When you think of sports, bowling may not be the first that comes to mind, but for this Sydney LGBTI league, that’s just how they roll. Jesse Jones reports.
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If traditional team sports aren’t for you—maybe you’re not keen on the idea of getting tackled, or too much running around—tenpin bowling could be right up your alley.
Originally started as a social sporting club for gay guys, it’s since embraced the rest of the rainbow, and all genders are welcome.
Some bowlers enjoy being part of the league for a short time before moving on, while others love it so much they soon become fixtures.
Lyndon Gaskin has been with the Rams since its first year—he believes it’s one of the oldest and largest LGBTI bowling leagues in Australia.
“I’ve stuck with it all these years because I love bowling, and I love the social aspect to it,” says Gaskin.
The group holds plenty of social events away from the lanes as well, from picnics to beach parties, and they make a regular appearance at Mardi Gras’ Fair Day.
The end of each year sees a celebration and presentation night, featuring entertainment such as drag kings and queens—sometimes including Gaskin as his alter ego Gloria Giggletits.
“It’s a really fun night to round off the year,” says Gaskin.
Last month saw the group’s annual charity bingo night, with proceeds going to The Gender Centre.
While some members are very competitive and take the sport seriously, others such as Gaskin are equally happy to “go along for a toss and a giggle”.
“Most people just go there to enjoy themselves,” he says.
“But the people who are competitive, believe me—they’re bloody good!”
Many bowlers have also found a real sense of community in the league.
Secretary Norman Mitchell has been with the Rams for almost a decade.
When he and his partner returned to Sydney from living overseas, they met new friends through bowling, even staying in touch with many who have moved on from the league.
“You become a family,” he says.
When Mitchell’s partner passed away three years ago, the Rams stepped in to look after him.
“They pretty much rallied around me,” Mitchell says.
“A lot of people were there to give me a lot of support over that time. If you need them, they’re there, and give a lot of support.
“They’re a good bunch of people.”
The Sydney Rams meet on Monday nights at Manhattan Superbowl in Mascot.
All levels of bowlers are welcomed, from beginners to pros.
“Everyone gets a handicap, which makes it a bit fairer,” explains Mitchell.
“You don’t need to be the best bowler at all.”
That said, those who are the best bowlers have headed to the Paris Gay Games this month, and the Rams have previously played at other international gay events including the Outgames.
“The Rams bowlers usually do pretty well,” says Mitchell, adding that they have typically brought home medals from past games.