By Kevin Majoros
For many people in the LGBT Community, fitting into the definition of an athlete is not something they would have considered for themselves. Fear of being bullied along with the perception that being gay and being an athlete were incompatible led many members of the LGBT community to choose not to compete.
Fortunately, that perception is fading away, especially for adults as LGBT sports leagues, tournaments and events are now commonplace in the United States. The LGBT sports diversity movement is in full swing and safe spaces to enjoy athletics are now being offered in a multitude of sports. The newly emerging LGBT athletes are enjoying their own sports renaissance. Yet in an interesting twist, they often don’t realize that what they are accomplishing defines them as an athlete.
When asked about his sporty side, Josh Zimmerman stated, “I don’t really have one.” His story indicates otherwise. Growing up in Orange Park, Florida, Zimmerman was focused on being a student though he did discover tennis in high school. After finishing his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Florida, he moved to D.C. in 2005 where he works as a patent examiner with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Six years ago Zimmerman became involved with Cross- Fit and found that he was more interested in the Olympic weightlifting aspect of it. With CrossFit gaining popularity and more people interested in learning the snatch and clean and jerk, Zimmerman completed the certification needed to become a Level 2 USA Olympic weightlifting coach and competed in a local meet.
During that same period he was competing annually in the DC Dragon Boat Festival in paddleboat racing on the Potomac River. He was part of an LGBT community organization called AQUA that climbed to the top of the podium, winning the open division one year.
Just this past winter Zimmerman, who was substituting in a loosely-formed group of LGBT athletes playing walleyball (similar to volleyball but played on a four-walled court), was approached by Team DC executive director Brent Minor who asked him to participate in the annual Team DC Fashion Show and Model Search.
Team DC is the information clearinghouse for roughly 35 LGBT sports teams and clubs in the DC metropolitan area. The fashion show and model search is an annual fundraiser for the Team DC College Scholarship Fund that awards money to openly gay local student-athletes.
Since the creation of the scholarship fund in 2008, Team DC has awarded LGBT student-athletes with 30 scholarships totaling nearly $40,000. This month at the Team DC Champions Awards, nine more student-athletes will be awarded a scholarship, marking the largest number of recipients in a single year.
Zimmerman was a big part of the fundraising this year as he was named top model by the panel of judges at the fashion show and model search. Zimmerman wasn’t sure what to expect when he hit the stage that night. “I had never done anything like that before,” he says. “Some of the outfits were more revealing than I was expecting, but I had a good time.”
The show featured 14 models who showcased the lat est fashions from FM Leather Designs, TrickBox, Ex Nihilo, Body Aware, Fireboy, UnderBriefs, Mensuas, Skiviez, Bite the Fruit, Universal Gear and Tattee Boy. Following the judging portion of the show, the donated clothing was auctioned off the bodies of the models.
These days Zimmerman can be found on the ten nis courts twice a week hitting with members of the Capital Tennis Association and in the weight room at the gym. “I guess I do have a sporty side,” he concedes. “As an adult, I have come to appreciate sports more than I did in the past.”
Photos by Robert Mercer of Ripped Genes, LLC.
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