By Terrance Turner
Keith London has loved both baseball and soccer since he was a child. As an adult, he gravitated toward kickball because it was his two favorite sports combined. “I noticed that a lot of cities do not have gay kickball,” London says.
That prompted London to form America’s Finest Kickball League, which began in Austin and is poised to debut in Houston in August.
Gay kickball has become über-popular in recent years in some cities. The league in Washington DC—part of the local Stonewall Sports organization—has nearly 2,500 members on Facebook, with games played on the National Mall.
Over the last several months, AFKL has expanded to other cities that didn’t have gay kickball leagues, including Las Vegas, Dallas, Boston, Seattle, and Tampa.
Like other LGBTQ sports organzations, AFKL provides people with an opportunity to interact outside of bars and clubs, according to London. (Non-LGBTQ allies are also welcome to participate.) “I’m super-passionate about it,” London says. “This is bringing so many people together, and it’s so fulfilling.”
The seven-week AFKL Houston season begins August 5 in Lawrence Park, at 725 Lawrence Street in the Heights. The games will continue from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday in August. After a three-week hiatus, play will resume on September 16 and continue through September 30. Each game lasts seven innings or 50 minutes (whichever comes first), and two games will be played each week.
Kickball is similar to baseball, except that it’s played with an inflatable ball that is 10 inches in diameter and must be kicked instead of batted. The object of the game is to score more runs than the opposing team.
Each team consists of 12 to 20 players—men and women who, according to the AFKL website, can be anywhere from 20 to 80 years old. AFKL’s website home page features a quote from President Obama: “When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”
At press time, 34 people had signed up to play in the Houston league, which has four team captains. The cost is $80 per person, with a $2.50 registration fee.
“People can come and watch for free,” London says.
To learn more about the AFKL or to register for the upcoming season, visit GayKickball.com.
This article appears in the August 2017 issue of OutSmart Magazine.