I have never enjoyed shaking someone's hand more than the softball player I met on Saturday night.
After our tournament games on Saturday, I was talking to the Toddtender at a softball party held at CC Slaughters, and this cute girl walks up to me and reaches out her hand.
"Hi. You caught the ball I hit into right field today. I was so mad at you. It was the first time I've ever been able to place the ball in right field."
That was such a great moment. All those years I spent being afraid of sports - sure that I had no athletic ability whatsoever. Hell, the whole reason I quit playing flag football in elementary school was because I thought I could never get any better at it. I was asked to join the swim team in high school, but I declined because I thought I'd cause our team to lose every swim meet. I never played basketball because I thought I couldn't learn the rules.
All of it was a lie.
Why do we let ourselves be brainwashed when we're young? Kids take in everything they hear. The world tells them who they are, and children believe it. Gay men face this more than most men, since we're programmed to believe we are not normal or that we aren't real men. Anybody, straight or gay, who has the idea that gay men are "less than" just needs to spend a single Sunday afternoon at the ballpark watching Portland gay softball teams play. I saw some of the studliest guys I've ever seen this weekend, and they were serious athletes. VERY tough competition.
My team didn't place in the tournament, and I know that I have lots of room for improvement. However, I did race to home plate in a rather dramatic moment during one of the games and scored a run for our team. (The opposing team was sure I'd stop at third base, but I surprised them!)
I caught a couple pop flies and even had an umpire tell me, "That was a nice catch you made out there today, sir."
Yes, me! Shake my hand!