” responses from men, she adds.

Athlete Ally sponsored a “lunch and learn” session about homophobia. Thirty-four athletes came. All were women. Tvedt was disappointed. “I’ve got plenty of male athlete friends,” she notes.

At the meeting, she spoke about the importance of being an ally. So far, six teams have signed the Athlete Ally pledge.

Armed with data, she approached Lehigh administrators. She pointed out gaps in the schools written inclusion policies, especially compared with similar institutions. Their response — that it’s “just one of many issues” — surprised her. It also impelled her to keep pushing on.

As she works with Athlete Ally, Tvedt realizes that she wants to continue her efforts after graduation this spring. The connections she’s made — and her awareness of the power of allies — drive her forward.

“I want to leave Lehigh with a legacy,” she says. “And not only on the field. I want to build something that is lasting, and impactful.”

She’s already done that. In advance of National Coming Out Day last October, Lehigh’s sports communications office interviewed Taylor. The resulting story — focusing on her Athlete Ally efforts, but also highlighting her sexual orientation — was wide-ranging, positive and powerful. It included insights from teammate Lauren Beausoleil: “When individuals feel they cannot be themselves, they can start to doubt who they are and feel distant from others. Open communication and having teammates that are both accepting and approachable is one of the greatest things a program can provide.”

To Taylor’s surprise, the story was distributed widely. Thanks to Lehigh’s online presence, and social media, it went far beyond the Pennsylvania campus. It was even included in Lehigh’s football program. As a result, Tvedt has heard from LGBT athletes and allies all over the country.

Lehigh still has a way to go on LGBT issues. Every institution does. But, Tvedt says, “People need to see what’s going on here. We’re doing some good things.”

So is she.

— Dan Woog

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Olympian effort

Fair_Play_460x470_courtesy_Akashic_BooksAs we begin the Rio Games, we consider the progress of gays in sports

Conventional wisdom says that the locker room is the last closet. The sports world is seen as unwelcoming, anti-gay, left behind in a pathetic time warp while the rest of America hurtles forward, embracing LGBT issues, rights and people.

Conventional wisdom, says Cyd Zeigler, is wrong.

That’s the driving force behind his new book, Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes are Claiming Their Rightful Place in Sports. A cofounder of Outsports — since 1999, the go-to website for news, photos and resources about gay athletics — Ziegler has written more coming-out stories than any American journalist.

For nearly two decades, Zeigler has chronicled the journeys of NBA and NFL players; college and high school athletes, and coaches, umpires, sportswriters. After hundreds of interviews and follow-ups, he’s convinced that the real story is just how accepting teammates, fans and even opponents are when a gay sports figure comes out.

In fact, Zeigler says, he cannot recall one instance in which negative reactions outweighed the positive ones.

Want proof? In the two years he spent writing Fair Play, Zeigler kept adding new stories and experiences. As soon as one edit was done, another famous athlete came out, another team or league took a big step forward, or another ally stood up for LGBT rights. Finally, Zeigler said, “Stop! Let’s print it!”

The book’s 12 chapters cover a wide swath of gay sports issues. Headings include “Young Athletes Are Why There Will Never Be a ‘Gay Jackie Robinson,’” “Straight Guys Look Too” and “Fallon Fox Is the Bravest Athlete in History.”

The first chapter is “John Amaechi and Tim Hardaway’s ‘Tipping Point’ Moment.” It’s about the NBA player’s coming-out experiences — specifically, what happened afterward. Former All-Star Tim Hardaway told a Miami radio audience that he “hated” gay people. Furthermore, he said, they should not be part of the locker room.

Reaction was swift — and anti-Hardaway. Zeigler calls it “the day the homophobes lost the culture war in sports.”

The American culture war continues, of course. It plays out in politics, most recently in North Carolina where legislators hastily passed a “bathroom bill” to address a non-existent problem with trans people.

michaelsam1In sports, Zeigler calls Michael Sam’s experience “chilling.” After coming out in college — and earning awards for his play — the University of Missouri football star was unable to catch on with any NFL team.

In a chapter titled “The Big Lie of the Big Five,” Zeigler tackles the prevailing belief of executives of the major sports leagues that any professional athlete who came out would create an unwelcome, unacceptable “distraction.”

