Lorenzo Guerra and nephew Ray Bustillos make volleyball a family affair
RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
Most 17-year-olds spend Friday nights on the summer before their senior year of high school hanging with friends, watching movies or attending pool parties. But Ray Bustillos isn’t like most teenagers. Bustillos kicks off his weekends on the volleyball court as one of the youngest members of the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association.
“I wanted to show him what I was made of, but was intimidated when we first played each other,” Bustillos admits. “I just went full throttle.
But I wanted to make him proud.”
Guerra admits he also held back at first but as the season progressed, he brought it: “The competitive side hits and so I just played the way I always do,” he says.
Bustillos already had support from friends, but Guerra, who was the first family member he came out to, helped him find a gay group to add structure. When Guerra saw his nephew playing volleyball at an area rec center, the longtime DIVA member sought an exception from the group’s board to allow Bustillos to play, though, at 16, he was younger than the cutoff age at the time.
“At first I was a little worried and was telling everyone he’s my nephew,” Guerra says. “I wondered how he’d interact with other players. But he held is own and was intermingling really well. Now he’s bringing his friends in.”
Bustillos more than holds his own: His skills on the court placed him in the Competitive division; within two years, he surpassed Guerra’s Advanced division and now plays in Power. But for Bustillos, DIVA isn’t just about the game — he’s found another family to rely on.
“DIVA’s really opened my eyes to the possibility that anything can really happen,” he says. “I’ve learned so much being there. I’ve participated in the parade, raised money for charity, and been introduced to the national organization. And I get to do it with my uncle.”
For Guerra, DIVA isn’t just about nurturing his family relationship, but encouraging the group to appeal to a younger demographic. Bustillos is working to get his friends to join.
“It’s refreshing to see that young blood come in and keep the DIVA legacy going and growing,” he says. “I’m really proud of him.”
Despite competing on the court, Bustillos never loses sight that Guerra is a great uncle for whom he has deep love and respect.
“He has the best words of advice, and not just in volleyball,” Bustillos says. “The entire DIVA population really looks up to him as I do.”
That includes his respect for Lencha Marie. As he was reviewing the DIVA website, Bustillos stumbled on a picture of past Miss DIVA winners.
“When I saw that I was just like, ‘Is that you?’” he laughs. “It was like, ‘Oh my god, my uncle was Miss DIVA!’ I was excited to find out about it.
And now that everyone knows that we’re related, they call me Lencha Junior.”
Sounds like a diva in the making.
For more information, visit DIVADallas.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 29, 2012.