The Grassroots Game: Portland’s Queerly Beloved
With all eyes on the teams playing in this summer's tournament, we're speaking to people who play football in neighborhoods around the world. In this series, local grassroots clubs share their passion for playing football and how they hope it'll impact the communities around them. Here are the players of Queerly Beloved, which is based in Portland, Oregon.
Equality on the pitch isn’t just about growing the women’s game, but making sure that people of all genders have a safe place to play. Creating that space is one of the goals of Queerly Beloved. The team is part of NetRippers FC, Portland’s only LGBTQ+ football club and its aim is to center and promote the genderqueer and trans experience in football.
Obstacles for genderqueer players might not be something you even think about, like league rules that say only a woman can take a free kick, or limiting the number of men allowed on the field. Team captain Kim Bowen says that these kinds of rules police the gender of people who may not be men or women. But Kim is hopeful for change. “I see football trending more towards equality as we see more openly queer players in all areas of our leagues,” they say.
Kim adds that while they’re breaking down barriers, the players of Queerly Beloved are just like everyone in grassroots football – they love a good match … and a pizza party afterwards.
"When I play football, I can step out of my mind and, if only for a minute, float above it all. I can immerse myself in the team, a human machine that is fueled by the love of football. My ball skills, my quick touches, my defensive shielding, all become who I am, instead of my physical appearance. Playing football is freedom."
Irving Rettig, Defender/Midfielder
"Playing sports is a privilege because it’s not accessible to people who don't fit neatly into the gender binary, or the categories of male and female. When people come out as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth, there are sacrifices involved and sports is commonly one of them. Queerly Beloved provides a space for people to reconnect with something they felt like they had to give up."
Rosalynn Greene, Team Captain
"Queerly Beloved allows folks to spend their energies playing and enjoying football, rather than trying to fit into a certain space, or being worried about how others are perceiving them."
C. Riley Hostetter, Midfielder
"Being trans means I recognize and feel the restrictive gender expectations put on me by people and institutions on a daily basis. But when I play, I feel that weight disappear."
"What do we get out of grassroots football? The sense of community, the challenge of a tough match, and the ability to eat an entire pizza afterwards."
Kim Bowen, Team Captain
FOR ALL THINGS FOOTBALL, DOWNLOAD THE NIKE APP
Follow your favorite teams and players with the Nike App as they compete on the world stage this summer in France.