Rams Pride Small Business Showcase: Varsity Gay League

Founded in 2007 as an alternative to the bar and night scene, creating the usual games and activities for the queer community, the Varsity Gay League (VGL) was inspired by the growing experiences of director and creator Will Hackner.

“Although recreational sports have long existed in this ‘straight’ world, the odd opportunities were limited to football, softball, soccer, and basketball – great sports, but built with a hyper-masculine approach,” Hackner said. “Like me, they didn’t grow up in organized games and for most of my childhood they were bullied for not being sporty and small, so I wanted to create a space to play and eliminate the age of judgment. Possible.”

This identity first appeared with a flag-catching game, and currently schedules 40 activities a week for more than 7,000 queer adults across America, from kickball to beach volleyball and basketball and soccer.

Recently, VGL celebrated its 15th anniversary and filmed an ad with McDonald’s as the first weird couple in the fast food chain. This ad was filmed with Hackner and his friends and teammates, as well as players in their community.

“The hope, of course, is to bring more representation to the sport from a different perspective,” Hackner said. “It’s also very exciting to say you’ve been to a McDonald’s ad.”

It is the community that promotes VGL. Hacker said the sport’s connection allows it to be a great platform for building trust and friendship, adding that “so far, exercising, networking; the burden of moving is a social framework built on being a team player, not an icon.” .

To that end, VGL has worked with more than 40,000 people, including 13,000 in LA alone.

“All of their stories and moments and emotions have resonated with me over the years,” Hackner said. “Their stories became my story because I saw them live. It’s a real blessing to be surrounded by empathy and kindness, and that starts with a positive support community.”

Hackner said he is proud not only of the growth of the organization, but also of the inspiration it has given to many other groups across the country.

“Ultimately, my goal is to create a queer sports venue in every metropolitan city in the United States, regardless of the color of the state,” Hackner said. “We want to continue to make the sport more accessible to beginners and, above all, to have fun over time.”

As a better ally of the LGBTQ + community, Hackner said he is a supportive voice.

“Allied is a very outdated term, from my point of view,” Hackner said. “I think the acceptance of the queer community has evolved, forced or not. Certainly not anywhere, and certainly not with these toxic masculine people who think a trans athlete is cheating the system, or that gays are knocking on locker rooms. It’s clear but the vast majority of people now know a strange person, and whether they accept it or not, they are forced to contact them, which is the real starting point for education and growth.

“In those moments, I think, then the ‘allies’ can shine. Helping a friend, being by his side, talking in a room full of negatives, throwing out a social media post, basically doing what one would do. Best friend – an ally to everyone It can strengthen the truth about us: we all have blood, we all cry, we all laugh, we all die, we all want love, we all want to be understood. they can “.

According to Hackner, there are many ways for people to celebrate pride.

“Pride is about responding to that little voice that screams in your head, when one of Kelly Clarkson’s lights up, or when your favorite movie icon returns, or when the perfect beer matches the beer’s sunset; it’s expressing boundless joy,” Hackner said. “Pride should be celebrated as best you can. You don’t need rainbows; the gentleman knows they’re exaggerated. All you need to do is answer and celebrate the call in your body. Pride is a firework with a great soundtrack. It’s pride. It’s a wonderful ice cream on a hot day. Pride is a 10-hour line dance and knows all the choreography. I want to see that special. “

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