The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance or NGAAA (say that five times fast) is launching a new Caribbean cruise aimed specifically at LGBT athletes, partners, and those who work in and around athletics.
The inaugural LGBT Athletes At Sea: the 2014 Halloween Party & Cruise from Oct. 26-Nov. 2, will take place aboard the Navigator of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International cruise vessel according to James Williamson, a NAGAAA assistant commissioner and the
Gay Softball World Series athletic director.
Over the last several years, we have had people ask us about the possibility of organising something outside of the Gay Softball World Series where NAGAAA members could get together. What we [at NAGAAA] are really about is supporting the LBGT athletic community and helping it thrive any way possible.
According to Williamson, there will be two groups of LGBT individuals on the cruise, including his own softball group which will account for at least 200 LGBT people onboard, "which will make for some pretty festive events." The cruise will feature two LGBT celebrity speakers: American rugby star Colby Jansen and his wife Gia Darling, who is a transgender porn star and motivational speaker.
Colby has played rugby at the top level of U.S. competition and has been successful internationally. He is one of the very few people out there who have come out as an LGBT athlete and continued to play at that highly competitive level in the 'straight sports world. He can give attendees a unique glimpse into that world, validate some of the fears we had while playing as closeted athletes, but also shatter some of those same fears. He has a wonderful story of support, acceptance and respect that reaffirms just how far we have come as a society. What I hope people get from his story is that your ability on the field is all that matters to the outcome of the game, and who you are as a person is all that matters to the strength of the team—your sexuality doesn't make you stronger or weaker as an athlete.
Darling is not going to be present merely as Jansen's wife said Williamson. Rather, she will give her own presentations on being a partner of an LGBT athlete as well as offering her personal perspectives on what being transgender means in athletics.
As a very successful businesswoman and motivational speaker, my hope is that Gia will impart to all of us, both leaders and players, a better understanding of how athletics is perceived in the transgender community—the positives, the negatives, the barriers, etc. While she is only one voice for that community, I am personally very excited to open my eyes and learn how we can become more inclusive of everyone that would be a part of our LGBT athletic community.
Sounds like fun. The cruise departs from Galveston, Texas on Sunday, October 26 on a 7-night trip visiting Cozumel, the Grand Caymans, and Falmouth. If you're interested, you can register here.
Image via Alex Stiop/Shutterstock.