The Gays of the Gridiron

By Laura Latzko, Aug. 27, 2014.

Each year, as sure as the changing seasons, the National Gay Flag Football League hosts Gay Bowl, its annual flag football championship tournament.

Equally predictable is the dedication and preparation the Phoenix Hellraisers put forth as the head out to represent Arizona in one of the sports most highly regarded events.

This year, Gay Bowl XIV is expected to draw as many as 40 teams and up to 650 players, from cities across the United States and Canada, to Philadelphia Oct. 9-12.

Thirty-two players, representing the Phoenix Hellraisers Maroon and Gold teams, have already been practicing twice a week since July.

According to Jared Garduno, commissioner for both the Phoenix Gay Flag Football League and the National Gay Flag Football League, summer conditioning allows the two teams to work on strategies for game play during the national tournament.

 “In order to compete at the highest level, you can’t slack off in your conditioning,” he said. “Going to the gym is different than going to the field and working in a football conditioning environment.”

While the players consider themselves one unit at tournaments, they hold individual practices and scrimmage against each other during joint practices. And, to determine which team each player was placed on, Garduno said players underwent a tryout process that included passing, defensive and conditioning drills.

“It is not to compete to beat each other but to make each other better,” Garduno said. “We want to show that even though we are two different teams, we are a family. We are showing our Phoenix pride.”

A Hell of a History

The Gay Bowl began in 2002 with three teams — Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco — and the tournament has grown to 32 men’s and 10 women’s teams competing each year. A team has represented Phoenix at every Gay Bowl since 2005.

Last year, following Gay Bowl XIII in Scottsdale, both Hellraisers teams finished in the A bracket. Which, Garduno added, means they’ll be starting out in a more competitive bracket this year.

“It is more intense and more competitive,” he said. “We are looking to move up in the ranks and try to bring home another title.”

Garduno said Phoenix is one of only three cities with two teams in the A division, and the Hellraisers are plan to further their reputation for strong play as they face the best teams in the country.

Joel Horton, a player in the Phoenix league since last year, said he’s already taken note of the Hellraisers reputation and seen players push the limits to become better players. 

“There’s definitely pressure because people do have high expectations because of how the Hellraisers have done in the past,” Horton said. “We want to live up to it.”

Steven Griswold, a Hellraisers member who has been playing flag football for nine years, said during the Gay Bowl, he and other players want to represent their leagues and cities positively.

“You really become competitive, trying to do your best and bring something home to your city and your sponsors,” Griswold said. “You try to make them proud.”

Griswold, who played football in high school, said Gay Bowl allows players to compete against, and connect with, other skilled gay football players and learn how to strengthen the Phoenix league.

While winning is the ultimate goal, both players agree the camaraderie of tournament experience is invaluable.

“To be part of a community of guys who all had the same interest and passion for what we loved to do and be able to be open about ourselves … was the most amazing part of it,” Griswold said of his first Gay Bowl. “I felt I could be myself and comfortable with who I was around my peers.”

As a seasoned player who has participated in the Gay Bowl with Phoenix and San Diego teams, Griswold plans to take on a mentoring role with rookies at the national tournament as well as in the upcoming season.

Keep readingShow less
WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less