The NYGFL is a member of the nonprofit National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL), which supports LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies. The NYGFL competes in the annual Gay Bowl tournament each year, bringing together nearly 1200 LGBTQIA+ athletes and their families in a select host city. The New York Giants partnered with the NYGFL in 2007 and again in 2019 when Gay Bowls VII and XIX were held in New York City, respectively. The latter also featured former long snapper Zak Deossie, who presented awards after the tournament concluded. Gay Bowl XXII takes place this October in Waikiki, Hawaii.
Although the NYGFL focuses on football, the league offers so much more. Regan McKendry described how he benefited from the league as a 13-year veteran. McKendry is an assistant commissioner for the Open Division and has served as an umpire for the past five years.
“It’s about football, but also about the social community we have afterwards,” he said.
Leslie Goldstein, former Women’s+ commissioner and 11-year league veteran, shared a particularly personal anecdote. She and her wife met through the NYGFL, and the league rescheduled games to allow 80 NYGFL members to attend their wedding reception.
“This is this league,” Goldstein said. “It’s about making sure you have a place where you feel welcome, where you can be yourself and also where you can play football.”
Commissioner Monty Clinton spoke about the wider impact of the league: “For many growing up, playing sports at school may not always have felt like a safe place to be outed. The stereotype of who should be a gay person doesn’t include sports. The NYGFL challenges that notion and allows people to find acceptance in football.”
Clinton’s message resonated with NYGFL freshman athlete Eliza DeMers, who shared a positive view of the clinic: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to know that the queer community is welcome in the NFL and in football. There’s not a ton of players that are part of the community so it’s been great.” She admitted her fondest memory from the clinic will be a pass rushing drill against Mbaeteka and Peart.
Ultimately, NYGFL’s influence extends beyond sports.
“I can’t count the number of people who have told me NYGFL has changed their lives,” Clinton said. “It sounds cheesy, but it’s really true — the league has given so many people a home.”
The home that NYGFL is building is instrumental in promoting diversity and inclusion in football. As an annual sponsor, the Giants look forward to celebrating the NYGFL after their season by participating in the league’s Hall of Fame celebrations.