Community spirit is traveling westward across Michigan, spawned by the success of the first LGBT Sports Fair in the state, hosted by Affirmations on March 19. In fact, two men who attended the fair were so inspired by the event that they decided to start their own in Ann Arbor to showcase the opportunities for people in the LGBT community to get involved in sports and recreational activities.
The Ann Arbor Gay Sports Expo will be held at the autBAR in Ann Arbor on June 20 from 7-10 p.m., and will feature a variety of activities including football, bowling, running, biking, swimming and others.
There is no cost to attend or to have a table at the event.
Don Hubbard of the Arbor Lanes Rainbow Bowling League has teamed up with Leeron Kopelman of http://www.teammichigan.us to organize the Ann Arbor event. Team Michigan is a growing online database of Michigan-based LGBT-friendly sports organizations.
Both men said they were inspired by the previous event, and wanted to bring a hub for LGBT sports to Ann Arbor. “I went to the event at Affirmations and I was so glad they did that,” Hubbard said. “I wanted to set one up here, because how else do we get info out to people about all these different groups?”
Hubbard started the Rainbow Bowling League at Arbor Lanes 12 years ago as a place where LGBT bowlers and their allies could enjoy the game together. There are typically ten teams, and once a year they have a one-day tournament with 40 teams called The Winter Express Trio Tournament.
You can spot Hubbard at the expo brandishing his team logo – a dog sitting in a puddle of rainbow water. “We’re The WETT Dogs,” he explained with a grin. “Named after the tournament we have each year.”
Hubbard drove to Ferndale for the fair at Affirmations, and spoke with others about the importance of LGBT sports and of getting involved whether one is athletic or not. “People always worry about their ability, but it’s not about that,” he insisted. “We have teams for all abilities and all kinds of people. It’s more about being able to get out and have fun somewhere safe. Somewhere different than the bars.”
Eighteen different groups made it out to the Affirmations fair, including the Rainbow Bowling League and The Rainbow Pride League all the way from Flint. The event attracted over 150 people, demonstrating the need for structured athletic activities where all can feel welcome. Though the turnout is not expected to be as high for this premiere Ann Arbor expo, Hubbard and Kopelman are hopeful it will start a tradition of organization among LGBT friendly teams.
“Gay sports teams are important on many levels,” said Kopelman. “Obviously the exercise provides physical health benefits, but the networking and camaraderie – being able to do what we enjoy and let down our hair at the same time – also contributes to our personal well-being. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people.”
Teams, groups and organizers interested in hosting a table for no charge at the Gay Sports Expo can e-mail Kopelman at [email protected]
Gay Sports Expo
7 p.m. June 20
autBAR, 315 Braun Court, Ann Arbor