In 2010, the surge of LGBT youth suicides horrified the nation. While the bullying epidemic came as a shock to many, the struggles of growing up gay were all too familiar for many members of the DC Gay Flag Football League (DCGFFL), who is reaching out to lend a helping hand.
The group’s campaign began with an “It Gets Better” video featuring players sharing personal stories of hope and experience. Once on YouTube the views quickly grew into the thousands and triggered an outpouring of letters from struggling youth across the country.
“There are so many gay kids out there that think they’re alone. We’ve been there and if there’s anything we can do to save lives, then we’ll do it.” said JJ Johnson, president of the DCGFFL.
Following the success of the video, league members launched a scholarship fund for local gay high school athletes. While initial fund raising efforts raised close to $4,000, the members decided to go to extreme measures to build a program which honors the bravery required to come out in sports.
The league created a two year calendar titled “Shirts & Skins.” The provocative calendar features both gay members of the league as well as several straight players. The calendar retails for $20 with approximately half of the proceeds funding LGBT youth based programming.
“Shirts & Skins” was developed through corporate sponsorships, player donations and the support of several volunteers. William Waybourn Photography and Tony Frye Design have both signed on to complete the visual development at no cost to the organization.
The DC Gay Flag Football League seeks to foster an athletic community among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight allies living in the greater Washington, DC area. The league launched its first season in September 2010 with seven teams totaling 90 men and women. In its second season, the league grew to 12 teams totaling 180 men and women.
For more information regarding the DC Gay Flag Football League or the organization’s LGBT scholarship program, visit dcgffl.org.