by Jessica Carreras
Don’t ever tell Tim McCloud that gay men can’t play sports, or he might make you eat your words. The 31-year-old Royal Oak resident is an avid runner, plays basketball regularly and manages the Affirmations kickball team.
Wait – kickball?
“It’s a very competitive league,” McCloud insists of the Oak Park-based league his team is a part of. “You wouldn’t think so, but I think as kickball as an adult sport has grown in popularity, there’s been teams that have taken it more seriously.”
And on March 19 at Affirmations, they’ll be recruiting.
From 6-9 p.m. at the Ferndale community center, the kickball team, along with a slew of other sporting groups as diverse as kayaking, bowling and female-only football will be part of the first-ever LGBT sports and recreation fair. The idea behind the event, formulated by Affirmations’ staff, was simple: To bring information about all of Michigan’s LGBT sporting groups into one place.
“There’s all these existing great organizations and groups going on in the community…and we think our role (at Affirmations) is to act as a clearinghouse of information about our community,” explains Social and Enrichment Coordinator Maureen Jones. “It’s kind of like a one-stop shop for all the sports and recreation information in the community.”
The one stop will include representatives from such groups as Get OUT Bike, Team Detroit Aquatics, Lez Hike, Motown Drivers and five different LGBT bowling groups. And, of course, kickball.
McCloud explains that the non-traditional sport has really taken off, and Affirmations is making their way up the ranks as the league’s only LGBT and allied team. He says their presence, though occasionally met with closed-mindedness, is a reminder of the LGBT community’s value. “Oak Park is a city league, a standard league, so obviously it’s not even a gay league,” he says. “It’s really important that we have Affirmations out there so that all these other teams can see that we’re a fun group, we’re competitive and that we’re still making a name for Affirmations.”
Also making a name for Affirmations – and having a presence at the upcoming sports fair – is their softball team, Relay for Life team and yoga participants. Jones says they hope to show the center’s strong support of LGBT-friendly sporting groups by wearing their team jerseys. “We will try to make it like a fair, and have some games and giveaways,” she says. “We’re trying to make it as fun as possible.”
Also on site will be a massage therapist to help relax all those sore muscles and explain the importance of stretching to healthy play.
Which, says Jones, can be just as important as hard work.
While some members of the LGBT community may attend rallies and community forums, Affirmations’ LGBT Sports and Recreation Fair offers all those activists and advocates a chance to get involved in a different way.
“People started forming their own teams to have a safe place to be able to have fun,” says Jones, who notes that many of the LGBT sporting groups have straight participants as well. “While that might not be a need now to have a group just for LGBT people, there’s still an important place to go so you can have fun without maybe being self-conscious about anything else.”
McCloud agrees, and thinks that it’s great that Affirmations is putting some focus on sports. “I think a lot of people like to be involved (in the LGBT community) in other ways, but sometimes I think recreation is not always a priority,” he says. “I think it’s nice that Affirmaitons makes that more of a priority than it is in other places. It’s nice, especially in the summer, to be outside with people.”
Especially for a game of kickball.
LGBT Sports and Recreation Fair
6-9 p.m. March 19
Affirmations, 290 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale