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Bisexual Softball Players Sue After 'Gay World Series' Discrimination


Three bisexual softball players are suing the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance after it deemed them not gay enough to play in the Gay World Series and stripped their team of its second place finish. The lawsuit accuses the organization of violating Washington state anti-discrimination laws.

The Seattle Times reports:

"The three plaintiffs — Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ — played on a team called D2 that qualified for the 2008 Gay Softball World Series, which is organized by the alliance. The alliance's rules say that each World Series team can have no more than two heterosexual players. According to the lawsuit, a competing team accused D2 of violating that rule. Each of the three plaintiffs was called into a conference room in front of more than 25 people, and was asked 'personal and intrusive questions' about his sexual attractions and desires, purportedly to determine if the player was heterosexual or gay, the lawsuit alleges. The alliance has no category or definition for bisexual or transgender people in its rules, the plaintiff's attorney said. At one point during the proceedings, the lawsuit alleges, one of the plaintiffs was told: 'This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series.' The alliance ruled the three men were 'nongay,' stripped D2 of its second-place finish and recommended that the three players be suspended from participating in the World Series for a year, according to the suit."

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is assisting the three plaintiffs with their lawsuit.

Top photo: "Steven Apilado (kneeling, second from right), Jon Russ (standing, first player from left in front row), and LaRon Charles (standing, center player in front row) with their team during the 2007 season."

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  1. I played for Oil Can Harry's Oilers, in the San Francisco Community Softball League. The C.S.L. was the first Gay sponsored league in the country,with 6 teams. They were originally called The"Gay"C.S.L.,however, they changed their name, because many of the players worked for Fortune "500" companies and feared they could lose their jobs if their names wound up in the gay papers... it was changed. In the 3rd year, when I joined, several teams "recruited" non-gay players who worked in the community or knew players. The pennant became a coveted trophy... and teams began to invite straight players to join them. In 1977, a team made up of mostly non-gay players... The Badlands. The first Gay World Series was held in S.F. and had only 2 teams, one from S.F. and the other from N.Y.,When the Badlands failed to show up for a banquet in their honor... many gay members decided to form a new league. The Gay Softball League, for the 1978 Season. However, the invitation for that year's Gay World Series went to the C.S.L., There was an incentive for the Championship team... to represent S.F. at the G.W.S. in New York. There were 19 teams vying for the honor. The season began, with Mayor Moscone throwing out the first pitchin front of 2,000 fans. The preamble of the C.S.L. said it welcomed all players who respected all the "lifest Our team had straights, including a City firemen, a doctor, a lawyer and other non-gay professionals. Half way through the '78 season, a meeting took place in Toronto, and it was decided by the Commissioners from 4 leagues (S.F.abstaining) that a 80% gay-20% straight player rule be put into effect. It should be noted... at the time the invitation went OUT prior to the beginning of the season... there was no quota rule. Also in California, it was a time of Anita Bryant, and the Briggs Initiative on the State ballot, that would fire all gay teachers if it passed. The C.S.L. was known for bringing gays and straights together... the non-gays players brought their parents,girlfriends,wives, children and friends to the games... and each weekend, those games drew hundreds and hundreds of fans. I was the Oil Can Harry's team representative... and when the Oiler's won the Pennant... over $25,000 dollars was raised to fly the team to N.Y. and they were accompanied by many of their fans, as well as a "Citation" from Mayor Moscone, praising the team for its diversity and comparing them to the great diversity that made up the City of San Francisco. Our Team played in the annual "Peach-Fuzz" game and the Oiler's won in front of 8,000 fans at
    Lang Field. However, the team that came in 2nd, called N.Y. to complain about the Oilers, having too many non-gays on their roster. By the time our plane landed in the Big Apple... we were tossed OUT of the tournament. I notified the associated Press and it became a wire service story, and mentioned on Walter Cronkite's CBS Evening News, Paul Harvey's national news-radio broadcast and hundreds of cities in the U.S.A.! When the team came back to S.F. there were hundreds of well wishers at the airport to greet us. The following year, the Gay Softball league received the invitation to the Gay World Series. Within a year, that league also had teams with more than 20% non-gay players( including the team that complained about the Oiler's having too many non-gays). Here it is, more than 30 years later... they are still fighting over the fact that too many straight players are on some team's rosters. I posted on my blog... www.jerrypritikin.blogspot.com images and the complete story of the 1978 season,AS WELL AS THE "CITATION" FROM MAYOR MOSCONE. Please read that... and remember, he was a great friend of our gay community... and a few months later, along with Harvey Milk, he was assassinated.

    Posted by: jerry pritikin | Apr 22, 2010 8:25:13 AM

  2. Paul --- Thanks for the lesson...and your wrong. They are not bi...they cheated and want money. If you were not there...than I would drop that argument.

    Trace ---- Question then:

    Does that mean that the over 50 leagues should be sued by anyone under 50 who can not play for discrimination? ---- The answer is no...because it is ok to have such discriminatory rules in order to protect people.

    Does that mean that co-ed leagues should be sued for having rules about when guys have to bat or how many guys or gals are allowed on a team? No --- It does not.

    If you want to argue over the definition of protection than that is fine....but safety is safety....Gay people can play in the gay leagues because it is safe for them there. You take away this rule and all of the sudden within a short period of time the league will become a straight majority because of the competition nature.

