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Rookies and vets: CAPS edition

Local gay softball teams welcome new players



Chris Ryan, Billy Sanchez, CAPS, gay news, Washington Blade
Chris Ryon, Billy Sanchez, CAPS, gay news, Washington Blade

Chris Ryon, left, and Billy Sanchez, a vet and rookie respectively in the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League. (Photos courtesy the players)

In the continuing Blade series on the rookies and veterans of the LGBT sports teams in Washington, two players from the Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League step up to the plate.

Spring season ball started last weekend for the players and registration is now open for the summer league. This August, the League is expecting to send five teams to the Gay Softball World Series in Columbus, Ohio.

Softball player Glenn Conklin points to two athletes who exemplify the type of players the league is proud to spotlight.

“Billy Sanchez is a new player that has infused so much enthusiasm into his team that he has reminded us about having fun with the game,” Conklin says. “Chris Ryon is a long-time player who fosters relationships with rookie athletes to encourage them to stay in the sport and advance to more competitive divisions.”

Sanchez grew up in California and began playing baseball for a travel team at age 7. He dropped the sport in high school because he was gay.

“I went to a Catholic high school and there was an incident in the locker room with a gay basketball player,” Sanchez says. “The desire to play was still there, but the obstacles felt too big.”

It was especially disappointing for Sanchez because baseball was something he shared with his father.

After he settled into his career as a behavioral therapist, Sanchez began taking his students to baseball games as part of the curriculum. The urge to play again crept into his head and after moving to D.C. with his partner, he happened to be at Nellie’s while the league was having its season kick-off party.

Sanchez was too late to join that season so he waited for the launch of the summer 2014 season.

“When I started playing and realized I could still do this, it was absolutely phenomenal,” says Sanchez, who is 30 and plays shortstop. “I could still hear my father in my ear giving me tips.”

Sanchez had his partner film some footage of him playing to send to his dad in California who responded with some familiar critiques, telling him he was making the same mistakes he made as a kid.

That was a great moment for Sanchez as it felt good to rebuild that part of their relationship.  His family even drove out for Sanchez’s first softball tournament with his D.C. teammates in Las Vegas last January at the Sin City Shootout.

Sanchez noticed in his first season that the veteran players had a dominant presence and he found himself asking a lot of questions to help build similar relationships with the other players.

“It feels good to be competitive again,” Sanchez says. “I love the team comraderie. This feels like a big family.”

Chris Ryon grew up in Northern Virginia and played every sport he could get his hands on including tennis, soccer, track & field and swimming. Two sports missing from his list were baseball and softball.

He dropped out of sports after college and something clicked in him when he came out at age 27.

“I was looking for something and realized that sports had been such a big part of my life,” Ryon says. “I had no gay experience and no softball experience, so I joined the league in 2006.”

Ryon had always liked watching baseball, but found out that he was pretty lousy at playing.

“I could catch and run,” Ryon says, “but I was lucky if any of my ground balls made it out of the infield.”

His answer to that was to spend a lot time keeping score for other teams and reading baseball literature such as the book from legendary baseball player Ted Williams on the science of hitting.

Ryon ended up leaving the LGBT league and joining a straight league, the D.C. Think Tank League. He found their league to be boring and he returned to Chesapeake and Potomac Softball where he formed his own team.

Now in his 10th year as a softball player, the 37 year-old athlete, who is employed in network tech support, has found his niche in the LGBT softball community.

“If I see a player who is struggling, I will offer tips,” Ryon says. “The details are what make for better softball.”

Tournament action started for Ryon five years ago and he is hooked on what they have to offer. He has traveled to multiple cities including Las Vegas, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston and the 2014 Cleveland/Akron Gay Games.

In the past few years, his improvement on the field has led to two tournament titles and three second place finishes.

“Playing for so many years, it was great to finally win one. I love the tournaments because you get to play all day,” says Ryon, who plays second base. “Winning is a mindset as much as it is an ability. Every play can change a game.”

Recently, the veteran asked the rookie to join his travel team for the upcoming Philadelphia tournament.

“I have seen how Sanchez plays; he has a great arm,” Ryon says. “Playing with new players improves everyone’s abilities.”

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Gay men challenge Qatar death penalty for homosexuality

Country to host 2022 World Cup



Dr. Nasser Mohamed (Photo courtesy of Instagram)

Gay men are blowing the whistle now, two months before the World Cup, demanding the host nation of Qatar change its anti-LGBTQ ways.

The Middle Eastern country where Islam is the state religion will welcome soccer players, coaches and fans from all around the planet, beginning Nov. 20, for matches that will pit nation against nation.

Qatar has promised to welcome LGBTQ foreigners, even as its own people are tortured and put to death for being who they are. 

On Monday, Qatar’s ambassador to Germany got an earful from one of those men at a human rights conference in Frankfurt, hosted by the German Football Association, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Fan representative Dario Minden spoke in English directly to Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, about who he is and who he loves, Minden told him to “abolish the death penalty” for homosexuality. 

“I’m a man and I love men. I do — please don’t be shocked — have sex with other men. This is normal,” Minden told Al Thani. “So, please get used to it, or stay out of football. Because the most important rule in football is, football is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re lesbian, if you’re gay. It’s for everyone. For the boys. For the girls. And for everyone in between. 

“So, abolish the death penalty. Abolish all of the penalties regarding sexual and gender identity,” he said. 

Although organizers promised Al Thani an opportunity to respond, the Associated Press reports that portion of the conference was closed to the public and the news media and was not televised. 

Earlier, Al Thani reportedly complained to those assembled that the issue of human rights was a distraction from the World Cup, even though the event was titled, “Sport and Human Rights.” 

