I played dodgeball and kickball in elementary school, but started competitively at the age of 25 in 2015. In dodgeball my strengths are throwing hard and fast, but also sniping when an opposing player isn’t looking from across the court. I love dodgeball because the constant adrenaline rush is amazing and it is a sport where you truly need to work with your teammates in perfect sync to win it all. The best dodgeball teams out there are the ones that trust each other implicitly. In kickball I excel more in playing outfield and then bunting as a kicker.
Both leagues I’m in are LGBT and I love it. I joined them initially to meet new people and make LGBT friends because I didn’t have many, but then I quickly got into the games competitively and now travel to compete. I have played in local NYC leagues twice before and while it was fun, I gravitate more to our LGBT league because it is nice to meet people who have more in common with me than just the love of the game. Now I am also the Director of Dodgeball for NYC’s local LGBT league.
It is good to have separate LGBT leagues because it allows a safe space for LGBT athletes to play the game (both socially and competitively) where they will not need to worry about being judged by others for their sexual orientation. These players can not only build their abilities but also their confidence to then in turn compete in non-LGBT leagues if they choose.
Personally, I want people to know that while I am proud of being gay, it doesn’t define who I am. I am an athlete who happens to also be romantically attracted to people of the same gender as me. But I’m still an athlete first!
Don’t let your sexuality define you as an athlete. You are just as much of a competitor as anyone else you play with/against and at the end of the day your abilities on the field/court/etc will speak louder than your personal life.
The way that Dodgeball and Kickball work is that teams are made randomly every season, which is another reason why I like this league a lot. However, we do occasionally do special mini-tournaments where we can make our own teams for a few weeks. My main team is composed of men, women, and even someone who doesn’t identify as either one but more gender fluid. Also transgender athletes would be totally welcome in our team.
I have been fortunate to have a positive experience growing up openly gay in the U.S. I think it is great that we have a lot of LGBT leagues and national tournaments popping up, but I think it would be even better to see some LGBT teams/athletes excelling in leagues not specialized as LGBT. Fortunately, more and more athletes are coming out which is great because it means more role models for younger LGBT people.
When I was a kid, I didn’t have any idols I looked up to, because being openly gay was not as widely accepted and popularized so it wasn’t like I had many options for gay men in the media to see. The only ones that were portrayed were the overly flamboyant types so it did make me hesitate to embrace who I was because I didn’t necessarily want to be pre-judged before someone new got to know me.
I want people to know that while I am proud of being gay, it doesn’t define who I am. I am an athlete who happens to also be romantically attracted to people of the same gender as me. But I’m still an athlete first!
Yet, young people definitely need positive examples in their lives. Even having just one person that they can closely identify with can give them the hope/confidence that when they too become adults they can live fulfilling lives doing whatever it is that makes them happy (sports or otherwise).
So to young athletes I would say: Don’t let your sexuality define you as an athlete. You are just as much of a competitor as anyone else you play with/against and at the end of the day your abilities on the field/court/etc will speak louder than your personal life. And if others try to bring you down over that, do your best to brush it off and use the sport you play as a way of responding with your dominance.
Follow Alex’s journey on Instagram: @alexwyee