It’s hard to deny LGBT acceptance in sports is growing right alongside acceptance in society at large.
Professional basketball player Jason Collins recently came out as a gay man. Former professional soccer player Robbie Rogers came out in April. Straight allies in sports, like NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo, are paving the way for other gay athletes to come out, as well.
When basketball player Britney Griner came out earlier this month following her selection as number one overall in the WNBA draft, it was welcome, albeit not earth-shattering, news.
Three gay-inclusive Atlanta-area softball leagues will soon kick off their fall seasons and all are currently pre-registering players.
The Decatur Women’s Sports League will play on two fields on Fridays this fall due to league expansion. Twelve teams will each compete at two different fields, Blackburn Park and Kelly Cofer Park, Friday evenings from Sept. 3 through Oct. 26.
Teams will be selected based on skill level and distance from the two playing fields.
Coaches from the DWSL will be on-hand at Savage Pizza (115 Laredo Drive, Avondale Estates, Ga. 30002) for registration Friday, Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m. To register, visit www.decaturwomensports.com
Several gay Atlanta sports leagues will kick off their Spring seasons in the coming weeks, including three softball leagues, a flag football league and a soccer league.
The Decatur Women’s Softball League, an all-women’s league, returns to the diamond March 16 for its sixth annual Spring season. This season, the action will take place at a new field, the fields at Blackburn Park off of Ashford Dunwoody Road. The league previously played at Kelly Cofer Park but has moved locations for the season due to field repairs.
Games will be held at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. from March 16 through the end of May. The League will take Friday, April 6 off to mark Good Friday.
The crack of the bat is as linked to spring as leaves sprouting from trees, but this year the Decatur Women’s Sports League will pause to remember a fallen friend before taking the field.
Laura Zekoll — sailor, pilot, business owner and a founding member of the Women’s League — was lost at sea in November and is presumed dead. She was participating in a yacht race when the boat she was in capsized and she was washed out of the lifeboat. Her body was never recovered.
Zekoll, 46, was a fixture of several nonprofits, including Breakthrough House for women dealing with addiction, and played on a number of Atlanta’s gay and lesbian sports teams.
The Decatur Women’s Sports League first began in March 2007. With softball as the initial sport, 200 happy lesbians (and allies) finally found a league of their own. From that point on, the sports interest grew and additions were made that included bowling, basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton.
“With much diversity and a cooperative spirit these women all played recreation ball, made friends, got exercise and donated money to the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative to help underinsured women to go to the doctor and receive mammograms and health care,” says Anne “Sarge” Barr, founder and commissioner of the league.
The Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative honored Barr with its 2008 “Healing Angel” award for her work with the sports league and the money it has raised. As of Fall 2010, the Decatur Women’s Sports League has donated $50,000 to the health initiative.