A federal judge in Washington State ruled that North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association (NAGAA), the national gay softball association, can maintain its limit on the number of straight players per team.
This case initially was brought up after three men, who identify as bisexual, filed a suit against NAGAA after their team was disqualified from the 2008 Gay World Series in Seattle for violating the limit of “nongay” players.
These are two completely separate issues. I will take up the second one first.
The fact that a gay sports league would discriminate against bisexual members is ridiculous. They are part of the LGBTQ community and are, unfortunately, one of the groups of people (along with Trans people) that face intense discrimination and prejudice from outside as well as inside the community.
The idea that they have to prove their sexuality to their teammates in order to be on the team is such an absurd concept, I cannot even believe it is being questioned. What, they’re going to somehow incorporate a porn screening process or public sexual arousal as part of try outs? I’d love to see how this judge would rule on that issue.
Now to the second point: barring heterosexual people from the team.
In his ruling, U.S. district judge John Coughenour wrote, “Plaintiffs have failed to argue that there is a compelling state interest in allowing heterosexuals to play gay softball. … NAGAAA might very well believe that given the history of gay exclusion for sports, the only way to promote competition for all persons, and ensure that gay athletes have the same opportunities as straight athletes, is to create an exclusively gay community with exceptions for a small number of straight players. … It is not the role of the courts to scrutinize the content of an organization’s chosen expression.”
This is reverse discrimination. Chances are, if these straight men are willingly to play “gay” softball, they’re allies to the community. What good does it do to exclude them from sports? We should be encouraging people of all orientations and identities to play together – not excluding them into neatly packaged athletic communities that don’t even ship to the same zip code. What are they so afraid of?
Being inclusive in sports can work – I’ve witnessed it. My boyfriend has played on Gotham Volleyball, the “gay” volleyball league in New York that is open to ALL people. I’ve met gay, lesbian and trans team members after games who peacefully coexist with one another on and off the court. They’re all able to find common ground – despite whatever perceived differences there might be.
That being said, my boyfriend has told me that there are some “closeted” straight people in the league who don’t talk about their sexuality openly (not that they should have to). My boyfriend is friends with some of these straight men and he treats them no differently than any other teammate. Not to mention, there’s nothing in Gotham’s rule book that prohibits them from playing.
I want to wrap up this (kind of long) post with one question for our readership: If you love playing a sport and you get along with your teammates/are invested in their lives, what does it matter how they identify?
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