“I’ve been to the Super Bowl,” Zeigler writes. “It’s a distracting mess. The media is ever-present. The host city is overrun with fans, celebrities, major corporations, and parties, from dawn to dusk. If a team’s front office cannot handle the attention a gay athlete might bring, it is woefully ill-equipped to win a world championship.”

Zeigler makes clear that sports owners and executives are out of step with the times. He counters every Michael Sam-non-signing story with many more counterintuitive ones. (Counterintuitive, that is, unless you’ve been paying attention — as he has — to what’s really going on in the sports world.)

michaelirvin

ZIegler’s Out magazine interview with former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin is considered a watershed in paving the way for LGBT understanding in mainstream team sports.

Zeigler’s favorite story might be retired Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin’s. The NFL Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion came out as the brother of a transgender person or drag queen (he’s not sure). He supported same-sex marriage, and said he’d have no problem with a gay teammate.

Then — as part of Zeigler’s interview for a cover story with Out magazine — he enthusiastically posed shirtless.

Like the Amaechi and Hardaway moment, Zeigler calls the Irvin story a “game-changer.” So was a follow-up interview with the NFL Network, when Irvin connected his support for LGBT issues with his own experiences as an African American. “Equality for all means equality for all,” he said simply.

Zeigler admits that at times he himself has fallen into the trap of putting most athletes in boxes where they don’t belong. Writing Fair Play has helped him realize that much of the sports world is further along than many people realize.

He hopes it will reach a wide audience. Review copies were sent to mainstream media. They’ve been interested in it — further evidence that sportswriters also understand the importance of, and advances sweeping through, the LGBT sports world.

Meanwhile, the coming-out stories keep coming. Zeigler proudly recounts the story of a young athlete who read Fair Play the moment it appeared on Kindle. He showed it to his parents, to help them understand his experiences.

“I wish more people could see what I see,” Zeigler says. “There is nothing more powerful — for an athlete or teammates — than coming out.”

And no one has seen or described more great coming out stories than Cyd Zeigler.

—Dan Woog

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2016.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Go! Athletes acquire new mentorship

GoGrowing up in suburban Chicago, Chris Mosier had no FTM athletic role models. There were none at Northern Michigan University either, where, among many other activities, Mosier edited the school paper, performed as the Wildcat Willie mascot, led a service organization and played intramural sports.

But very quietly, Mosier has become the first openly trans man on a U.S. men’s national team (triathlon). His event — the run-cycle-run sprint duathlon — takes an enormous amount of time and energy.

His full-time job is assistant director of housing at a New York City-area university. But Mosier still manages to serve as executive director of GO! Athletes, a national LGBT student-athlete network. It’s an unpaid post, but he devotes many hours a week to it.

Now he’s taken on another task. GO! Athletes is rolling out a new and novel mentorship program. And Mosier is in charge.

The initiative was two years in the making. The rising number of openly gay athletes has had a snowball effect. More and more competitors (and coaches) are also considering coming out.

When an athlete comes out — particularly a big name — he or she is inundated with emails, texts and letters. There are plenty of congratulations … and lots of requests for advice.

“There’s a lot of informal mentorship going on,” Mosier notes. “We want to provide more structure and guidance to the process. And we want to make sure people can provide mentorship in manageable ways.”

The aim is to connect LGBT athletes (and coaches) with others — ideally, in their own sport or geographic area, and similar sexual, gender, racial and ethnic identity  — who can help them deal with issues of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The need is profound. According to a January 2014 report by MENTOR, 89 percent of at-risk LGBT youth have never had a formal mentor — and 37 percent have never had any mentor at all. The figures are undoubtedly higher for LGBT athletes, because traditionally boys and girls in sports have had fewer role models than those in other activities. Thus, they are less likely to reach out for help — and less likely to have others reach out to them.

A 2012 report by Campus Pride found that one in four LGBT student-athletes in college are “pressured to be silent about their sexual identity among teammates, coaches and other athletes.” They are three times as likely to experience harassment, compared to non-athlete peers. The report also found that they are unlikely to believe their administration or athletic department would support them.

