For our annual celebration of sports, the Los Angeles Blade reached out to LA’s very own Varsity Gay League and asked players and team leaders to nominate their choices for the most outstanding athletes among their ranks. Their picks were based on skill, athleticism, team spirit, attitude, and all around positive energy – along with a healthy dash of sex appeal, of course.
Here are the final picks for the Blade’s All-Star Team, listed in alphabetical order:
Los Angeles; originally from Virginia Beach, Va.
Plays: Kickball, Varsity Gay League (captain, player, and sub, “Bloody Marys” and “Work, Pitch”)
Sports Hero: A tie between Jason Collins, Gus Kenworthy, and Adam Rippon, all out athletes. “As a leader of the Human Rights Campaign, I had the privilege of meeting all three individuals, and they were just as kind, humble, and passionate as I imagined they would be.”
Proudest Sports Moment: “Captaining one of the two teams in Varsity Gay League’s very first Drag Kickball Game. Not only was this a fun experience with some of my closest friends to celebrate our community for L.A. Pride weekend, but we had the opportunity to raise funds for one of my best friends – Ronnie Bartimus, who was hospitalized and in ICU at Cedars Sinai – and his family.”
Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “I am an out and proud LGBT athlete. Just like any other passionate athlete, I exert myself to my utmost potential, and I give my all on the field.”
Favorite locker room story: “In school, we rarely used the locker rooms, and when we did, it was mostly just getting in and out – no real ‘locker room talk,’ like you see in the movies.
West Hollywood; originally from Los Gatos, Calif.
Plays: Kickball, Varsity Gay League: co-captain of “The Bloody Marys.” Also plays in an LGBT-oriented flag football league.
Sports Hero: Ray Bourque, hockey defenseman, Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche.
Proudest Sports Moment: “Five days before my first flag football tournament (Gay Bowl), I pulled my hamstring in a kickball game. I wrapped it up and played the entire tournament, and completely dominated.”
Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “In a high school football locker room, I felt being gay was really one of the worst things I could have been. I feel like I didn’t get a real chance to play to my 100% best because I severely lacked confidence due to how scared I was each day. Today, I play much more freely and really don’t think about it too much, which is how it should be – so being a gay athlete is really just about overcoming the perception that I didn’t belong.”
Favorite locker room story: “It’s actually kind of sad. When I was a freshman playing JV football, some of the sophomores were hazing and they pinned me down trying to give me a “Purple Nurple” with a wrench. I was freaked out, but one of the other sophomores stopped them yelling ‘He is OUR teammate.’ It stuck with me.”
West Hollywood; originally from Chicopee, Mass.
Plays: Tennis, Varsity Gay League (player and assistant general manager).
Sports Hero: Serena Williams. “She’s the greatest tennis player of all time and is still dominant into her late 30s. Watching replays of her matches on YouTube has been my equivalent of taking actual tennis lessons!”
Proudest Sports Moment: “The advancements I’ve made with my skill level in playing tennis. It was only three summers ago that I joined LA’s Varsity Gay League in a division for beginners. Now I’m competing against much higher-level opponents, holding my own, and even snagging a few trophies along the way.”
Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “I appreciate the fact that when it comes to sports, sexual preference doesn’t divide us. When I’m playing tennis, it’s just two people competing.”
Favorite locker room story: “Unfortunately, I don’t have any really good ones… yet!”
North Hollywood; originally from Eildon, Australia
Plays: Dodgeball, currently not on a team; she is official photographer of all sports content for Varsity Gay League.
Sports Hero: Ian Thorpe, Australian Olympic swimmer who came out as gay.
Proudest Sports Moment: “When I was 13, my first overseas journey was traveling to America to play tennis for a competition in Minnesota. I fell in love with the USA and wanted to move here after that.”
Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “It’s important for everyone to be treated equally, encouraged to beat their personal bests and be supported by teammates. An athlete is an athlete”
Favorite locker room story: “I’m not sure I have ever entered a locker room – but from what I’ve seen in ‘A League of Their Own’ there’s crying and singing.”
Plays: Soccer, West Hollywood Soccer Club (forward) and Varsity Gay Soccer League (forward, “Messi Bottoms”), also plays in LA Municipal League and will compete in the Paris Gay Games in August; Kickball, Varsity Gay League (player, “Brown Cow, Stunning!”)
Sports Hero: Robbie Rogers, former LA Galaxy defender and once the only out professional athlete in the country. “He had so much courage to come out in an environment that I never truly felt comfortable in, and still played at the highest level while representing our community.”
Proudest Sports Moment: “It’s hard to pin down, but last fall winning the WeHo Sports Festival Soccer Tournament with my team as well as winning VGL Soccer in the fall were by far the highlights of my year.”
Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “The cool thing is that you are just like every other athlete, except you also pushed passed a lot of judgment and preconceptions just to play like everyone else. It can be really hard for people of the community to even attempt to join a team of any kind as a child or an adult because of the environment they often encounter. It is so important to find that extra bit of courage to get out there and just play.”
Favorite locker room story: “Unfortunately I don’t have any!”
West Hollywood; originally from Mexico and raised in Grover Beach, CA.
Identifies: Queer Latinx
Plays: Kickball, Varsity Gay League (first base and other positions, “Bloody Marys” and “Dusty Queens”); Dodgeball, Varsity Gay League (corner, catcher and sniper, “Cummy Bears” and “Bromance”).
Sports Hero: Anyone who has the confidence to be out, and to pave the way for others to be comfortable with themselves.
Proudest Sports Moment: “I led a group of dodgeballers who never played kickball before to a winning kickball season in B Division. We were close friends who knew how to work together, and our teamwork led us to victory. I was a proud mother.”
Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “I’m just an athlete who happens to be LGBT. It does feel liberating to be out, and to be acknowledged by your straight peers as a valuable player.”
Favorite locker room story: “You’ll have to read my memoirs for that. ;-)”
And because every team needs someone to whip up excitement from the fans, we’ve also included a top-notch cheerleader.
North Hollywood; originally from Palmdale, Calif.
Plays: Cheer, West Hollywood Elite Cheerleaders (team captain and choreographer; cheer name, “Anita Cheer”)
Sports Hero: Lebron James
Proudest Sports Moment: “Leading a team of cheerleaders at LA Pride performing my choreography down the street and knowing four months ago we didn’t exist. We had started with nothing and now we were performing in one of the largest events in the city – and we looked like we knew what we were doing!”
Thoughts on being an LGBT athlete: “For me it’s all about being able to be appreciated and entertain people in a fun and different way.”
Favorite locker room story: “No comment!”