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Phil Villeneuve
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Take me out of the ball game

An editorial about failed gay sports

11.08.2012

I have a very sordid sports history. When I was charging my parents and their friends to come watch my extended “Rhythm Nation” dance routine in the basement, they really should have taken note. “Maybe this kid should be on a stage . . . and not far out in left field.”

I was big into gym class and loved track and field, dodge ball and volleyball. Sadly, I sucked at all of them.
My parents signed up my sister and me for karate when we were young. I went the first day and ran the hell back home, back to my room to learn every word on the Dick Tracy soundtrack instead.

Then my folks enlisted me in baseball. I was terrified. My most memorable experience in the sport included (finally) hitting a ball during a game with a bunch of neighbourhood kids, only to have that same ball thwack the youngest player in the nose. I broke his fucking nose.

I tried to stay positive. I was 11 years old and really into the idea of wearing a jockstrap for the first time — I ended up having way more fun with it in my bedroom than on the field, but that’s another story — but my optimism got me nowhere. I played for two straight summers and didn’t hit a single ball. I’m not exaggerating. Even the younger kids on the team would grab my shoulders, look me in the face and say, “Phil, just swing! It won’t kill you.” I survived on walking to first base after waiting for four balls.

In the winter, my ever-loving mom and dad tried to push hockey, with no result. We would have big family games out on the frozen lake, but I was easily distracted by the lines my blades were making on the slick surface and would start twirling around in my best Elvis Stojko impression.

Despite all my handicaps, I really do like a lot of sports. I love watching men’s diving and rugby for very, very obvious reasons. That’s why I find it so exciting that Toronto has such a vibrant gay sports community. Not all boys wanted to do cartwheels on the football field — many of them actually wanted to play!

There are tons of sports organizations worthy of a mention we simply didn’t have room to feature in this issue (check out “Playing for the Other Teams” at fabmagazine.com for an extensive list), but trust me, if you want to play something, there’s a team out there waiting for you. And if you have some extra time, I’ll be performing several Janet Jackson numbers in my basement next Saturday for $5. — Phil Villeneuve

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