SouthFlorida.com
Make every weekend epic with our free Weekender newsletter. Sign up today!

Video: Gay Polo League brings the party to South Florida

The Gay Polo League is the only one of its kind. And because the organization calls South Florida home, LGBT players from several countries were here April 5-8 for the ninth annual Land Rover Palm Beach International Gay Polo Tournament.

Chip McKenney, founder and president of the league, says: “Our gay tournament is the only LGBTQ-identified polo tournament in the world. So we occupy a very unique space within the global sport of polo.”

Most of the action took place at Wellington’s International Polo Club Palm Beach, but there was also a fundraiser Friday night at the nearby Wanderers Club for the Compass Community Center’s LGBTQ Youth Services programs.

“It’s amazing,” Sabrine Pearson, Compass’ transgender-youth-services coordinator, says of the tournament. “I mean you think about [how] the event itself is so fun, so amazing, but then you throw the LGBT culture into it and the creativity, and it’s something you’ve never seen before. It’s amazing, everyone just letting their hair down and being themselves. It’s a beautiful thing.”

McKenney, who started the Gay Polo League about 12 years ago, says the event has expanded from one day to four.

“The first year that we started we were thrilled, because we ended up having 900 spectators,” McKenney recalls. “We actually thought we might have probably 50 at the most, and those would all be friends and family that came to watch us. Currently, over the nine years, we’ve evolved into a four-day event.”

The numbers aren’t in yet, but it is estimated that about 4,000 people attended over the four days.

McKenney adds that Compass’ ideals and programs “align perfectly” with those of the Gay Polo League. Compass is located in Lake Worth and serves all Palm Beach County.

“The youth that comes into Compass, we serve ages 12 to 18, experience a variety of things,” says Amanda Canete, youth program director for the LGBTQ community center. “Definitely mental health — access to reliable, competent mental health for any of the issues that they are going through, access to housing, access to transportation, because we are the only direct service provider for LGBT youth. Getting to Compass can be difficult for them, especially at a younger age when they’re not able to drive.”

For more information on Compass, go to CompassGLCC.com. For more on the Gay Polo League, go to GayPolo.com.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

Copyright © 2018, South Florida
83°