By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)
Titled “Flags”, the reality show will follow the athletes and teams of various LGBTQIA+ flag football leagues all over the country and includes involvement from members of the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL). Including, Brenton Metzler and Seth Greenleaf, both of which are active flag football players, with Metzler a TV producer and Greenleaf a theater producer. Greenleaf also produced a documentary in 2017 about Gay Bowl X in Phoenix called “Flag Football” that followed a group of athletes in training and competing at the Gay Bowl.
With professional football players like Carl Nassib and Ryan Russell coming out and bringing awareness to gay and bisexual athletes in football, producers and sponsors of “Flags” feel like a show such as this are important to tell the stories of LGBTQIA+ athletes that have helped influence the perceptions of LGBTQIA+ and sports in their community. Plus, they think it’ll make for great television.
According to Greg Economou, CEO of game1 who is sponsoring “Flags”,
“Flags is precisely the right story at the right time with themes that are more culturally relevant than ever before and hopefully providing the ability to create an imprint on society that needs to be made right now,” said Economou. “Our goal with Flags is to create a piece of storytelling that is indeed universal, showing that anyone and everyone can compete at the highest levels of sport, while enduring and enjoying all that goes along with those efforts.”
One of the greater goals with “Flags” is to help elevate sports to unify people above their differences in gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, racial/ethnic background. By highlighting how we can build strength through diversity, the goal is to show the positive impact of sports on bringing together communities and how the community can create positive change through sport.
“This story is bigger than flag football or even sports,” Economou said. “It is about humanity and the push to create unity and pride throughout sports and society.”
Brent Metzler himself is excited to be on the project and make a positive contribution to the LGBTQIA+ flag football community.
“This is an absolute dream come true for me,” he said. “I’m just so happy to be able to help the league in the one way I know I can. That league saved and changed me just like it does everybody.”
And for the NGFFL itself, the series will elevate the sport and LGBTQIA+ flag football community itself, as well as highlight some of the amazing teams and players throughout the country.
“Having a series like this can widen the reach for LGBTQ+ communities and promote LGBTQ+ athletes across the world, and for people that don’t see themselves in a sport might find a sense of belonging and a renewed sense of connectivity in something they really love as well,” said NGFFL commissioner Shigeo Iwamiya.
In addition, the series will serve to break down stereotypes regarding LGBTQIA+ athletes in sports, particularly sports perceived to be more “masculine” such as football. As anybody from the LGBTQIA+ flag football as well as greater LGBTQIA+ sports community will tell you, there are no “stereotypes” when it comes to the kind of athletes you will meet and play with. For a show like “Flags” will help show the world beyond the LGBTQIA+ sports community that sport is and should always be for all.
Photo Courtesy of NGFFL