As we become older, it’s no longer enough to participate for the sake of playing. We need to incorporate our personal identities into our achievements and passions. Perhaps, this is why athletics so often become the battleground between acceptance and alienation. In our very diverse community we hear all too often of what happens to athletes who choose to come out to their peers, which can be an experience of pain. Queer athletes put this much and more on the line when they choose to, or are forced to, come forward. This is why we need to appreciate their bravery, and respect the strength it must take to simply be themselves. Here are just a few local athletes who have risen to this challenge. Their ages, sports of choice, and experience may all be different, but their importance to us is equal and quite immeasureable.
You’re in pictorial for running. What types of running do you do? Do you compete? I run marathons mostly, have completed 4 and am training for my fifth in Eugene this April. I compete, but only with myself; that’s the great thing about running — you don’t have to be an elite athlete to always push for better and faster.
How does being out affect your playing (if at all)? Being out doesn’t affect my playing at all. All my teammates, past and present, have no problem with my sexual orientation. When I came out to my high school teammates, they just chuckled and said, “well, duh.” And lacrosse is a pretty gay sport (laughs), I’m pretty sure lacrosse players are assumed gay until proven otherwise.
For those who have little knowledge of how karate works — are you part of a team or league? I studied Taekwondo and Karate. There are different national “leagues” or “organizations” if you will, but I studied specifically at smaller local schools with about 50 – 60 students per school. Some schools are accredited by different organizations and compete in different sponsored tournaments within an organization around the nation or world.
You are in the article for wakeboarding. How has it impacted your personal health? The camaraderie that is around wakeboarding has provided me the opportunity to be part of a sport that pushes personal development of mind and body. Every time you jump out of the boat into the water your body reacts — muscles become tense and your adrenaline levels jump. Wakeboarding takes concentration; your mind is always thinking about waves, boats, speed, edge check, not face planting. By the end of the run your legs, arms, abdomen and back are tense and you get the feeling of self accomplishment that mind and body experience like action sports so often provide.
You’re in the article for basketball. What team(s) do you play for? I currently play small forward for the Portland Trail Blazers (see my jersey?!). That is a good answer, right? I am currently not playing on a team. If that was a requirement, I didn’t get the message, but I have played competitively and leisurely my whole life, in high school and intramurals in college. In my ripe age, I mostly just play for leisure and love of the game.
What league are you in? Is it friendly or serious, or perhaps a mix of both? We belong to the nationwide women’s contact football league — the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA). It’s a serious league with around 65 teams nationwide.
Is there anything special or unique for you when it comes to the overlap of your identity and your sport? I think of myself as a gay man about as much as I think of myself as a soccer player. They are both important parts of who I am, but they certainly don’t define me. They overlap in the way that all other aspects of my identity have overlapped to create the person I am today.
You’re in pictorial for rugby. What team do you play on, and what’s the league like? I play for the ORSU (Oregon Rugby Sports Union) Jesters, Portland’s premier rugby club and one of the more storied sporting organizations in the Pacific Northwest. We are able to field two competitive teams that play in Division II and Division III of the Pacific Northwest Rugby Union. I play for the latter side, which is a mix of aged veterans and inexperienced younger players. I love this mix, as it has allowed me to learn from some amazing players from around the world that have decided to wrap up their careers with us.
You’re in pictorial for kettlebell lifting. Can you give us a brief description of what that is? The SKOGG system is a combination of cardio and weight training in one workout that is all done by using kettlebells. This system allows you to increase your strength, flexibility and power. I realized that I was burning more calories in an hour than any other workout I tried in the past. §
Note: Not all models were available for this interview.
About Horace Long
Horace Long is Just Out's Art Director and main photographer. He has been a freelance commercial photographer since 1997 when he graduated from NYC's Pratt Institute with a BFA in Photography. His work has been published in numerous magazines, books as well as CD covers for musicians. Although a native of the barrier islands of both Carolinas, he now calls Portland home. He also has an MBA from Marylhurst University. His studio is located in close-in SE Portland.