Last year, GO! Athletes secured a grant to develop a pilot mentorship program, in the Delaware Valley. This year, the LGBT Sports Coalition gave its own funds, to build on those first steps.

GO! Athletes examined a variety of mentorship program, in and outside the gay community. They hired a consultant who had done mentorship work at the University of Pennsylvania.

They had to answer plenty of questions: Who would be mentored? How would mentors be trained? How would mentors and mentees be matched, and communicate? How would confidentiality be assured? Legal issues? How would the program be assessed?

It was a time-consuming process, particularly for an all-volunteer group. Finally, though, the mentorship program is a reality. GO! Athletes is publicizing it through social media, and with outreach to athletic directors and athletic conferences, and through LGBT centers on college campuses.

Mentors are in the process of being trained. They’re learning how to ask open-ended questions. How to assess the situation at a school or campus that may be very different from their own. And how not to force any one particular outcome.

“The intention is not to get everyone to be out,” Mosier notes. “It’s just to talk through any situation a [protege] may be facing, with someone who understands what they’re going through. And to provide options.”

There is no age limit, though most proteges are in high school or college. Mentors and proteges attending the annual LGBT Sports Coalition summit in Portland, Oregon each June will have the opportunity to meet face to face – if they haven’t already – at a GO! Athletes-sponsored reception.

Mentor applications have poured in from around the country. If there’s one common thread among the men and women hoping to become mentors, Mosier says, it’s this: “I wish I’d had a mentor. That would have been a game-changer for me.”

Chris Mosier knows that feeling well from his own life. Which is why, today, he’s mentoring GO! Athletes’ very remarkable arena of mentors.

To learn more about the mentorship program, and apply to be a mentor or protege, click on www.goathletes.org/mentorship.

This week, in our print edition, we list some notable 2015 developments in the culture, including sports. Look for it online and in racks Friday.

— Dan Woog

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Out coach Chris Burns blazes a new path

ChrisBurnsGrowing up in Merrimack, N.H., Chris Burns’ life revolved around basketball. He’d played it since age 6, and loved the team camaraderie, individuality, creativity and freedom of the sport. But then he was cut from his middle school team.

Just 4-feet-11-inches in ninth grade, he scrapped his way onto the freshman squad. Then he grew “like a foot” over the summer. “Everything came together for me,” he recalls.

He made the Providence College team, then transferred to and played at nearby Bryant University. After graduation Burns played for Albany of the Continental Basketball Association, then semi-pro around the Northeast.

When his playing days were over, he wanted to stay in the game. In 2009 he joined the Rhode Island College staff as an assistant coach. Today he’s in his fourth year as an assistant at Bryant, his alma mater.

So far, a fairly typical story. But Burns is a bit different from any other Division I men’s basketball coach: He is the only one who is openly gay.

His first realization that he might be gay came as a sophomore or junior in high school. Like many athletes, he had a tough time reconciling his feelings with his self-image.

“I had never been physical with a guy. I dated a cheerleader. But when I was by myself, I knew who I was attracted to,” Burns recalls.

“I thought I needed to keep up my image with females. But that was never what I wanted.”

At the end of high school, Burns met Anthony Nicodemo, a high school basketball coach in New York. Though living nearly 200 miles apart, they found ways to spend time together. Their relationship was strong and deep — and closeted. For several years, no one knew their secret.

The two men did not use the “g”-word, even with themselves. “We talked about being the best man at each other’s wedding,” Burns says.

Had he not been playing basketball, he notes, his coming-out process might have been quicker and easier. In the locker room, he was surrounded by fear. “I didn’t want anyone to know,” he says. “I was going through my own slow personal journey. I wasn’t ready to tackle emotions. It was more comfortable for me to suppress my feelings.”

Eventually, Burns began venturing out. He and Nicodemo went to gay bars in New York. They made gay friends. Both became more comfortable in their own skins.

“I was living the way I wanted,” Burns says. At 30 years old, “it felt ridiculous that I had been afraid to go out, that I constantly looked over my shoulder and monitored my social media.”

His first steps out of the closet were risky. At first, he simply stopped worrying about what he said. Then he realized he had to do more. He told family members and non-basketball friends.

Two years later he told Bryant’s associate athletic director he was gay. It was a spontaneous coming-out gesture, and his reaction was “great.”

Burns told others, and then his head coach. His reaction was “who cares?” But he did warn Burns about “not risking my profession.”

So — even though the comment had been made from a position of caring – Burns’ coming-out process stalled. For a year and a half, he stayed in a self-imposed basketball closet.

“I agonized,” Burns says. “I wanted to get on with my life, but I didn’t know what that meant. If I came out, would I hurt the other coaches, my players, or me?”

Two months ago, Burns decided to take the leap. He told the other Bryant coaches, then the Bulldogs’ three captains.

Those players were the hardest. “I was all emotional,” he says with a slight laugh. “After talking to my parents, friends and staff, I was scared of these 20-year-olds.”

He told them he might have to quit. “No! We need you here!” they said.

And that was that. Burns told the rest of the team shortly thereafter. There were hugs and heartfelt comments. No one said a negative word. He’s treated the same as before. In fact, Burns says, some bonds are even stronger.

He hangs out in the same locker room he knew as a player. It’s a comfortable place for everyone.

One thing has changed: Burns takes time every day to plow through the “ridiculous amount” of emails, texts, even letters he’s received. They’ve come from conference rivals, other basketball players and coaches, plus young kids and 70-year-olds he’s never met.

All say how proud they are of him.

“Everyone has this idea that sports people are close-minded,” Burns says. “That idea is as outdated as the one that homosexuality should be demonized. Sports people have evolved as much as everyone.

“People are just people. It’s overwhelming to see.”

— Dan Woog

The Dallas Lonestar Basketball Association is the local gay basketball team.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Rugby: Why the world’s roughest sport is also the most gay-friendly

Ruggers

If you’re looking for a stereotypical macho sport, you don’t have to search further than rugby. A full-contact sport — without much protection — it’s got everything: brutal tackling. Dirt and mud. Plenty of parties.

But here’s the interesting thing: Those post-game festivities include both teams. Players sing bawdy songs — but with plenty of mutual admiration. Winners and losers gather together, showing respect on both sides.

That respect for opponents — for everyone in the rugby world, really — is one reason that the sport is so gay-friendly. Referee Nigel Owens came out in 2007, nearly a decade ago. Player Gareth Thomas came out in 2009; he was soon voted the most influential gay person in the U.K. There are other gay professional ruggers too.

The first gay rugby team — London’s Kings Cross Steelers — was founded 25 years ago. Today, there are more than two dozen gay rugby clubs. Some are in places you’d expect. Others might surprise you.

The Nashville Grizzlies were formed in 2006. In the decade since, spokesman Thomas Hormby says they’ve been treated well by every straight team they’ve met — even those from rural Tennessee and Alabama. “We talk a lot about brotherhood on the pitch,” he says. “We’ve always been embraced by our brothers, no matter what their views are off it.”

So it should not come as a surprise that USA Rugby — the sport’s national governing body — has taken a lead in the fight against homophobia. Last month the organization signed a “memorandum of understanding” with International Gay Rugby, formalizing a partnership to promote a diverse, inclusive environment at all levels of the game.

The announcement follows a similar agreement in March. At that time, IGR said it would collaborate with World Rugby on “the promotion of equality and inclusivity” around the globe.

The agreement with USA Rugby specifically ensures that American players are provided with the tools and education necessary to combat discrimination, whether based on sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation or identification.

“USA Rugby recognizes the right of any player, official, coach and spectator to be involved in rugby without bullying, discrimination or exclusion of any kind, and celebrates the differences that make its members unique,” the official statement said.

International Gay Rugby is one of the most active LGBT sports associations on the planet. Its 56 members clubs in 15 countries receive developmental support and resources. IGR clubs play each other (and straight clubs), and host regional, continental and global tournaments and events celebrating diversity and inclusion in the rugby community.

The flagship event is the Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament. Named after the gay rugby player who was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001 — and who helped lead the resistance against the hijackers that crashed the plane in Pennsylvania, before it could be flown into the Capitol or White House — the next competition is set for May 22–29, 2016. There will be 1,500 players, on 45 teams. The tourney will be played in Nashville — the first time ever in the Mid-South, and the first time since 2010 it has been held in the U.S. The Grizzlies are hosts.

