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NGFFL Part IV Narrative for 501c3 Submission FINAL

NGFFL Part IV Narrative for 501c3 Submission FINAL

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National Gay Flag Football League
 
Federal EIN:27-3549953
 
National Gay Flag Football LeagueP.2. Part IV. Narrative
The National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) is a federation of 20 local recreationalflag-football leagues that serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)community in metropolitan areas around the nation. The NGFFL creates healthy, thrivinglocal LGBT communities by breaking through some of the barriers that historically haveleft LGBT people feeling isolated and apart in the places where we work and live. Thosebarriers include lack of opportunity for meaningful connection, old stereotypes aboutwhat it means to be LGBT, and tired prejudices held by people both gay and straight.
Vision
To become the greatest place for LGBT people to experience all the wonderful thingsthat come from participation in team sports. This vision, as adopted in May 2011, issupported by a six-point agenda:
Grow into more local communities and invite more people where we alreadyexist.
Pursue new heights in the sport and in LGBT sports broadly, on the field and off.
Strike an elegant balance between competitiveness and camaraderie, so we canplay outstanding flag football yet leave the field as community and friends.
Be a great place for all LGBT athletes, including those who are among the mosttalented recreational athletes in North America, and those considering tryingsports for the first time.
Offer an inclusive, safe, welcoming environment for all LGBT people generally,no matter race, color, creed, gender or gender expression.
Share the sense of community, strength and esteem we create with thecommunities around us.
Mission
The NGFFL seeks to promote the positive social and athletic enjoyment of American flagfootball. Through our league, our events and most importantly our members, we alsoseek to foster and augment the self-respect of all LGBT persons and to promote respectand understanding from the larger community. While particular emphasis is placed onthese specific goals, it is a fundamental principle of NGFFL that all activities, social andathletic, are conducted to be inclusive in nature and that no individual shall be excludedfrom participating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality,ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic ability, physical challenge, HIV status or genderidentity.
 
National Gay Flag Football League
 
Federal EIN:27-3549953
 History
The NGFFL is the brainchild of two men in California, Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler, whoboth were recreational-sports participants and advocates for LGBT equality in the sportsarena. They knew that sports breaks down barriers and chips away at stereotypes. Andthey were flag football fans and players.So in 2002, they organized the first ever
gay Super Bowl,
 
which they dubbed the “G
ayBowl.
That first tournament featured only three teams
 –
from San Francisco, LosAngeles, and Boston
 –
but it was a success. In each subsequent year, the Gay Bowlgrew in size, with more teams representing more cities traveling to take part.And participation in the Gay Bowl had an effect at home. Once a team from a new cityparticipated in Gay Bowl, the players returned to their communities energized anddetermined to share the flag-football experience with more LGBT people. Local leaguesbegan to form, and the NGFFL jumped at the opportunity. It supported the growth ofthose fledgling local leagues by providing aspiring local leaders with education resources,advice, counsel and other assistance in areas such as organizational formation, playerrecruitment, and community outreach.Today, the sport has taken root in 20 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and Canada.As more LGBT people have been touched by flag football and its unique capacity to chipaway at stereotypes and advance unde
rstanding of the LGBT community’s diversity and
athleticism, the NGFFL has evolved into the thriving nationwide community it is today. Itis estimated that some 2,000-3,000 people now participate in NGFFL-related leaguesand events. The positive impact of that participation
 –
increased understanding andchanged minds about what it means to be LGBT
 –
is immeasurable.
Opportunities and Challenges
OpportunitiesThe great opportunity before the NGFFL is use ourgreat sport to create more healthy outlets for moreLGBT people in more places. In many more locations,we have the opportunity to be an agent for breakingthrough the barriers that otherwise leave LGBTpeople feeling isolated and apart. We have anopportunity to create, through our sport, moremeaningful connections among the people withinLGBT communities. When that happens, we debunkold stereotypes about what it means to be LGBT, andwe correct tired prejudices.And we have learned that some of the most inaccurate stereotypes about what it meansto be LGBT are held by LGBT people themselves! This is particularly true when it comesto sports.As children and teens, many LGBT people
 –
perhaps particularly gay men
 –
shy awayfrom organized sports. Sports, from school-level to professional, remain one of the last
bastions of overt homophobia. In 2011, even as the infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
 
In many more locations, wehave the opportunity to be anagent for breaking throughbarriers that leave LGBTpeople feeling isolated andapart. We have an opportunityto create, through our sport,more meaningful connectionswithin LGBT communities.
 
 
National Gay Flag Football League
 
Federal EIN:27-3549953
 
policy was repealed, there still are nearly no LGBT athletes in professional sports whoare open about who they are.Therefore, many LGBT people
 –
both young and adult
 –
accept as fact the subtlemessages that U.S. society sends: sports are no place for gay people. Those peopletouched by the NGFFL have that inaccurate notion blown apart. The NGFFL providesthose individuals with an outlet to experience all the wonderful things that come fromparticipation in team sports
 –
personal achievement, teamwork, camaraderie, and asense of community identity and shared purpose. And unlike so much of the broaderpopulation who participated in sports as children, the NGFFL provides many LGBTpeople the opportunity to experience all of this for the first time.The NGFFL also upends preconceived notions for those LGBT people who, unlike thegroup just discussed, actually grew up participating in team sports but in most caseshiding who they are from their teammates and coaches. More often than not, theybelieved they were entirely alone. The NGFFL shows them that in fact they were
not 
 alone
 –
many other young athletes were struggling in silence just like them. In theNGFFL, they meet and share those mutual experiences with others who also walked inthose shoes, sometimes even on the field right beside them, silently. F
or many, it’s a
colossal discovery.And the NGFFL has the opportunity tocontinue to educate the broader populationas well
 –
namely, straight people
 –
thatLGBT people are really no different thanthem. American football is integral to U.S.culture. Many Americans love the sportpassionately. That includes many LGBTAmericans, who not only love the sport, butwant to play it (the safer, flag version,anyway). Time and again, the straight familyand friends of NGFFL flag football playerswho are first-time spectators at games comment that the
players “Don’t look gay at all.”It’s almost as if their minds are blown by the discovery that gay people can play sports at
a high level, physically and with passion. The NGFFL opens minds in the communities inwhich we play.The NGFFL reveals to people, both gay and straight, that LGBT people are just asdiverse, and at the same time really no different from, the broader population. Researchshows that the greatest barrier to people supporting full equality under the law for LGBTpeople is lack of understanding of what it means to be LGBT. The NGFFL goes to the
heart of that. As NGFFL commissioner (president) Shane Kinkennon says, “The
countless volunteer hours I put into gay flag football is my number-one contribution to
the march toward equality for LGBT people.”
 ChallengesThe greatest challenge faced by the NGFFL in capitalizing on the opportunitiesexplained above is the very factor our organization aims to address
 –
the sense amongmany LGBT people that they are separate and apart from the communities around them,oftentimes including the other LGBT people around them!
 
“As a young man
coming to terms withbeing gay, I had a hard time figuringout who I was or where I fit. But then Idiscovered gay flag football and theamazing community around it. I foundpeople just like me. This league hasliterally changed my life.
 
- Peter Koenig, player in the NGFFL

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