Pride and some friendly competition will be on display as Honolulu hosts Gay Bowl XXII

Organizers say the bowl will bring in millions to the state and offer new visibility to gay athletes in Honolulu.
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 3:37 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 4:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 1,000 flag football players are arriving on Oahu this week for Gay Bowl XXII, a national Flag Football League tournament that’s expected to be the largest LGBTQ+ event ever in Hawaii.

Organizers say the bowl will bring in millions to the state and offer new visibility to gay athletes in Honolulu.

Players of “Riptide” will represent Hawaii with four teams in the tournament.

“Because it’s on home turf, you know I want to win,” said HIGFFL player Elliot Dimacali. “So my team has been practicing a lot. But at the same time, we want to make sure that we keep the spirit of it.

“We can’t wait until everyone gets here. We get to show them around and have lots of fun.”

Organizers expect about 800 players and up to 200 other out-of-town guests for the tournament at Kapiolani Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Gay Bowl XXII Tournament Director Ty Law said there’ll be 12 fields set up.

Planning for the event began years ago. Honolulu was chosen as the host city for 2020, but all that excitement ended when the pandemic forced the Hawaii Gay Flag Football League to cancel.

Now, they get a do-over.

“We were super disappointed about it, but we also took it as an opportunity to kind of reset ourselves and use this as a learning base,” Law said. “Now we can take it to the next level and complete it for this one.”

They’ve been fundraising ever since — climbing to over $100,000. That includes a $25,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Many believe the event will be a money-maker for Oahu and prove the LGBTQ+ community can attract big business. But players say, more importantly, it’s about representation and another step in the fight for equality.

”A lot of gay people play sports and they’ve had to hide,” Dimacali said.

“And so now that there’s this exposure, I hope that people can openly play sports, and not be someone they’re not. So this avenue is wonderful. And I’m glad that we have it.”

In all, 135 games will be played over the three-day event.

The first games kick off at 8 a.m. on Friday. The championship game starts at noon on Sunday.