Home » The 2024 LEXUS International Gay Polo Tournament

The 2024 LEXUS International Gay Polo Tournament

The Event Raised $100,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation

by Matt Schueller
Rider on Polo Pony (Photo by @MichaelandMatt)

GPL raises visibility and advocates against the stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ community and raises crucial funds for the fight against HIV and AIDS around the world.

Rider on Polo Pony (Photo by @MichaelandMatt) — By Matthew Schueller

The LEXUS International Gay Polo Tournament is more than just a sporting event, it’s a huge collaboration between several organizations and a passionate community raising visibility of LGBTQ+ people in a very important way.

For the last 13 years, Gay Polo League, under the leadership of Chip McKenney, has organized matches and tournaments for LGBTQ+ polo players and allies around the world.

This year, 16 polo players collectively from the USA, England, France, Germany, Canada, Peru, and Argentina came together in West Palm Beach to battle it out for two ultimate prizes, the Senator’s Cup and the Founder’s Cup.

Before my husband, Michael and I boarded our plane, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Neither Michael nor I had ever watched a polo match in our lives, we started to feel our nerves tingle wondering how the event might go and if we’d appear a bit out-of-place. I hurriedly started to research anything I could find on the event and what to expect. My curiosity was piqued.

Lexus GX Parked Tent-side (Photo by @MaichaelandMatt)

Lexus GX Parked Tent-side (Photo by @MaichaelandMatt)

Upon arriving to Wellington, also known as the Winter Equestrian Capital of the World, we immediately got dressed in our polo-best and prepared ourselves for the first event of the weekend, the VIP Sponsor’s Reception. We felt incredibly honored to attend this evening soiree at Patagones Polo Club, overlooking the tournament field and club stables.

GPL athlete, Peter Secor was among the first polo players to arrive at the party and immediately welcomed us with a hug. Any doubts or nerves we had prior to arriving quickly dissipated as we started meeting the players over a crisp round of chardonnay.

Adam Glick, senior philanthropy director at the Elton John AIDS Foundation, opened the event by speaking on behalf of the organization. The Elton John AIDS Foundation is a grant making organization that has provided over $600 million over the last 32 years to organizations that help in the fight against HIV, AIDS, and the stigmatization of LGBTQ+ people.

EJAF Check Presentation: L-R Cameron Gayner and Adam Glick of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Margaret H. Duprey of Cherry Knoll Farm, Chip McKenney, Founder & President, GPL Polo Club. (Photo by Sara Cole)

EJAF Check Presentation: L-R Cameron Gayner and Adam Glick of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Margaret H. Duprey of Cherry Knoll Farm, Chip McKenney, Founder & President, GPL Polo Club. (Photo by Sara Cole)

Adam greeted the crowd and continued speaking about their mission, “equity is a tremendous issue for people’s access to the treatments we so desperately need.” Adam noted the statistics, and we were astonished to learn that for children aged 15 through 19 in Sub Saharan Africa, AIDS is still one of the leading causes of death. This really struck me, as it brings attention to HIV and AIDS not just being issues of the past, but very real, palpable problems we are still facing today.

Now, the true purpose of the weekend came into view. It’s not just about getting together and having a great time while watching an exciting sport, GPL raises visibility and advocates against the stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ community and raises crucial funds for the fight against HIV and AIDS around the world. After a toast to the weekend, and the good work that it represents, we celebrated as the 4 attending teams were each presented their tournament jerseys.

Gay Polo League Wigstock Michael, Eva and Matt (Photo by @michaelandmatt)

Michael, Eva and Matt (Photo by @michaelandmatt)

The party continued on the second evening with GPL’s Polotini Wigstock. We were astonished by the creativity amongst the group, especially admiring GPL athlete, Eva Marquard’s Carnival-inspired look. The evening culminated with a stunning performance of traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by Wellington’s Fushu Taiko group. After the performance, the dance floor opened and wigs began to fly, ours included! Dancing the night away with our new friends, the excitement built for tomorrow’s main event – the LEXUS International Gay Polo Tournament final matches.

Arriving early to the field, we watched eagerly as everyone prepared their tailgating-quarters. After all, the day isn’t just about the competition on the field, but off the field as well! Every year, the tournament prides itself in exquisite tailgates, with various attendees and sponsors competing for the best tailgate award.

Everything about the day was elevated: from the extraordinarily decorated tailgate parties, to the gorgeous horses (and players) trotting down the field, to the Lexus TX and all-new Lexus GX. Later with the cars parked tent-side, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to check them out. Opening the door and taking a seat in the leather-trimmed interior, I nearly jumped as the seat started automatically adjusting itself.

Lexus GX On Parade with Teams (Photo by Alden Corrigan Media)

Lexus GX On Parade with Teams (Photo by Alden Corrigan Media)

Before the second match, a parade of flags took place led by the Pride flag to symbolize inclusivity, equality, and love. Players carried each other’s national flags on horseback, flying them high around the field as onlookers cheered. The tournament came to a close with the presentation of trophies to the winning teams. The Founders Cup was awarded to Goshen Hill, and the Senators Cup was awarded to Cherry Knoll Farm. Before we knew it, we were saying our goodbyes. I couldn’t believe all that we had experienced in such a short amount of time. Though we were just getting introduced to the sport, GPL made us feel like we had been a part of the community from the very beginning.

We asked MVP awardee Gus Larrosa what the GPL meant to him. And without hesitation, he answered, “It isn’t something you can explain. It’s something you have to come and feel.” Truthfully, it really is. We can positively say that it’s one of a kind, and something that should be experienced in person! We’re incredibly thankful for the opportunity to attend the LEXUS International Gay Polo Tournament, and we cannot wait to come back again as soon as possible.

You Can Discover More About GPL Here: www.gaypolo.com

And Discover More about the new Lexus GX550 Here: https://www.lexus.com/models/GX


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The Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament

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