Austin Torch Pride 2021
The Torch is donating its proceeds from the sale of its Pride merch to the Transgender Education Network of Texas. VC is matching the PUL's donation.
About Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT)
TENT is an organization dedicated to furthering gender diverse equality in Texas. We work to accomplish this through education and networking in both public and private forums. Through our efforts we strive to halt discrimination through social, legislative, and corporate education.
We asked Rachel Yeager and Tim "Bonesaw" Kepner from the Austin Torch about the team and its relationship with Pride.
Austin Torch Pride 2021
Tell us a bit about the Torch – any history, your vibe, organization culture (as it pertains to equity, LGBTQ2S+, inclusivity).
Rachel: I guess this is a personal view, but I think most of my fellow queer teammates feel the same. With around 50 percent of the squad identifying with the LGBTQ2S+, I feel like I can always be myself and show our pride.
We’ve got rainbows flying all over the place between the jerseys, discs, flags, tattoos, or socks!
Bonesaw: Speaking plainly from my personal experience, when I got involved with launching the Torch back in 2018 I had only a handful of gay friends in my life and frankly knew most of the players who went on to be Torch players only as a fan-from-afar. As I got to know this team, it became clear pretty quickly that not only were many of the Torch players queer themselves, but that the entire team felt particularly passionate about advancing LBGTQ+ awareness, opportunity and acceptance.
I admit that in the beginning I felt insecure and uncertain about how to act or what to say - I am frequently the only male in some team meetings and activities, and a straight, white, male at that! - but very quickly felt welcome and accepted as part of the group.
As you reflect on what Pride means to the Torch, what comes to mind?
Rachel: Y’all means all.
We feel very fortunate to be in Austin and have so much inclusivity in our city. We love to rep flags and be who we are! And, are excited to continue those efforts in our community in the coming years!
What discussions do you have amongst your leadership team, coaches or players about Pride?
Rachel: I suppose since we have so many queer folks we don’t do too much extra talking about these topics. Having queer presidents, coaches, and captains in the current or past years have always made these topics just exist without having to plan.
Bonesaw: As Yeager says, there wasn't much extra talking about it - the topics around LBGTQ+ inclusivity and pride just existed as part of the team's foundation. It's hard to put into words, but it would have been easy for the team to subtly make me feel like an outsider or somehow not welcome, but something about how this group of people modeled a kind of "reverse acceptance" of me instantly turned off any insecurities or uncertainties I had about relating to this community... permanently.
I believe that the Torch - with VC's guidance and support always on our side - can have that same impact on many others in our larger society. It's genuine pride with a few doses of bad-ass athletics, a culture of mutual support and dash of classic "Come and Take It" Texas swagger!
Have you discussed what you can do as an organization to support the LGBTQ2S+ community, especially in ultimate (like learning/education, sharing, supporting LGBTQ2S+ community members, etc.)?
Rachel: Since Torch was founded in 2018, it’s been important for the team to be a space where our players feel comfortable being completely themselves.
Although the pandemic put some of our community plans on hold, we’ve been able to financially support OutYouth, ATX black pride, and the Transgender Education Network of Texas via fundraisers.
You can join the Torch in celebrating Pride by making a direct donation to the Transgender Education Network of Texas, or purchase a piece of Torch Pride swag and we'll donate 30% of the purchase price on your behalf.