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Inclusion, equality and change are all words that run across my mind daily. While we understand the definitions of these words, we also relate them to people who truly fight for what they believe. For nearly two decades, we have worked for equality in sports through the Gay Polo League. It has afforded us opportunities to meet wonderfully diverse people, have conversations with true change makers, and to elevate our experiences to shift conversations. Our work expands beyond the game of polo and equestrian sports.
Our work has impacted decisions such as the village of Wellington extending health benefits to employees who were nonmarried couples (gay and straight); provided and encouraged supportive environments for LGBTQ+ athletes to train and compete in their respective sports without having to hide who they are; embracing models of diversity in all walks of life, and always supporting other nonprofit organizations who are moving the needle forward.
As we quickly approach our annual LEXUS International Gay Polo Tournament - Presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate taking place April 7 to 10 in Wellington, we are thrilled to be recognized for our work. Receiving the prestigious Palm Beach County Sports Commission “Champion of Equity & Diversity Award” speaks volumes about the impact we have had. Winning this award from a nongay organization is validation for diversity event organizers like GPL. It reflects a belief in the value our event(s) brings to the community as well as recognition of LGBTQ athletes and their supporters. We are proud that GPL has become an instrument of change and often times introduces gay people into the lives and consciousness of people who may not have known gay people firsthand.
Our dream was always for the Gay Polo League to create an atmosphere that affirms and supports the understanding and acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, sexual preference, sexual identity or gender. We remain the only LGBTQ+ sporting event in Palm Beach County.
The award will officially be bestowed during the 45th annual Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame Awards Celebration at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. GPL will be the second polo entity recognized by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
I continue to believe that differences are teachers, and values embracing, celebrating and elevating the benefits of diversity. I would love to personally invite the community to join us at the tournament. Join us as an ally, and together we can advance equality.
Chip McKenney is founder of the Gay Polo League.