Image courtesy of revolked2.blogspot.com
There are a number of LGBTQ sporting organizations within Toronto. From soccer, to water polo, to dodge ball. Teams and organizations range in their competitiveness from friendly to intense or “fierce”, They range in size from teams of half a dozen to leagues of over 500. For a city that only had a handful of LGBTQ sporting organizations in 2000 Toronto has seen an explosion with now close to 50 teams and organizations for people to choose from, and it isn’t alone, cities across the continent have experienced a growth in LGBTQ sports. Why?
First and foremost are the numbers. With greater acceptance more people have come out of the closet. The HIV-AIDS epidemic that decimated the gay and bisexual male community has become more manageable and infection rates have decreased with safe sex practices and awareness. This means there are a lot more people within the community. More people means more interests and more people to join teams and build out new sporting organizations.
As the queer community has gained greater acceptance within society the fringe aspect and counter culture that thrived within it, while still there, is no longer as prominent as it once was. People, younger people in particular, don’t particularly identify themselves by their sexual orientation, it is simply a small part of them. Being gay doesn’t make someone as “different” as it once did. Joining a sports organization before might have been seen as an attempt to appear macho, or pay lip service to the oppressive societal norms that so many had rejected and is no longer the case for many.
Community, love, and friends. It can be hard finding people to date, whether you’re Queer or Straight. While there are bars, clubs, dating sites, and applications like Grindr or Scruff, they often leave a little to be desired. Sporting organizations have allowed people to interact with other Queer people, expand their friendship circle and explore another, more organic, way to meet potential partners. When I first came to Toronto joining a sporting organization was where I met most of the friends i have today and I continue to recommend joining a team or organization to anyone new to this city or any other.
While I believe that the increase in numbers, and greater acceptance has allowed for a greater burgeoning of sports organization within the Queer community, I feel it is the desire to meet new people, develop new relationships (romantic and platonic) that has been the key contributor to the growth,
Do you think there are any other contributing factors to this growth I haven’t mentioned or feel one of the others is more important?