My flag football team just finished our first game of the season — a nip and tuck affair that got away from us late in the second half — when I walked off the field and saw Robert Kraft. One of the most successful and powerful owners in pro sports was taking time out of his Saturday morning to visit a nondescript park deep in Dorchester and schmooze with gaggles of football-loving gays.
It’s hard to imagine many other owners doing the same thing.
The Patriots are a longtime sponsor of FLAG Flag Football Boston, Boston’s premier gay flag football league. It’s a wonderful organization of which I’ve been apart since 2016, and where I’ve met some of my best friends.
And all of us were free to chat up the patriarch of the NFL’s greatest dynasty. The Patriots were there helping us organize a drive for Hope & Comfort, a local organization that works to eliminate hygiene insecurity for youth and families.
An astounding 25,000 items were donated.
The Patriots have made championing LGBTQ rights a pillar of their success. Fifteen years ago, Kraft signed onto an ad affirming his support for two gay people to marry in the state of Massachusetts.
He told me Saturday Boston’s Catholic Church wasn’t thrilled with him for that, before shrugging his shoulders as if to say, “oh well.”
The Patriots have only ramped up their support for the LGBTQ community since then. They became the first NFL team to sponsor Gay Bowl, the National Gay Flag Football League’s annual championship tournament, back when Boston hosted the event in 2017.
Since then, every NFL team has followed suit. The Arizona Cardinals are sponsoring this year’s Gay Bowl later this month.
Josh Kraft, who serves as president of the New England Patriots Foundation and was also present Saturday, told me earlier this year standing up for LGBTQ rights embodies his family’s core values of inclusivity and acceptance.
“We’re doing the best we can to be great allies, but we’re aspiring to be the best advocates as possible for the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “We just have — whether it’s religious, ethnic, sexual orientation differences — we’re all the same people.”
Indeed. And on Saturday, we were all there watching football. Sports bring everyone together, including a billionaire business mogul and yours truly, a sweaty twink in desperate pursuit of a post-game libation.
But first, I needed a pic with RKK himself. I’m glad he obliged.