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Gays grab flags—and title—in national football tourney

By Walter Armstrong

Last weekend, Dallas, Texas, was the proud host to the sixth-annual Gay Bowl—a.k.a. the Super Bowl of the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL)—featuring a record-breaking 16 teams. A popular variation on touch football, the sport is played with pig-skin panache but without the use of the tackle and its tendency to cause mortal injury. In place of body blows, you stop the ball carrier from scoring a touchdown with a much more enlightened approach—"deflagging." That involves snatching the strip of fabric attached to his belt, then stopping and waving the flag over your head. (Chorus-line kicks and other homo theatrics are optional.)

Sponsored by Coors, American Airlines and several local companies, Gay Bowl VI was held at Dallas' sprawling Trinity View Park, the stomping grounds of hometown fag-flag-ball-fave, the Texas Bulls. Jere Becker, the Bulls' president and quarterback, pioneered the sport, having organized the Lone Star state's first queer team in 1994. A Dallas realtor, Becker followed in his father's cleats by playing high school and college football. "I went to my first Gay Bowl simply because I wanted to play football," Becker told the Dallas Voice. "There's this notion that you can't be gay and play contact sports. You don't see any NFL players who are out. And that's different compared to sports like figure skating and diving."

A Gay Games regular who never met a sport he didn't excel at, Becker also scored big by nabbing the NGFFL tourney for Dallas this year, beating out Salt Lake City. "We created a 20-page document with color photos, a letter from the mayor, diagrams of the fields, schedules and a budget," he recalled. "The Salt Lake City Avalanches only submitted a three-page bid."

But when it came to the gridiron this weekend, Becker and his Bulls were flagging—and not in a good way. It was the New York Warriors who took the national title, while the hometown heroes had to settle for consolation prize.

For more on gay flag football, including a look at the NGFFL teams' splashy logos, information about the teams, and of course flesh-and-blood eye candy, check out http://www.gaybowlvi.com.