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Moment #41: The founding of the International Gay Bowling Organization

Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.

Bowling, 1980. While softball, aquatics and other sports get many of the headlines, the largest sport-based gay organization in the world is the International Gay Bowling Organization. In the 1970s, gay leagues began emerging but the sport really took off in the community after six cities got together to form the International Gay Bowling Organization. From six groups at its start to now almost 200 in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, IGBO claims 17,000 worldwide members. From IGBO's Web site:

The International Gay Bowling Organization, or "IGBO", began as a simple idea in 1980 by league bowlers in North America. The "seed" was laid on August 29th, 1980 when representatives from six cities met in Los Angeles CA to participate in a joint bowling/softball tournament hosted by the Inter-City Athletic Union of Los Angeles. The representatives from Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York City, San Diego and Toronto agreed that there was a strong need for an organization to help unify a growing gay and lesbian bowling community.

Something that makes the league so special is the sport's inherent ability to bring people of every age and athletic ability together on the same lane. Whether you're a 70-year-old man and have a 105 bowling average or are a 30-year-old woman and have a 205 bowling average, you can compete in the same tournament because of handicaps. Plus, the sport is accessible to even those who don't like "sports" because it focuses less on athletic endeavors like running and jumping and more on the cerebral aspects of sports like focus and precision.

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