The upcoming tournament marks nearly 15 years since Mark Bingham’s heroism. At the time, the idea of a gay rugby player was novel. But as the world realized what transpired on board the plane that horrific morning, one athlete’s sexuality seemed far less important than the sense of purpose — and teamwork — of all the passengers who stormed the cockpit.

That camaraderie seems to be an important aspect of what makes rugby such an appealing sport to all who play it — gay and straight.

But just because the Grizzlies’ experience has been so positive — and even though both USA Rugby and World Rugby are committed to inclusion and diversity — work remains to be done.

There are still pitches where anti-gay slurs are used. Some ruggers still resent gay athletes. That’s why the official statements from governing bodies — and the educational efforts that follow — are so important.

The anti-discrimination policies are also intended to encourage straight players to step up as LGBT allies. They won’t be the first. The coming-out announcements of gay players so far have been met with strong support from teammates, as well as opponents.

Of course, Hormby notes, plenty of gay rugby athletes have not yet come out. “We want to make our environment safe for everyone,” he says. “We want this to be the most inclusive sport in the world.”

So don’t be surprised when you hear stories about rugby — one of the most macho sports in the world — embracing its gay side. Who knows? There may soon be a post-game drinking song about it too.

—Dan Woog

Editor’s note: North Texas fields two gay rugby teams. They are the Dallas Diablos and the Lost Souls.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Ex-UT coach wonders if she was forced out because she’s a lesbian

On Tuesday I speculated that Bev Kearney, who resigned last weekend as women’s track coach at the University of Texas over an affair with a student-athlete 10 years ago, may have been treated unfairly by the school because of her sexual orientation. In other words, while the relationship was clearly inappropriate — a fact which Kearney herself acknowledges — would she have been forced to step down if she were a Hall of Fame male coach who’d won six national championships and whose affair with a female athlete was brought to light a decade later?

Coincidentally, just as I was posting my item, Kearney was appearing on CNN’s Starting Point, where she would essentially go public with the same question.

“Is it because I have a disability? Is it because I’m black? Is it because I’m female? Is it because I’m successful? Is it now because of my sexual preference?” Kearney asked CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “I had to finally come to embrace not knowing why, and I had to embrace it because the more you try to figure out why, the harder it is to forgive.”

—  John Wright

Eye candy of the day: Ben Cohen

Just in time for our summer sports edition, a little treat for fans of gay-friendly rugby star Ben Cohen, from the photoshoot for his new calendar. I’ve met Cohen; he really is as dreamy as he appears. Sigh. And check out our stories about a local gay Olympic torchbearer, a new gay basketball league & more.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Inaugural season starts Saturday for Dallas Gay B-Ball Association at Reverchon

Last month, I posted how there’s a new game in town as the Dallas Gay Basketball Association was forming and signing up members. Organizer Steven Coleman called me up yesterday to tell me that Saturday will be the first game day of their inaugural season. For the next seven weeks, the DGBA takes over every Saturday afternoon at Reverchon. And with an impressive number of members to boot.

“We’ve had 42 people sign up,” Coleman says. “So right now, we have six teams of seven.”

They have capped membership for now to avoid being overwhelmed, but that’s a healthy way to start the first season.

Coleman says that an additional two weeks will play after the season for playoffs. The hope is to start a summer league, but right now, the focus is on getting the word out about tomorrow.

The DGBA plays from 2–5 p.m. at the Reverchon Rec.

 

—  Rich Lopez

DVD review: “KickOff” (2011)

Kickoff (2011), starring Jay Brown, David Chrysanthou, Jason Maza, Rebecca Joerin; directed and written by Rikki Beadle Blair. Now available.

If the Bad News Bears were gayer, more British and about football (nay, American soccer), you’d have KickOff. This light-hearted sports romp mixes and matches stereotypes with some actual touching moments and plenty of slow-mo shots of shirtless boys in shorty shorts in the story of a fuchsia-clad gay football team, Platoon, accidentally paired against the big, bad heterosexual team, the Reapers. Best line: “There’s no such thing as a meterosexual, they’re just a homosexual who I ain’t met yet.”

Worth a rent? Yes

Rating: ***1/2

— Jef Tingley

—  Arnold Wayne Jones