The world’s only LGBTQ polo league is returning to Wellington, Florida ushering in stallions, world class professional polo players and an inimitable atmosphere of riotous color, vibrant celebration and inclusion for all individuals regardless of race, sex, gender, or sexual identity or orientation.

The Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament (GPL) will be held between April 4-6 at the Patagones Polo Club in Wellington, Florida and organizers are predicting a substantial turnout.

 

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Founder Chip McKenney established the event almost two decades ago as a way to expand his LGBTQ social network in Los Angeles, California.

“It started informally with just a few friends and friends of friends attending monthly polo clinics at the Santa Barbara Polo Club,” said McKenney. “The next year, we gained more participants in terms of both members of the LGBTQ community and allies and then, it really took off.”

Over 3000 players, attendees and revelers join the festivities throughout the year all around the world, from Argentina (home to the world’s first formal match in 1875) to London to Saint-Tropez to the sun splashed shores of South Florida.

“I began to strategically elevate awareness of the Gay Polo League throughout the sport of polo and LGBTQ communities and developed a narrative that reflected the core values of the league:  supportive, safe, encouraging and always fun,” McKenney said. 

The three-day affair will feature an invitation-only welcome reception for players on Thursday, the Polotini Wigstock party on Friday, April 5 in which guests are encouraged don fabulous hairpieces and outrageous extensions and the main event on Saturday, April 6 in which 16 players from all over the globe compete for The Senator’s Cup and The Founders Cup.

“Growing up, I did not see openly gay athletes identified on television. I assumed I was the only gay person who loved sports. In my adulthood, I witnessed how even the idea of being out could potentially ruin an athlete’s career,” McKenney said. “The Gay Polo League provides a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ athletes to train and compete, openly and authentically.”

“The Gay Polo League has become an instrument of change and oftentimes introduces gay people into the lives and consciousness of people who have not known gay people first hand,” he added. 

Keeping in the spirit of competition, attendees will also have the opportunity to compete for the event’s tailgate competition. Less beer and burgers and more crafting elaborate and fanciful tableaus, the tailgate contest is one of GPL weekend’s most interactive experiences with numerous coveted prizes up for grabs such as Best in Show, Best Cuisine, Best Cocktail, Best Single Tailgate and Best Multiple Tailgate.

“While Gay Polo events are fun and competitive, it is really the desire for equality that pushes us to do more and evolve every year,” McKenney said. “In addition to elevating LGBTQ athletes and creating awareness, we want to engage more people about the issues the LGBTQ community faces which, we hope, will lead to understanding, respect and empathy. Understanding is the cornerstone for equity and inclusion.” 

To echo the words of Harvey Milk – hope is never silent – and the Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament promises to be a boisterous and hopeful event shouting out inclusivity, diversity and above all, pride.

Proceeds from this year’s event benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation which supports HIV prevention, education programs, direct care and support services to people living with or at risk of HIV.