- Founded in 1981, Gotham Volleyball is the largest LGBTQ sports club in New York City.
- He hopes to inspire the queer community through the friendship built around sports.
- One player described Gotham as “an independent place in the LGBTQ +community. It’s a home, a family.”
Eight years ago, Brandon Gillis went to New York City’s Pride March and was surprised to see volleyballs flying in the air. Members of Gotham Volleyball, New York’s largest LGBTQ sports club, proudly displayed their flags as they marched on the road.
Gillis, who played on his high school football team. She signed up to try it next weekend. He played in world championships and is now a coach.
“Gotham is a unique place in the LGBTQ +community,” Gillis told Insider. “It’s a home, it’s a family. Even if we don’t play volleyball, we text each other. We have a team, a circle of friends – real friends. They don’t care how much you do. What you do and what you do. You really connect with real people. When I meet other people in the LGBTQ+community, I think they like that. “
Founded in 1981, Gotham began as a small group of people playing together in Central Park. In the 41 years since then, it has grown to more than 1,000 members. He’s one of the lion’s share of LGBTQ sports in New York City – and across America – looking to inspire the queer community through a friendship built around sports.
“Sport is normal for everyone,” Andre Carneiro, who served as Gotham’s treasurer and as a player and captain, told Insider. “You end up meeting all these people, and sometime later you’ll see what they do. It’s like, ‘Oh, wow, I don’t know anyone who did that job. I don’t know. to know that about you. you already know where you are as a musician. ‘ I think it really improves how you get to see the city, how you get to see the queer experience, how you get to see the whole sport. “
In addition to a wide range of game modes – with 11 game modes (from start to finish), training, and tournaments – Gotham also hosts a series of online and offline games. social events, from National Coming Out Day panels to picnics and cups. .
“Our mission is to build community through volleyball,” Carneiro said. “So while volleyball is the reason we come together, when we make decisions, the decisions are about what’s most important to building the community. It’s important. But we know because to fulfill the mission, we need to open up all levels of the game. It’s a community-first team. “
While Gotham tries to open up everyone who wants to join in, the lion has become so popular that space is limited. Trials often involve hundreds of players, not all of them can be cut. Carneiro said members will do their best to relax the newcomers.
“It’s very important that even if the experience you’ve had with sports before is the same, you’re the last to be selected, or you’re not to be selected,” he said. “It brings out a lot of ideas for me and for a lot of people. To this day, if I have to try, it’s a terrifying experience, and it’s been 24 seasons … I think we all have stories that about us. our relationship with sports and our relationship with the male in sports or the queer in sports, so we don’t underestimate how much a roller coaster can be. “
Orni Noël, a volunteer player as captain and coach, had never looked for a different type of sports lion when he moved to New York City in 2013. He dropped out. him to Gotham on a Google search.
“I think something is better if you’re about the people you’re talking to,” he said. “The community’s sense of belonging has increased because they can be involved at the very least.
Noël first felt the power of the Gotham community when he began his masculinity a few years into becoming a lion.
“When I first started my transgender, it was combined with the first year that the lion had held a panel discussion to enlighten trans people,” he said. “I’m one of the panelists, and I’ve only been transitioning for three months. It’s very important for people there to just listen to what I have to say and show me that they support my transformation. “Man. I had a lot of love at that time. It’s a good memory that even though the world isn’t behind us, our community is behind us.”
This article is part of “We/Us/Ours,” a story about LGBTQ places that encourage support and empowerment.