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Have you heard about something really cool happening in adult recreational sports? LGBTQ+ adult sports leagues are making their mark in a landscape that wasn’t always welcoming.

But times are changing. Once limited to large gay-friendly cities like San Francisco, LGBTQ+ adult sports leagues are now in places you might not expect, like Honolulu and Louisville.

From rugby to volleyball to kickball, you’ll find an LGBTQ+-friendly option in cities across North America. Keep reading to learn more about these organizations that embrace–instead of exclude– you for your identity and how you can find an LGBTQ+ sports league near you.

What Are LGBTQ+ Adult Sports Leagues?

The first iterations of adult recreational sports leagues in the gay community hit the scene in the late seventies. The Cabbagetown Group Softball League (CGSL) was formed in 1975 in Canada. Shortly after, in 1977, the CGSL became a founding member of the newly organized North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA). Its goal was to provide safe and welcoming opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community to participate in amateur adult sports.

Both groups still exist today, along with hundreds of others.

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LGBTQ+ adult sports leagues provide a variety of options for the community. From competitive leagues to leagues that focus more on the social aspect than the competition, LGBTQ+ sports leagues run the gamut. And if you don’t identify as LGBTQ+ but are an ally, most of the leagues are available for you to join as well.

The cool part is, by joining, you’re kind of making a statement. You’re showing the world that sports are for everyone, no matter who you love or how you identify. So, if you’re up for some fun, making new friends, and maybe learning a thing or two about playing sports, these leagues are calling your name.

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Importance of Inclusive Sports Communities For Adult Athletes

Inclusive sports leagues, especially ones for LGBTQ+ adults, are super important. They’re a safe haven where you can just be yourself and play sports without worrying about anyone giving you a hard time for who you are.

It’s all about being in a place that gets you and where everyone treats each other with respect. You’re part of a crew that promotes inclusivity and diversity, and they welcome you with open arms.

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Reddit quote from a member of LGBTQ+ sports league

Often, LGBTQ+ adult sports leagues are also about more than just breaking a sweat and competing. They’re about finding your people and making friends. They help you feel like you belong, which is a big deal for your mental health.

And, with the prevalence of mental health issues and substance abuse being substantially higher in the LGBTQ+ community, having an outlet like sports to participate in can help stave off both of these issues.

Plus, by joining an inclusive adult sports league, you’re helping knock down stereotypes, spread positivity, and celebrate everyone’s unique story in the broader world.

Popular Sports In LGBTQ+ Leagues

So what kinds of sports can you expect from LGBTQ+ leagues? Some of the more popular sports are softball, kickball, rugby, bowling, and flag football. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find just about everything else as well.

LGBTQ+ adult sports leagues like Stonewall and OutLoud promote social sports to add some fun to the mix. Dodgeball, cornhole, and darts are a few of the options the more social leagues will offer. Intermingled with sports might be happy hours or networking events–or a charity drag show.

There are also plenty of LGBTQ+-specific soccer leagues and volleyball leagues. In fact, many sports have designated associations to serve the community, like the International Gay Rugby Association (IGR) and the North American Gay Soccer Association (NAGSA).

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Where To Find LGBTQ+ Adult Sports Leagues

Fortunate for you, if you’re looking for an LGBTQ+ adult sports league–or tournament–you’ve come to the right place. The Adults Play Sports directory lets you easily find LGBTQ+ sports options near you. Simply check off the filter for “LGBTQ,” enter your location (or let it find you), pick your sport, and you’re off to the races.

The directory currently has 200 LGBTQ+-supportive adult sports leagues, and more are regularly added. If you want to be kept in the loop about anything new, simply hit the “Save This Search” button at the top of your search results page. You’ll receive an email notification of new listings that fit your criteria. Cool, right?

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Click the save search button in the directory, and we’ll email you when we add leagues matching your search to the directory

Better Health & Better Life Through LGBTQ+ Adult Sports Leagues

Getting involved in an LGBTQ+ adult sports league can really switch things up for your health and happiness. We have already briefly touched on the mental health benefits of playing sports. But there’s so much more adult sports can offer.

Getting active is beneficial for your physical health as well. Sure, maybe cornhole isn’t a big calorie burn, but soccer, rugby, and ultimate frisbee sure are. What a bonus to do something fun, and you get to burn calories while doing it! Staying active will improve your heart health, keep your bones strong, and keep you in shape.

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quote from reddit about lgbtq sports leagues
Reddit quote from a member of LGBTQ+ sports league

An added bonus is the camaraderie you’ll experience being part of a team or league. Teammates often forge unbreakable bonds of friendship that last a lifetime. If you move to a new city, it’ll definitely be worth your while to check out what LGBTQ+ sports leagues are available. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to make new friends.

With a strong friendship group, life is simply better–especially if you’re surrounded by people who understand some of the trials and tribulations you can face being LGBTQ+.

LGBTQ+ Athletes Pay It Forward

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Besides offering sports, many LGBTQ+ adult sports leagues participate in charitable events to give back to the community. If activism is important to you, there are many opportunities to get involved. Some leagues run their own charity events and fundraisers. Others offer volunteer opportunities where you might help with youth programs.

Whether you join simply for the sport, the friendship, the activism, or any combination of those, LGBTQ+ adult sports leagues are a great way to express your pride. And if there isn’t a league near you yet, why not start one?