is home to gay fans and enthusiasts that have a love for sports and outdoor activities. I asked Co-founder and President Cyd Zeigler
a few questions about gay sports bars, athletes of the year and the one sport that gets him going.
During the NFL Playoffs I walked into an establishment that claimed to be a "gay sports bar" but instead of playing the game they were playing a Madonna video. Is there a place for gay sports enthusiasts in gay nightlife culture?
Absolutely! First, there is a myth that a sports bar has to be playing all sports all the time, with the sound of the game on. There are plenty of sports bars that play sports on the TVs, switching over to American Idol
when it's appropriate, while playing music. With that said, if a bar isn't playing NFL playoff games while they're on, it’s not a sports bar. In New York City there is Gym Sportsbar, which plays sports nonstop; in Chicago, there's Crew Bar. And both of them are bona fide sports bars that happen to be gay.
What can gay sports enthusiasts expect from Outsports.com?
Some well-written, thoughtful and sometimes entertaining articles about sports and gay athletes, mostly written by gay people. There is also an incredible community that has arisen at Outsports, centering around our active discussion board. If you want to talk about the NBA playoffs, read stories about out gay collegiate athletes, find a friend to toss a football with, or you haven't paid much attention to sports but want to start, Outsports.com is the place for you.
Does Outsports.com have its own gay version of the ESPY's?
We have a couple of year-end awards. But, the biggest award we give out every year would be King of the Hardwood, an NCAA-tournament-style contest designed by one of our members, MarinerDuckGuy. It pits the 64 hottest male athletes against one another. Past winners have been Olympic skier and Philadelphia Eagle Jeremy Bloom and Houston Astro Brad Ausmus. Scottish rugby player Sean Lamont won this year, mostly for baring all (and I mean ALL) in a photo shoot.
Who do you think will win this year?
This year it would be a no-brainer: John Amaechi
. Not just for his book and for coming out, but for the eloquence with which he has spoken on so many topics. He is everywhere because he is a great interview
, and it’s powerful to have him out there.
You're an avid flag football player. You met your business partner, Jim Buzinski, playing the game and you founded the New York Gay Flag Football League. When did you start playing flag football and is it your number one sport?
Flag football and Ultimate Frisbee are my two favorite sports. I’ve been playing Ultimate competitively since college. I started playing flag football only after I came out. I met Jim at Los Angeles Gay Pride, and he convinced me to come out and play with his gay football team. It was a blast, so I kept going back.
Do you think professional sports will ever come around to accepting openly gay players?
They already have. The majority of fans have said they don’t care if their favorite athlete is gay. The majority of athletes have said they don’t care if one of their teammates is gay. Scores of athletes have come out on their teams to open arms. Dozens of owners, coaches, managers and high-profile players have said they don’t care. Unfortunately, there’s still an atmosphere of homophobia surrounding sports because that’s the image the gay, sports and mass media all portray. If a starter for the New York Knicks came out of the closet tomorrow, there will be little repercussion. But, because no one has done it, there’s still the “what if” factor.
If you were a professional sports player would you play as an openly gay man or stay in the closet?
That’s impossible to say. Knowing what I know now, it’s an easy choice: I’d be openly gay. But, if I was, say, the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, my journey would have been very different, and I wouldn’t know what I know today. When you’re in the middle of a maze, you don’t have the best perspective to see how to get out.
Would you date someone who hated sports?
It doesn’t matter to me what someone else’s interests are, as long as they don’t hate or resent me for liking sports. I’ve been with my partner for four years. He couldn’t care less about sports. But, if I leave for an entire day to watch football, he doesn’t stop me and doesn’t berate me when I get home. Just like I don’t berate him for window shopping all day.
I played tackle football and ran track in high school. I eventually realized my talents were much better suited in the band. Do you have any tips on how young gay sports players can stay in the game?
Everyone joins and leaves sports for their own reasons. Some people start in football and end up laying tennis. The beauty of sports is the community you’re a part of by participating. I’m not going to get a big contract, and I’m not going to win the NBA Championship. But, I love sports and along the way I get to meet new friends and get to know people of all walks of life. To me, the desire to do those things is the best reason to keep playing.
You’re a gay Republican, which many people think is an oxymoron. What's your message to the critics?
Tough question. Today’s gay liberalism is often so full of hatred and close-mindedness, it can be worse than divisive religious conservatism. I don’t know if it’s a message, but a request to gay people who don’t understand conservatives to keep an open mind. If I showed you the hateful emails I have gotten from gay liberals, you would cringe.
If you could design your own gay pride float, what would it look like?
I’m not a big fan of Gay Pride, so I’d probably opt to design a float for Provincetown’s Independence Day parade. And if I could design a float for that parade, it would be an over-sized model of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s head. That would get gay guys’ attention.
Cyd Zeigler and his team of gay sports fans and writers can be found at Outsports.com.