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Confession: I’ve never really been into team sports. But I’m VERY into gay pride celebrations, tacos, and badass female athletes.
So when Nissan, a major sponsor of the annual Gay Softball World Series, invited me to Austin, Texas, to write about the 40th anniversary of the games, I was stoked.
As you might imagine, the Gay Softball World Series has seen a whole lot of change since it began in 1976. What started as a small, casual competition between the handful of gay softball teams that existed in New York and San Francisco has evolved into a competitive, six-day event with more than 185 teams from 43 cities across the United States and Canada. This week, more than 5,000 players, coaches, and fans came to Austin for the games.
During the 80s and 90s, the players were sometimes greeted by anti-gay protestors or even banned from playing in certain cities or on certain fields. Now, though, the Gay Softball World Series enjoys major corporate sponsorship from companies like Nissan and Prudential. And cities like Austin compete to host the games by submitting bids years in advance. (Start training on your own time with Women's Health's Ignite workout from Next Fitness Star Nikki Metzger.)
The teams at the Gay Softball World Series are comprised of both men and women, and gay, straight, bisexual, and transgender players are all welcome. Most of the women I met say they live and breathe softball; they play for the gay league, women’s teams, “straight” recreational teams, and even local church teams just to get in as much practice and play as possible.
Here are some of their stories: