JOZ OF LIFE: Sports franchises celebrate Pride month, LGBTQIA+ teams head to Softball World Series events

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It’s safe to say the secret is out (pun intended) on professional sports embracing the LGBTQIA+ community. In fact, all but two Major League baseball franchises nationwide (cough… we’re looking at you, Texas) have introduced some form of celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community. While some progressive strongholds in other cities have enjoyed nearly a decade of collaboration, it’s worth noting that Las Vegas saw a modest, but perceptible upping of the ante as it relates to professional sports embracing (and courting) our community. Although there is work left to do, those critical first steps are being made.

Look no further than Pride Night celebrations hosted by the Aces and the Aviators last month to understand where the market is going. The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) figured prominently in both events with Executive Director John Waldron throwing the ceremonial first pitch for the Aviators.

Aces pregame ceremonies included recognition of a variety of community honorees from The Center, Las Vegas Pride and Equality Nevada (among others). Both events offered resource and engagement areas with participation from community organizations, such as Vegas Urban Pride, GLSEN and several media outlets in addition to the honorees. Las Vegas Spectrum magazine caught up with attendees enjoying themselves and reveling in the community celebrations.

Softball teams qualify for Gay Softball World Series
As our fair city braces for another month of triple digit temperatures, the LGBTQIA+ softball community is busy preparing to represent Las Vegas in upcoming World Series tournaments. Founded in 2009, the Las Vegas Gay Softball League (LVGSL) is comprised of more than 250 amateur athletes competing on about 25 teams in both open and women’s divisions. The league is an active member city of the Amateur Sports Alliance of North America (ASANA) and North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA). Both of which are nonprofit organizations dedicated to the promotion of amateur athletics with a special emphasis on the participation of members from the LGBTQIA+ community.

ASANA World Series to be held Aug. 27-31 in Long Beach

ASANA Softball World Series is hosted annually in a different member city. Athletes compete in six divisions, ranging from recreational to competitive.

The 2019 ASANA World Series will host teams in Long Beach, California. More than 1,500 athletes from 25 member cities nationwide are expected for the weeklong tournament. LVGSL is sending a single women’s team (The Beavers) to compete in the C Division. Coming off a qualifying championship at the Sin City Classic and picking up talented players from the league, the Beavers are in contention to bring home an ASANA World Series title. Full disclosure: I am on the team and will play in the tournament.

GSWS, NAGAAA, Sept. 2-7
NAGAAA is a 501c(3) international sports organization that hosts organized softball competition for LGBTQIA+ athletes. For over 40 years, NAGAAA has partnered with a host city to deliver the Gay Softball World Series (GSWS). The weeklong tournament is the largest annual, LGBTQIA+ single-sport, athletic competition in the world. Teams from 46 member cities across North America compete to qualify and represent their city in one of five divisions. More than 17,000 players across North America participate in member leagues, and the best of these teams converge annually. The 2019 GSWS invites teams to play in Kansas City, Missouri. LVGSL will send these teams: ● Lazer Sports – A Division ● Reigning Men – C Division ● Sin City Bandits – D Division ● The Phoenix Firebenders- D Division ● Las Vegas Outlaws- E Division

LVGSL to host new player clinics
LVGSL will hold player rating clinics 9-11 a.m., Aug. 18-25 at Doc Romeo Park (field 7). Clinics are free to attend. Attendees can meet board members, coaches, and/or receive help finding the right team. NOTE: Participants should wear athletic clothing and bring a softball glove. Spare gloves will be available in limited quantities for prospective players who do not yet have one. Metal cleats are prohibited (rubber soles and turf shoes only). Learn more at lvgsl.com.

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