Gay men and sports typically do not go hand-in-hand in the eyes of the society at large. But for many gay men, sports has become or has always been a part of who they are. For me, I have played sports most of my life. I remember the summer softball league I joined was the first organized sport I played at 9 years old. That was when I got my first real taste of competition, athleticism and winning. Jump to today, where I play and captain several different sports year-round. But it just didn’t happen overnight. In becoming an athlete there definitely were challenges that I faced. Here’s a guide on how to become an athlete for a gay man who has no idea where to start.
Find a Sport You Enjoy
This can prove very challenging for many reasons. There are so many sports out there it can be overwhelming. A good way to start is to find a sport you enjoy to watch, whether it’s on TV or it’s in person. That first sport for me was football. The first thing that caught my eye about football was there were SO many hot guys running around the field with muscles galore. That alone had me hooked. Then when I went to watch my first game I experienced so much more. I experienced such a euphoric atmosphere when watching live sports in an arena filled with crazy fans and excited friends. The feeling was also the same when watching sports on TV and the game has been neck-and-neck the entire time against longtime heated rivals. That’s typically when you see such intensity and incredible athleticism from the athletes on the screen. It’s likely if you enjoy watching the sport, you’ll enjoy playing the sport.
Learn the Sport
Once you’ve found the sport in which you’re interested, now you’ve got to learn the basic rules of the sport and how to play it. There are plenty of ways to learn how to play. Social media is a great tool. There are tutorials for everything nowadays and that certainly holds true for sports. I’ve used YouTube as a great resource when learning a new sport. But what helped me the most were the gay men in my community willing to teach me from the ground up. Living in Chicago, I’ve been fortunate to have a wide network of gay friends who are willing to teach me what I need to know about various sports. Chicago also has an incredibly large gay sports scene which is great because the gay athletes skill level range from beginner to (what I personally believe to be) Olympic caliber. If you’ve got a gay bestie or two that’s willing to spend time teaching you the ropes then definitely use them as a resource. Let them know you are a beginner and you’re interested in understanding (or better understanding) the rules and the learning the different techniques of the sport.
Practice and Play the Sport
Now it’s time to have some fun – get up, get out and get playing. It can be a simple pick-up game of basketball on a weekend as a way to workout or a game of beach volleyball to get a peek of all the cute boys while getting a tan at the same time. Whatever it is, make sure you get in that practice time. Find other gay men around your skill level and play as much as you can. It should be a fun way to bring together what you’ve learned while learning from others.
Improving at the Sport
An athlete always wants to improve his skill. If you enjoy playing your sport and the competition of it, at some point you’ll probably want to become better at it. It may take much time before you see improvement and that’s absolutely to be expected – be sure to remember that. The more you play and learn (especially with other gay men of similar or higher skill level), the better athlete you’ll become. You will better understand the rules of the game and become a more proficient player.
Above all, being an athlete should be fun. You meet so many gay men and build relationships that can be very lasting. Once you become that athlete you aspire to be, be open to sharing what you’ve learned with other gay men who may be interested in learning the sport you play. Personally, the camaraderie I’ve encountered in the gay sports community is like nothing I’ve ever experienced… and I absolutely love it.