The gay polo league masters the fine arts of hosting a grand spectacle. More about a good vibe and bubbly than pomp and circumstance, the Gay Polo League prides itself in knowing it can throw a party. Arrive at the group’s flagship event, the Annual International Gay Polo Tournament held every April, and you’re greeted by a frenzy of color and outrageous revelry. You might run into a group of lumberjacks in tight denim shorts and unbuttoned flannels or a dashing group of ladies and gents sporting varying shades of yellow and sipping on refreshing cocktails.
But make no mistake. While the fans and supporters create the event’s festive ambiance, the players on the field are skilled, well trained, competitive and passionately dedicated to the sport of polo. Every year top-rated pros and GPL players from as far away as France, Argentina, South Africa and Australia descend on Wellington to vie for top prize.
Chip McKenney, a player and lifelong horseman, founded the league — which welcomes members of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels — almost 10 years ago. In that time its membership and fan base has grown exponentially. With a mission to provide a safe and welcoming environment where members of the LGBT community (and beyond) can enjoy the camaraderie, confidence building and physical workout that are hallmarks of team sports, the league has established a loyal following. It is the only gay polo league in the world, and it’s right here in South Florida.
Though some may still be surprised to find out about the existence of the Gay Polo League, its growth became abundantly clear as plans were being made for the last tournament, the league’s sixth. The event was moved from the Grand Champions Polo Club to the much larger International Polo Club Palm Beach to better accommodate all the activities leading up to the tournament, the elaborate tailgates that are a signature part of the event and, of course, the matches themselves.
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After a few tough matches, Team J.P. Morgan Community, the home team, won the cup this year. McKenney was recognized as the team’s MVP.
Off the field there were winners too. The tailgates’ themed presentations are definitely worthy of recognition and a little glory as well. This year, the Chapel of Love group won “Most Enthusiastic Spirit;” the fashionable members of Kevin Clark and the VIP Yellow Party earned “Best Cuisine;” “Best Dressed” went to none other than the lumberjacks (it turns out crisp Bermuda shorts, sun dresses and loafers aren’t the judges’ style); and “Best in Show,” well that could only go to the team that set up an entire 1980s beauty salon, complete with retro hair dryers, stylist chairs and plenty of Tab and Aqua Net for all the big hair. Well done Gert’s Cut & Curl Salon.