According to the Bay Area Reporter, Jack McGowan, one of the founders of the LGBT sports movement, died from heart ailments on January 23 at the age of 78. The thousands of men and women who currently compete in LGBT softball leagues and the Gay Softball World Series owe him a debt of gratitude.
Photo: Roger Brigham
McGowan co-founded the very first gay softball league in San Francisco in the early 1970s. He also helped organize the first Gay Softball World Series in 1977. What started out as a small tournament between New York and San Francisco has turned into one of the largest softball tournaments in the world -- approximately 4,000 athletes from 175 teams competed in the 2008 Gay Softball World Series in Seattle, WA.
McGowan's passion for sports elevated not only softball, but other sports as well. He wrote a sports column for the defunct Sentinel newspaper and the Bay Area Reporter, constantly highlighting LGBT sports groups.
McGowan wanted to ensure there was a place for LGBT athletes in the sports world. In an interview with Dan Woog, he described how straight athletes played on the earliest of the gay teams. And that mixture of gay and straight players working together did much to bring acceptance.
"It broke down the stereotype that gay men are unathletic," McGowan noted. "If a straight man sees a gay guy doing something the straight man is good at, he ends up respecting the gay community. He relates to gay guys on terms he can understand, and sees them as more equal."
To find out more about McGowan's accomplishments, please read this article.