    The pool for straight players is much larger than that for gay players.....and that is reality..so there are always going to be a larger pool of straight players to draw from.

    Posted by: softballer | Apr 22, 2010 3:20:37 PM

  3. Also Trace:

    There is a big difference in terms of the straight guys who support us in the league and those that are soley there to win.

    These guys stuck to their wives and girlfriends and never hung out with the other gay players or teams.

    The majority of the straight guys tend to do so and are loved very much in the gay leagues. So while I understand your thought on that...it was not the case in this situation.

    Posted by: softballer | Apr 22, 2010 3:46:00 PM

  4. Kind of begs the question: what is the standard to determine whether someone is gay or not?

    This happened in my workplace where a guy said he was gay (even though everyone knew he wasn't) so he could get "protected status" as a federal employee. He did it because he was about to be investigated for falsifying attendance records. Of course, as soon as he "came out" all of the questions about his hours stopped. How could they prove he was not gay? They can't.

    But it made me think about how people determine someone is gay for anything, like a softball league. To me, it reeks of discrimination to ask questions about someones personal life if they are gay or straight. Of course, the guy from work just used a clever ploy to get out of trouble, and now he is the diversity poster child where I work.

    Posted by: myke | Apr 22, 2010 7:46:25 PM

  5. I remember when I was younger(oh, so long ago!)and thought when playing volley ball,I just kept the ball in play, until the other teams started to spike the ball... and then I realized, the game that included competition made it more exciting to play. When most of the gay leagues began... many of the gay players did not know where right field was, and that included some right fielders! I know some gays were mad... because they sat on the bench for most of the games, while straights joined the league. It was at that time... softball became a competitive sport. The team I played on, also played in the S.F. City League. We thought of ourselves as softball players first, and the sexual preference didn't come into play. In Fact, the gay league became one of the best competitive leagues in the city, and that is why so many straights wanted to play in our league. We were similar to the old Negro Leagues... because at that time...black players could not play in the majors. Today, there are no more black only leagues.
    Some gays felt, that straights did not support the gay bars,thus they should not
    play in a gay sponsored league. But times have changed... and so have the gay leagues.
    It is good, that straight players want to play in our leagues, and I am sure if the gay players wanted to play in straight leagues, they could just as long as they qualified as a player, based on how their stats contributed to a team, as a player on that team. As I look at it... My world is not all gay. When it comes to politics, I do not vote for someone just because they are gay... I vote for the best qualified candidate, and when I play softball, I use the same formula. This is the 21 Century...
    and it's great to have the best of 2 worlds
    on the field and off the field... and just play ball, without any quota system.

    Posted by: jerry pritikin | Apr 23, 2010 9:28:45 AM

  6. hey - I was disappointed deeply by the attitude among some gay men here.

    My orientation is bisexual (pansexual?), but my activities are mainly gay. Why? Because gay men "generally" understand me better and are more accepting.

    I understand that men who are barely obviously gay might be a stretch, but by some narrow definition of gay you put yourself in a precarious position of not having any members in a baseball league. I personally doubt if all men who identify as gay are fully gay, but that they might be closet bisexuals. There is a silent and pervasive queer bias among some gay men that really sucks (not in the good way).

    Yeah lesbians for helping out the bi guys.

    Oh - yeah - I was married with kids once too - still have kids. That does not cheapen or lessen my commitment to any man in any way.

    Do I hope they win the court case? No - I hope the league decides to allow players to self identify and just get over the ridiculous way this happened. I hope that the guys after making their point just let it go.

    Posted by: Jason | Apr 23, 2010 11:23:35 AM

  7. HOW CAN WE DISCRIMINATE AGAINST BISEXUAL MEN WHEN WE FIGHT FOR THE SAME RIGHTS???!?! HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT? thats exactly like gays being kicked out of the military for being gay, and here we are campaigning for the repeal of DADT. DONT DISCRIMINATE BECAUSE OF WHAT SOMEONES DICK GETS HARD OVER, WHO GIVES A SHIT.

    Posted by: gary | Sep 2, 2010 4:42:13 PM

  8. Just one more thought. Back in the early 1950's I quit a Chicago high school, because I has "those" tendencies,and then it was taboo just to know someone queer(that is what we were called )let alone be gay. A few years ago,I was given a ticket to a stage play a the Walter Payton College Prep High School here in Chicago. In the Playbill, several of the students listed in their "Bio's", that they belonged to the Gay/Straight Alliance.

    It's nice to know that kids no longer have to leave high school just to be themselves. It's so fine that they have the support of their teachers,parents and friends. It would be wishful thinking if all cities,large and small could provide this great after school program. The same goes for Chicago. Today our city is gay friendly.We have elected openly and qualified Alderman. The Cubs has had "OUT at the Ballpark Day" for 10 years.The Chicago Historical Museum has an ongoing OUT series that showcases the contributions gays made to Chicago and elsewhere. The Gay Pride Parade draws over 400,000 people. We hosted the Gay Games that brought over 100,000 athletes and fans to Chicago.This year The Gay World Series will be taking place bringing with over a hundred teams and their fans coming to Chicago. I hope that the quota system will no longer be in effect.

    Posted by: Jerry Pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher | Jun 3, 2011 7:12:35 AM

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