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Series time
by Roger Brigham

Check out any of the local bars during the next few weeks and you are likely to see as many softball jerseys in the joint as you normally would expect to see on the playing fields. Teams are deep into fundraising efforts for their trips to the Gay Softball World Series. The women's Amateur Sports Alliance of North America series opens Tuesday, August 23 in Philadelphia; opening ceremony for the men's North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance series is Monday, August 29 in Chicago.

Representing the San Francisco Gay Softball League in Philadelphia will be women's division winner Inferno Blaze. In Chicago will be Club Hitmen, A Division; Bombers and SF Fury, B Division; SF Hustlers and Treat C, C Division; and SF Pumas and SF Storm, D Division.

"We won the D Division in Dallas in 2003," Jason DeWolfe, who plays shortstop for the Hustlers, said, "but a team from Tennessee protested that two of our players were too good to be in the division. Now we're going to try to win the C Division."

It may take a village to raise a child but it takes a mess of bars to raise money for softball teams.

"In 2006 for the Gay Games we needed to raise about $25,000 in one year through the Powerhouse," DeWolfe said. "This time we're trying to raise about half that amount in half that time. We get so much support from the bars in San Francisco."

This weekend alone, the Hitmen will have a 6 to 10 p.m. happy hour Friday, August 5 at Trigger; the Bombers will be selling Jell-O shots and raffle tickets from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, August 7 at the Lookout; and the Hustlers will have a $10 beer bust from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, August 7 at the 500 Club.

DeWolfe, 42, has been a jock most of his life, having played such sports as tennis, baseball, and basketball.

"I'm the happiest when I hit the ball, hit it solidly," he said. "The energy goes through your whole body. I love the thrill of throwing someone out or getting a solid base hit. When you're all playing as a team, it really heightens the excitement."

Sharing that excitement with teammates can be problematic at the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series, where association bylaws prohibit the inclusion of more than two "heterosexual" players per squad even though the same bylaws say NAGAAA exists to promote competition "for all persons regardless of age, sexual orientation or preference." The bylaws defines heterosexual as non-LGBT, but does not, for instance, address whether those individuals need to be out, need to be sexually active, can be closeted, might be intersex or might have no sexual drive at all.

As has been widely reported, a San Francisco squad playing in the championship game of the 2008 Gay Softball World Series was disqualified when a protest review committee conducted interviews of some protested players and ruled that three men of color were not gay. A lawsuit over NAGAAA's actions is currently being fought in federal court.

"I do find it funny that during the regular season, it's all inclusive – anybody can play," DeWolfe, who is in a relationship with a man, said. "It's not an issue during the regular season in San Francisco. It's great to see straight families come out and play.

"I've played in sports my whole life. It's really a cool experience when we have friends who bring in relatives who are straight. They were really hesitant at first to be part of the team, but then they really enjoy it," added DeWolfe. "It really shouldn't matter whether you're straight or not: you still have to fall into the competitive guidelines. I'm certainly not afraid straight people are going to come over and take over the gay leagues. As I'm getting older, I am feeling more comfortable. I could give a shit whether somebody is gay or straight."

Ironically, the Chicago series will have unprecedented outreach with mainstream sports. Although Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, has resisted invitations from event organizers to be involved to help repair some of the casual homophobic PR damage done by White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham and Bulls center Joakim Noah, the Chicago Cubs signed on as an early sponsor; straight ally Ben Cohen will be a featured speaker at the opening ceremonies; and efforts were continuing to secure the involvement of straight ally Hudson Taylor.

Information on the Hustlers fundraisers can be found through its Facebook page or by visiting http://sfhustlers2011.ticketleap.com/2011-sf-hustlers-world-series-fundraiser. Schedules of all San Francisco team fundraisers may be found at http://www.sfgsl.org. Information on the NAGAAA series is available at http://www.chicagoseries2011.com and the ASANA series is at http://www.bringthelove2011.org.

Mitcham, Skjellerup named Gay Games ambassadors

Olympians Matthew Mitcham and Blake Skjellerup have been named Gay Games ambassadors, joining 20 other celebrities as advocates of the quadrennial multisport and cultural festival.

Shortly after coming out in 2008, Mitcham of Australia rocked the diving world by winning gold in Beijing. Skjellerup came out shortly after competing in the Vancouver Winter Olympics in short-track speed skating.

Pride Track and Field Meet

The San Francisco Pride Track and Field Meet will be held Saturday, August 13, at San Francisco State University's Cox Stadium. Online registration is available at http://www.pridemeet.org.

Giants LGBT Night Out is sold out

The San Francisco Giants LGBT Night Out at AT&T Park, Monday, August 29 is sold out. The World Series Champion Giants will face the Chicago Cubs in a 7 p.m. game. LGBT Night ticket holders will get a special commemorative baseball cap and have a pre-game party. Partial proceeds go to the local LGBT community.

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