Gay polo up!

May 3 was the Will Rogers Polo Club's "Club Chukkers" day...and one of the clubs invited to play was the Gay Polo League. It was your typical relaxed Southern California polo-match scene. Several horse pullmans were parked in the shade. Dozens of loaner polo ponies stood around quietly, tacked up and tails knotted. Beside the grass field, lots of goodies and drinks were spread on tables. Lots of dogs and kids were underfoot. Spectators gathered along the embankment above the field.

At 9:30 a.m., GPL's Team Maximus -- Chip McKenney, Tom Landry, Abe Hernandez and Jeffrey squared off against GPL's other team, the Hollywood Hookers --Greg Wildman, Jim Linhart, Gina Padella, Hal Swanson and Parker Williams. The only woman player, Gina was right in the thick of things. When the divots finally stopped flying from galloping hoofs, Team Maximus had won 8-5.

"We're really improving!" GPL founder Chip told me afterwards. He and co-founder Tom Landry had already brought me up to date on the GPL's growing reputation, and the warm welcome they're getting from mainstream polo clubs. During the next year, the GPL will be playing by invitation at several clubs up and down California, and other countries. While so many other sports seem to get tangled in homophobia, it seems like non-gay poloists are more interested in just whacking the ball around with us.

Incidentally, this polo field is part of a ranch property that once belonged to Will Rogers. The famed cowboy humorist loved the uncowboyish sport of polo, and built the field in 1926. After his widow died in 1944, the property became Will Rogers State Park, on condition that polo be played there forever. Located just off Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, the place is little changed from Rogers' day. His ranch-type home still overlooks the field from higher up the brushy slope. It's the only grass polo field left in Los Angeles County.

For L.A. Outsports readers, a polo match at this park is a nice (and cheap) way to spend a weekend day. The only charge is $8 to park your car. Bring a picnic and some shade. For more information on upcoming matches, check these websites -- Gay Polo League and Will Rogers Polo Club.

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