An athlete might be faster, stronger, and even meaner than his straight teammates, but the stigma of being gay in the locker room is still more than even the toughest can bear. There is currently not one openly gay professional athletes in pro football, baseball, basketball, or hockey, and before Michael Sam in 2014, professional football had not produced a single openly gay player in its 90-year history. American sports continue to place a premium on conventional masculinity.
F(L)AG FOOTBALL follows a group of competitive gay athletes on their journey to the National Gay Flag Football Championships. What emerges is a portrait of stereotype-breaking athletes wrestling with complex identities and team dynamics, all while competing in 90-plus degree heat for the chance to be crowned – Champions.
Founded in 2002, the National Gay Flag Football League has grown from an informal grassroots organization into an enormously successful network of over 200 competitive teams in 21 cities across the country. For many high-level athletes, the League is the first time they have played as openly gay men. No longer under the pressure of high school, college, and professional football culture, these players are letting go of their fears of being discovered, rejected, or worse, and in the process, discovering more alive and authentic versions of themselves.
Every fall, the best players from across the country converge for the annual Gay Bowl. Gay Bowl X, the subject of F(l)ag Football, follows the 27 teams that descend on Phoenix, AZ for four days of games, parties, and for one team, a $1,000 1st place Lombardi trophy to commemorate the trip.
The film hones in on teams from New York, Los Angeles, and Phoenix as they train for the chance to win what they work for all year long. Members of the teams include former NFL Corner-back, Wade Davis, and Outsports founder, Cyd Zeigler, among many other former high school and college all-Americans, many of them playing sports for the first time in their lives as out athletes. These players break stereotypes, challenge norms, and redefine masculinity in their own unique way. Each team has its own flavor and every player a different relationship to what it means to be a gay athlete.
Dreams of a professional career may be behind them but the more personal fantasy of playing as their true selves is enough to bring out their best, on the field, and off. Beyond that, it’s football as usual, and players working together towards one goal, representing their city and striving to be the best. With everything on the line, some teams will come together and others will show their cracks, but every one will have a chance to play out, play proud, and show the world that with hiding behind them, these guys aren’t slowing down for anyone! Directed by Tony Award-winning producer and director, Seth Greenleaf.