Friday, July 13, 2007

Bums on Display for a Cause in the Pines

One of the many reporter perks on Fire Island is he received unrestricted access to some of the most fun -- and decadent -- parties on the island. This blogger covered the first annual Fashion for Football fundraiser this past Saturday in the Fire Island Pines for the Fire Island News and EDGE Publications. It benefited the New York Gay Football League, the Ali Forney Center and the PFLAG Esera Tuaolo Scholarship... Did he mention gay football players stormed the runway in little more than AussieBum speedos? This blogger hung out with GLAAD President Neil Giuliano, WNYC reporter Richard Hake, former Empire State Pride Agenda staffer Chris Cormier, OutSports co-founder Cyd Zeigler and others between shots of tequila and interviews with the models. Gay men can indeed play football in the Pines and elsewhere!

The boys from Down Under - or rather New York City, Los Angeles and Florida--raised more than $14,000 for a number of gay charities and organizations as they took to a makeshift runway in a covered-over pool in a home in Fire Island Pines. On Saturday, July 7, in little more than Aussie Bum Speedos and a smile, models strutted their stuff in the first annual (but we certainly hope not last) "Fashion for Football" fundraiser.

Nine members of the New York Gay Football League [NYGFL] proved who the real jocks are as they captivated and titillated the more than 200 people who turned out to the fashion show with their catwalk prowess and chiseled physiques. Ubiquitously gay jokes about football players also flowed freely as attendees jockeyed for position around the pool before the show began.

NYGFL Chair Jonathan Bloom told EDGE in a pre-fashion show that the Pines provides a perfect venue for this type of fundraiser. The fashion show provides an opportunity for "athletic supporters" to come out and support their favorite team or player, he added.

"This gives the experience of [a] football league to the gay community," Bloom said. "This gives gay men a chance to socialize on an athletic level."

Model and NYGFL member Rory Ray agreed. The Los Angeles native said that Fire Islanders continue to show their support and generosity for the league as it continues to increase in popularity.

"It’s a good way to raise money for a good cause," Ray said. "Gay people can also be athletic. It’s important not to bind ourselves to specific stereotypes."

Fourteen teams and two conferences make up the NYGFL. The organization will host Gay Superbowl 7 in New York later this year in which 20 teams from across the country are expected to participate.

The fashion show also raised money for the Ali Forney Center, a Manhattan-based organization whose mission is to end homeless among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, and the Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays [PFLAG] Esera Tuaolo Scholarship, named in honor of the retired defensive lineman.

Fashion show coordinator Derek Reyes stressed that both the Gay Superbowl and the Pines fundraiser demonstrated to gay men that they too can play football and be part of a team. "A lot of them [the players] played in high school," he said. "They now play in an openly gay league. It’s almost like a fraternity."

Many at the fundraiser readily agreed. Some conceded, however, the draw of gay football players in skimpy swimsuits was something which they simply could not resist. "Rafael was the absolute hottest," Jodie said as she and her husband Dave admired one of the models along the edge of the pool. "I wish I could see him again."

Pines resident Keith said he felt particularly drawn to the couple who embraced and kissed after they took to the runway. His friend Joe added the models had a profound effect on him.

"It makes me want to learn how to play football," he said.

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