LGBT sports leagues and teams are enjoying a boom in Nashville. With the growth of the HotMess League, which features volleyball, dodgeball, and kickball, and the success of local LGBT teams, such as the Nashville Grizzlies who recently hosted a major international tournament, the Bingham Cup, there is a lot of interest in the community right now. And there’s a hunger for more.
This summer, Sammy Hann, who plays with the Grizzlies, and his boyfriend Chris Housman, who has played on the HotMess league, decided it would be fun to add basketball to the LGBT sports offerings in Nashville.
“We started to talk about how nice it would be if HotMess would branch out to basketball,” Hann said. But in the meanwhile, the two of them decided to pursue basketball by another route. “Some friends got together and talked about putting together a gay team to compete in the straight league.”
“That was on Tuesday,” Hann said. “We talked and got together, and I sent out two emails to East Nashville businesses telling them we were trying to organize a gay basketball team. I sent one to Kustom Thrills Tattoo’s Chris Saint Clark and one to the general manager of The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden. They were like, ‘East Nashville? I'm in!’ Both gave money almost immediately.”
The local support was a big help. “That was real big for us to get some stuff paid for,” Hann said. “It can be expensive to get started, especially so quickly. It helped with the cost of jerseys and things like that.”
Meanwhile Housman, who is also the team’s captain, worked with the Mid State Sports Leagues to get the team, “Straight Outta the Closet”, registered. Within ten days,” Hann said, “we had a roster of ten guys together and got registered. We had our first game that very next Tuesday.”
In their first season, the team had a solid record against some more established teams, finishing fifth of eight and going 3-4 in the season. “We played in the first game in the tournament,” Hann said, “and got recognition from the other teams, who said how cool it was. One of the refs posted online about having refereed for a gay team and how well we did. Friends and people came out to watch, and people started hearing about what we are trying to do.”
The group does plan to continue, perhaps playing two seasons a year. “We are going to try to register for winter season with the same group of guys,” Hann explained. “We are going to try to do winter and summer. We have a couple of guys asking to get on the team if there are openings. But we aren’t gonna be cutting people. We’re just a group of friends trying to do an experiment to see what a group of guys can do in a ‘straight league.’ We had fun and had some success, so that's not a bad thing.”
And who knows, maybe they’ll inspire other groups of friends to “come out” and play?
Back (Left to Right): Coach Mark Pilkington, Sean Sims, Heath Jones, Johnny Rush, Mark Pierce, Tim Barry
Front (Left to Right): Clifford Carpenter, Chris Housman, Sammy Hann, Damon Reid, Taylor Tavarus