Walker Chaffin isn’t quite sure how he got into tennis as a kid. Nobody in his family played but somewhere along the way, he picked it up and it’s become a big part of his life.
As a member of the Capital Tennis Association — a gay D.C.-area league of about 300 players — for about 22 years, he just finished organizing his fifth charity tournament, the “Capital Classic,” for the group last month. This year’s recipients are the Washington AIDS Partnership and the Team D.C. scholarships. In past years, proceeds have gone to Food & Friends, Whitman-Walker, the Mautner Project and others. Over the years, Chaffin says the tournaments have raised about $100,000 for these groups.
For his efforts, he’s being honored Saturday night at the Team D.C. Champion Awards at the HRC building (teamdc.org).
“Well, you know, it’s a surprise and quite an honor,” Chaffin says. “My first thought was, ‘Who nominated me?’ but they’re very secretive about that. I’m happy we’ve been able to raise so much money. That’s why I wanted to do it, so it’s just a very nice surprise.”
The 46-year-old Alexandria, Va., native works as a law librarian by day but is active in the Association and also teaches tennis on the side. He’s been in the area his entire life except for two years of college in Minneapolis.
He and partner Brian Peteritas met last year at the Capital Classic.
Chaffin lives in Columbia Heights and enjoys, besides tennis of course, movies, TV and hanging out with friends in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out since 1989. I am extremely lucky because my mother made it clear early on that I was loved no matter what so coming out was not difficult for me as it was for others. Thanks Mom!
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Martina Navratilova — she is a great role model and one of the greatest players of all time. She was brave enough to come out well before others were doing it.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Present – Nellie’s. Past – Tracks. Where else could you dance and/or play volleyball at 2 in the morning?
Describe your dream wedding.
Saying “I do” when it’s legal for all to marry.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
Martin Luther King’s assassination and 9-11.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I would say seeing Madonna in concert for the first time. I waited in line overnight in 20 below temperatures in Minnesota to get those tickets and it was so worth it.
On what do you insist?
Respect, a great sense of humor and two DVRs.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I don’t post very often. My last post was “Paris was amazing, on my way to Barcelona” back in May.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Game Set Match”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing for myself but it would be fun to give it to Rick Santorum and the owner of Chick-Fil-A.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Those we have loved and lost are still with us.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
I don’t think I’m qualified to give them advice. I would, however, like to thank them for all their hard work.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The people I love, a winning lottery ticket or a chance to hit with Roger Federer.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we’re not interested in or good at sports.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Big Eden,” “A Single Man” and “Brokeback Mountain.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I can’t say I’d mind winning an Oscar or the U.S. Open.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
To buy up all of the Microsoft stock.
I was born here and have always loved it. I’ve almost relocated a few times but the life I have here and the friends I’ve made make it impossible to leave.