Rhode Island gay bowling league celebrates 10th anniversary
Big Gay Al’s Bowling League wrapped up its 10th and most successful season to date last week. Gays, straights, lesbians and transgenders comprise the 32 teams that played to raise money for local organizations. These include AIDS Project Rhode Island, AIDS Care Ocean State, P-FLAG, Youth Pride, Inc., and Marriage Equality Rhode Island.
Members raised $5,200 this year. And they have fundraised approximately $40,000 over the last decade.
The league plays at Johnston’s Town Hall Lanes, which openly gay state Rep. Frank Ferri [D-Warwick] owns. Town Hall Lanes, which features duckpin bowling, celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Ferri’s family bought the bowling alley in 1984.
Ferri described Big Gay Al’s is the largest gay bowling league in the country. The four-member teams have irreverent names like Tea Baggers, Sadistic Bitches and Split Happens. Friends and family members are welcome to come and cheer on their favorite teams. If a player is absent, substitutes are welcome to play.
The 15-week season begins in May and ends in August with a barbecue.
Trophies are awarded for the top three teams. Individual awards are also presented. There are also raffles and giveaways. T-Shirts with the league logo were handed out to every bowler in honor of the 10th anniversary.
Leo Monteiro and Manny Rebello, who wanted to create a place for gays and lesbians to socialize and have fun, created the league 10 years ago. Rebello described the BGAL is "a place for people to go during the summer." And he noted he feels the league was a "friendly, relaxed atmosphere for GLBTS" to hang out.
Monteiro added there were never any plans to have separate leagues for men and women. The league started with only a handful of teams, but this number has continued to grow every year.
Members come from all Rhode Island to play. There are also players from Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Diane Silvia of Newport has been bowling with the league for eight years. And she has been friends with Monteiro and Rebello for more than two decades.
"It was just natural for me to come and bowl with them," Silvia, who has an average of 130, said.
Log onto www.bgalbowling.com for more information.