“We all care about human rights,” said Al Thani. “But I would have enjoyed (it) more if I saw some concentration not only on just one subject, but the enjoyment of football and the football effect on people around the world.” 

More than 5,000 miles away in San Francisco, a gay Qatari physician has organized a petition to tell the land of his birth: Love Is Not A Crime. 

Doctor Nasser Mohamed decided to come out in 2010 following a visit to the U.S., and spent his residency in Connecticut before moving to California in 2015. 

Mohamed wrote in an op-ed published by Outsports last month that he has spent the last decade caring for the LGBTQ community in outpatient settings and growing as an activist. 

“Being an LGBT person is a criminal offense in the legal system in Qatarm as is sex between two men. There are state-sponsored conversion-therapy practices, and LGBT-affirming psychotherapy is not offered.” He wrote how law enforcement uses media and chat rooms to find, jail and punish people for being LGBTQ. 

“Visibility of the local LGBT community in Qatar, and the exposure of their treatment, are absolutely essential,” Mohamed wrote. “I am doing my part by speaking up.”

Editor’s note: Find out about Mohamed’s petition by clicking here. He is also raising money through a GoFundMe account to provide him with funding for his activism as well as security and protection.

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Carl Nassib returns to Tampa

Former Las Vegas Raiders defensive end came out as gay in June 2021



Carl Nassib (Screenshot courtesy of YouTube/KUVV Fox 5 in Las Vegas)

Carl Nassib, who made headlines in June 2021 when he became the NFL’s first out gay active player, reportedly has signed a one-year contract with his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

The 29-year-old defensive end was released by the Las Vegas Raiders in March, and became a free agent. NFL sources said that was due to his contracted salary amount — $7.75 million — and not any reflection on his sexual orientation.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news with a tweet

When Nassib came out last summer, he announced he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, and for Pride Month this year he made a new pledge to help LGBTQ youth. He promised to match donations to the Trevor Project, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.

Will Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady welcome Nassib?

As Outsports reported, he’s never made any comments about playing with someone gay. Brady’s former New England Patriots teammate Ryan O’Callaghan recalled that before he came out in 2017, following his retirement, there was one time that he missed the team bus and Brady gave him a ride in his car to that day’s practice.

O’Callaghan told Outsports he believes Brady would have “absolutely” accepted him if he had come out at that time.

“Being married to a super model I’m sure he’s met a few gay people in his life,” said O’Callaghan.

Brady wed Brazilian fashion model Gisele Bündchen in 2009.

Legendary Boston sports columnist Steve Buckley of the Athletic came out as gay in 2011 while at the Boston Herald. He told Outsports that Brady has always been friendly and cooperative, even after Buckley came out.

This is the second time around at Raymond James Stadium for Nassib. He played for the Buccaneers for two seasons prior to joining the Raiders in 2020. His NFL career began in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns. 

As Jason Owens reported for Yahoo! Sports, Nassib was far more productive in Tampa as a part-time starter, recording 6.5 sacks in 2018 and six sacks in 2019. The NFL’s website shows he played just 242 defensive snaps and earned 1.5 sacks last season. 

In 86 games including 37 starts, Nassib’s recorded 22 career sacks, 164 tackles, 53 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles.

In addition to Brady, Nassib’s new teammates are Akiem Hicks and William Gholston at defensive end and outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Given that the Buccaneers finished seventh in the NFL in sacks last season with 47, Nassib will be expected to improve Tampa Bay’s chances when their season begins on Sept. 11 in Dallas.

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Federal judge temporarily blocks anti-trans youth sports law in Indiana

The injunction requires that A.M., a 10 -year-old trans girl, must be allowed to rejoin her school’s all-girls softball team



On Tuesday Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued an preliminary injunction that blocked an Indiana law that prevents trans youth from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

The injunction requires that A.M., a 10 -year-old trans girl, must be allowed to rejoin her school’s all-girls softball team while litigation continues.  

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit in April, on behalf of A.M., challenging House Enrolled Act 1041, which bans transgender girls from participating in school sports. 

Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana, issued the following statement: 

“When misinformation about biology and gender is used to bar transgender girls from school sports it amounts to the same form of sex discrimination that has long been prohibited under Title IX, a law that protects all students – including trans people – on the basis of sex.  

“We are pleased that Judge Magnus-Stinson has recognized this and required that A.M. be allowed to play on her school’s softball team.  

“If other students are being denied the right to join a sports team at their school due to their transgender status, we encourage them to contact the ACLU of Indiana immediately.” 

This past May, the Indiana Legislature had voted to overturn Republican Governor Eric Holcomb’s March veto of HB 1041, a measure that bans transgender girls from competing on girls’ K-12 sports teams in the state.

The vote to override the veto means that this law makes Indiana the 8th state to ban trans youth from playing sports in 2022 by legislative action — and the 16th in the country.

In his veto message sent to House Speaker Todd Huston’s office, Holcomb said the bill presumed a problem already existed that required the state to intervene and it implied the goals of consistency and fairness in girls’ sports were not being met.

“After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal,” Holcomb wrote.

“Governor Holcomb was the second governor this year to uphold the dignity of transgender and nonbinary youth, and veto an attempt by lawmakers to write them out of existence. While those young people continue to face unrelenting political attacks, the Indiana legislature voted to override his act of courage and compassion, pushing these marginalized youth even further to the sidelines,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project.

“This bill claimed to solve a problem of ‘fairness’ in school sports in Indiana that didn’t exist, but its negative impacts on the mental health and well-being of trans and nonbinary youth — young people who already face disproportionate rates of bullying, depression, and suicide — are very real. To the young people in Indiana watching tonight: you are stronger than they know. We are here for you, we will fight for you, and we are not going anywhere.”

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