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LGBT Sports history: first Gay Softball World Series debuts in the era of disco

The Gay Softball World Series was born in 1977, the same year as “Saturday Night Fever.”

‘Saturday Night Fever’ Soundtrack Album
John Travolta and The Bee Gees appear on the cover of the soundtrack album from the film ‘Saturday Night Fever,’ 1977. Published by RSO Records
Photo by Blank Archives/Getty Images

All month long, Outsports has been revisiting key moments in gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer sports history as part of LGBTQ history month. Today, before the Washington Nationals play the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the MLB World Series, we’re putting on our leisure suits and bellbottoms to disco-dance our way back to 1977.

That was not only the year “Saturday Night Fever” made John Travolta a star and launched the disco craze, it was also when the first Gay Softball World Series was played, as told by Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski on September 23, 2011:

The owner of the Badlands bar in San Francisco teamed up with bar owners in New York to send the Ramrod team west to play in a best three-of-five series. Badlands won and the Gay Softball World Series was born.

The following year, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance was formed as more cities joined and softball was established as the premier gay sport.

One of the driving forces behind the creation of the series was Chuck Dima, a New York bar owner. Dima died this spring and tributes poured in from those who remembered this sporting pioneer. The NAGAAA said this:

For both national and international gay softball, Chuck was not just a true visionary, but a visionary with all the drive, motivation and talent to make a dream into a reality. Chuck helped take the rather simple idea of two gay softball teams from San Francisco and New York City playing in a tournament and transformed it into a larger goal, the goal of having an international softball organization that would yearly demonstrate the best of the best in gay softball.

This goal came to fruition with the formation of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA). Today, NAGAAA incorporates 41 individual softball leagues across the United States and Canada and boasts a total LBGT membership of over 10,000 people. It also hosts the largest annual gay sporting event in the world, the Gay Softball World Series (GSWS). We, as its members and as an organization as a whole, are indebted to Chuck and those with whom he worked for providing us with such incredible opportunities.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of softball and the Gay World Series to gay sports history. For years, gay softball was about the only game in town for gay and lesbian jocks. Even though the bar culture was woven into leagues in each city via sponsorships and places to hang out, softball got people outdoors and working up a sweat in a fun, non-judgmental atmosphere. In 2011, the Gay Softball World Series celebrated its 35th anniversary. If gay sports has its founding fathers, it’s people like Dima and those who formed the first gay softball leagues and that bicoastal series in 1977 that turned into a legacy.

For more information:

Tomorrow— as we have every day in October — we’ll bring you one more story of LGBTQ Sports history to close out the month. Thanks for reading! And please, burn that white suit.

John Travolta In ‘Saturday Night Fever’
John Travolta In ‘Saturday Night Fever’ 1977
Photo by Paramount/Getty Images
John Travolta In ‘Saturday Night Fever’
John Travolta In ‘Saturday Night Fever’ 1977
Photo by Paramount/Getty Images