When Jeremy Glasser went to his first Gay Games in Sydney, Australia in 2002, he competed in both bowling and tennis. Considering both sports run the entire week of the Games, it was a lofty undertaking. Added to that challenge was the issue of dragging his bowling ball and tennis racket half way around the world.
Next month, Glasser will compete in his third Gay Games in Cleveland, his first on American soil, and will limit himself to one sport.
“For Cleveland, I chose to compete in bowling because I can just throw my bowling ball in the trunk of my car and drive there,” Glasser says. “For Paris in 2018, I will probably choose tennis since it will be easier to transport my racket.”
Another reason for choosing bowling in Cleveland is that he wants to defend his gold medal in team bowling that was won in the 2010 Cologne Gay Games.
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Glasser played the obligatory little kids sports such as T-ball and soccer. In junior high, he coached volleyball but most of his focus was on academics.
After moving to Washington, where he works as a paralegal and is an alumni of George Mason University, Glasser and his partner at the time were looking for something to do outside of the bar scene. They joined an LBGT bowling league in 1996 and Glasser has continued to bowl with the Capital Area Rainbowlers Association (CARA).
The bowling led to a season with the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League and then the Capital Tennis Association. Glasser is currently a member of both CARA and the Association.
“I bowl in a CARA league during the winters and play on the CTA league in the summers,” he says. “Bowling is my social outlet and tennis is my exercise.”
At the Gay Games next month, Glasser will compete in the singles, doubles and team events in bowling. He recently used the Liberty Bell bowling tournament in Philadelphia as a tune-up and will continue to practice bowling weekly along with his tennis play leading up to the Games.
Glasser has a few reasons for staying in the sport of bowling for almost two decades.
“I love the social aspect and there are so many nice and friendly people,” he says. “Since you don’t have to be athletic, I feel that bowling is inclusive of everyone. All types of people can bowl.”
Glasser, who is hearing impaired, is active with the International Gay Bowling Organization and serves as national Co-Chair of the Deaf & Disabled Bowlers Advisory Committee. Their goal is to give everyone an opportunity to participate and to foster a sense of belonging at tournaments and events. They also provide ASL interpreters and ensure that all event venues are ADA compliant.
“Another wonderful thing about bowling is that the handicap pin count scoring system allows an average bowler to directly compete with a good bowler,” he says. “Not every sport offers a chance for all to feel equal.”
Now 40, Glasser says that his favorite thing about the Gay Games is the opening ceremonies. Washington, D.C. is generally the last team before the host team to march into the stadium during the parade of athletes.
“Once Team DC comes into the stadium, it is already packed with athletes and fans. The noise level will be incredible and I won’t be able to stop smiling,” Glasser says. “There is a real sense of acceptance and belonging to a greater community.”
He adds laughing, “I mean the Pointer Sisters are going to be there. I’m so excited. Right?”