The Gay Polo League, the world’s only LGBTQ polo association, was founded in 2006 by Chip McKenney. At the time, McKenney wanted to create a space where he could meet other gay men like himself. He was over the club scene, tired of Pride parades, and was really yearning for a space where mature, well-educated gay men could come together. What he ended up creating was one of the most diverse sporting leagues on the planet.
Shortly after creating the league, which was primarily McKenney, his friends, and friends of friends, the group began attracting national attention. More players, from all walks of the LGBTQ spectrum (and their allies) began inquiring about the group. Within a few years, the league had taken on a life of its own.
The Gay Polo League began holding tournaments and attracting players from around the world. “One of the coolest things about polo,” Chip McKenney said during an interview, “is that it’s one of the only co-ed sports in the world, so our teams can be comprised of men, women, and anyone non-binary.”
One of the more notable female competitors who have joined the league is Tiffany Busch, one of America’s most prominent polo players, who joined in 2014. Tiffany said, “The Gay Polo League is a place where everyone can fully be themselves, and brings together a community of people who accept everyone for who they are.”
And that sentiment rings true throughout the league’s various events. Players come from all over the world, including countries like Algeria, Brazil, Italy, China, Argentina, and more. The league attracts both members of the LGBTQ community and allies alike, and spans the spectrum of gender. “We’re even inclusive with age,” McKenney said, “our youngest player is 23, and our oldest is 73.”
McKenney also loves that the league grew into an open and welcoming space. “I created the league because I wanted to meet men who were just like me. But what ended up happening, was the league introduced me to people from all walks of life that I would have never met otherwise, and that’s the true power of the Gay Polo League.”
Each year, the League plays its tournament at the International Polo Club in Palm Beach, Florida, and attracts an audience of more than 5,000 spectators. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed until September, and is now taking place at the International Polo Club in Newport, Rhode Island. “This is actually going to be really exciting,” McKenney said. “The venue we’re using this year in Newport is one of America’s most historic polo clubs. It’s going to be a really exciting time!”
This year for the first time in the 11 year history of the tournament, Lexus is taking the reins as the Title Sponsor. “An elegant luxury brand, Lexus aligns perfectly with the vision of the Gay Polo League’s flagship tournament, as the performance and style of Lexus vehicles equally match the precision and artistry of equestrian sport,” explained McKenney.
“We are thrilled to partner with GPL and continue the rich tradition of the International Gay Polo Tournament.” said Mia Phillips, Senior Manager, Lexus Marketing.
The event will also be taking all the measures required by the CDC and the city of Newport for cleanliness. Crowd size will be limited and extra sanitation measures will be implemented throughout the venue. And for anyone unable to travel during the pandemic, the Gay Polo League will be uploading highlights to their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
If you would like to attend the event this September, Tiffany Busch has some extra words of encouragement. “Not only is the polo a blast and competitive,” Busch said, “but the after parties and the social life are never disappointing either!”