Aathletics hasn’t always been a place where Jared Horman felt comfortable, he shared; but thanks to Stonewall Sports, he found a way to really enjoy the games while connecting with other queer people and allies.

Jared Horman, center, Stonewall Sports

“We can kind of get this thing that was terrifying to us as kids back,” said Horman, who was first introduced to Stone sports in 2015 while working in Charlotte, North Carolina. “A lot of us have been bullied or just felt uncomfortable growing up in a sports space, so having the chance to truly live in that space itself – that makes the experience [of Stonewall Sports] it’s much more stimulating and fun.

Stonewall Sports was founded in 2010 as a national non-profit sports organization for the LGBTQ + community and allies; it now has 22 chapters – with leagues in kickball, volleyball, bowling and more – in various locations across the United States. The organization’s mission is to raise funds for other local nonprofits while building inclusive communities, according to their website.

“Stone wall [Sports] was a space that introduced me to queer culture in a way I had never experienced before in college, ”Horman said. “It was the first time that I had befriended a gay couple who had been together forever. It was the first time that I had befriended a trans person. I met a drag queen and I really am. fell in love with the drag.

Click on here to learn more about Stonewall Sports.

Back in Kansas City in 2016, Horman knew he wanted to start a Stonewall Sports chapter at KC, he shared.

“I reached out to the senior commissioner in Charlotte and he gave me really good advice – he said, ‘Spend two years really getting to know the community, making friends and connections, to find out if it’s something that Kansas City would really enjoy, ”Horman recalls.

Seeing great potential for Stonewall Sports at KC, Horman worked with Ricardo Salabbaria and Eric Thomas to launch the KC chapter in the summer of 2019. Their goal: to sign eight kickball teams, Horman said, but his expectations were largely exceeded. with 14 full teams. register.

“It really shows how much the queer community wanted some sort of social activity like this,” he continued, noting that the Kansas City chapter has a kickball league in the summer and a dodgeball league in the summer. winter.

With the 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19, registrations for Stonewall Sports KC’s second season in 2021 have nearly doubled from around 200 players to 380 players across 22 teams.

As Stonewall Sports KC continues to grow, the organization aims to expand into volleyball, pickleball and any other sports league players show a major interest in, Horman said.

Amazeballs vs. One Hit Wonders, Stonewall Sports

Amazeballs vs. One Hit Wonders, Stonewall Sports

Diversity within the LGBTQ + community

Although Stonewall Sports’ first season resulted in a surprisingly high turnout, diversity within the membership was limited, Horman said – noting that around 80% of players were gay and cisgender men.

Ryan Fortney, Charlie Hustle, Stonewall Sports

Ryan Fortney, Charlie Hustle, Stonewall Sports

“We’ve worked really hard to recruit more queer women, trans players and non-binary players,” Horman said. “It was a big goal between our first season and this current season. Now we’re at about 58% cis, gay men and 42% gay women, trans gamers and non-binary gamers. ”

“Whether it’s gender identification, sexual orientation or ethnicity, we continue to see growth,” added Ryan Fortney, who sits on the Stonewall Sports KC board of directors as Marketing Director. “However, the facts are that this is not enough growth, and we need to keep working on it. … We want to make sure that what we see on the field is a true representation of the people in and around Kansas City.

In addition to recruiting more queer women to serve on the Stonewall Sports board leadership, the Kansas City Chapter has partnered with Woody’s – a local LGBTQ + bar that hosts parties dedicated to queer women, Horman noted.

“This partnership has had a great influence on our ability to change and diversify the demographics,” continued Horman.

Stonewall Sports KC has also developed scholarship programs to reach and welcome all people from all socio-economic backgrounds. The LGBTQ + community includes a vast array of humans with their own unique stories, Fortney said, and everyone deserves a place to connect.

“As a gay man, I know what it feels like to be ‘other’ – to be seen as something different from everyone else when you just want to feel normal,” Fortney explained. “While the gay community is increasingly accepted, there are still other members within our community who are still marginalized. [Stonewall Sports] It really opened my eyes and helped me become a more compassionate person, just by pushing me out of my bubble where I usually live.

Partnership with Charlie Hustle

Charlie hustle – maker of the iconic KC Heart shirt – is the main sponsor of the 2021 season of Stonewall Sports KC, said Fortney, who also works as a store manager for the clothing company’s retail store on the Country Club Plaza.

“I started with Charlie Hustle the same month I started with Stonewall Sports in June 2019,” said Fortney. “It was the first year [Charlie Hustle] released their KC heart pride, which has been one of our most popular sellers. … We have these “Big Idea Days” every two months, and everyone presents what they think the company should do next. This year myself and a few other people said, “We need to partner with an LGBTQ + organization for this collection, and we need to expand it.”

The partnership came about naturally, Horman said, with the Stonewall Sports community and the Charlie Hustle community embracing each other and sharing their values.

Click on here to discover the Charlie Hustle Pride collection.

As part of the new partnership, the Stonewall Sports Board of Directors and Charlie Hustle staff plan to face off in a 4 p.m. kickball match on Wednesday, June 30 at Gillham Park.

Douglas Brown throws at teammate Dillon Klahr

Non-profit partners

With a focus on giving back to the community, Stonewall Sports KC’s primary nonprofit partners include: Greater Kansas City AIDS Services Foundation and the Kansas City Center for Inclusion.

“Stonewall is a volunteer run organization, so no board member makes any money. The main goal is community building, ”Horman said. “We took part in the AIDS WALK and assisted the Center for Inclusion with many updates and moves to the space.

Stonewall Sports kickball league is played from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays at Gillham Park.

“We want the whole community to come forward,” said Fortney. “It’s a great community event, especially for where we are at with the COVID pandemic. It’s outdoors, a lot of fun, and full of really great people.

This story is made possible thanks to the support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, non-partisan foundation that seeks to create inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-driven economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, tackle root causes and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability. , mobility and prosperity.

For more information visit www.kauffman.org and connect with us at www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

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