The Prime Timers Gay Men’s Bowling League is going through some major changes for the upcoming season—the league changed its name and is now including women. Its new name, Out There Bowling (OTB), was changed to be consistent with the brand of Out There Sports & Recreation, which is the sports organization for the queer community that the league is a part of. The name also came about because the league will no longer be exclusive to male participants, as it had been since its beginning.
Alan Moore, OTB co-ordinator and participant, said the league was founded more than 10 years ago by a guy who only wanted males to participate. “There was one time, two or three years ago, where they co-ordinated something where they got more people involved,” he said. “They invited people from the Rainbow Resource Centre, but hadn’t said anything about it being guys only. Some people had an issue with that.” After that, women were occasionally included in special events, but there was always an issue with making everyone feel included.
Moore hopes including women will raise the attendance at each bowling night. “It’s just a matter of making sure everyone is comfortable and feels that it’s a great place to be,” he said. “There were four or five weeks where four or five people showed up. There’s no point in saying ‘guys only,’ if you’re only getting five guys. It’s not as fun.”
Moore’s teammate, Trevor Thobaben, has been participating on and off for 10 years. “This is the third consecutive year I have been involved,” he said. “I did it back in 2002, when we had more lanes and more people, but used to do it every second Thursday. There was a good turnout and then it sort of died off.”
It’s great for anyone who’s just coming out.
This fivepin bowling league meets at Academy Bowling Lanes every Thursday from October to May. “In the early ‘90s, they had tenpin bowling, which was at the lanes by Polo Park,” said Thobaben. “That was where the Prime Timers started out. By the early 2000s, it had moved to Academy Bowling Lanes.”
Moore said there’s no commitment or registrations required, but he recommends newcomers contact him beforehand for directions. “When I first came last fall, I walked past everyone that was there because I had no idea who I was looking for,” he said. “We’ve had a few people say they didn’t see us there. So we try to catch people when they come in.”
The league costs approximately $170 per participant, per year and on average, has 10 to 12 participants per evening. “We’re trying to get more people involved because it’s not that expensive and I figure most people have gone bowling at some point—whatever it was for, most people enjoy it. Not everyone thinks about going and doing it on a weekly basis, so we’re just trying to give people a reason to show up even just once and meet everyone.”
No skill or previous bowling experience is required for participation. “Whether you’re bowling 60 or bowling 300, it doesn’t matter,” said Moore.
OTB is a great way to meet new people in a different environment. “It’s great for anyone who’s just coming out,” said Moore. “If you want something smaller and in a more controlled environment, where it’s not a bar that you’re trying to meet people at, bowling is an easy way to do that. [The league] is just a social activity organized around bowling, because most of the time we’re just sitting and talking anyway.”
To join Out There Bowling, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Adriana Mingo is a Creative Communications student at Red River College with a passion for all things art and pop culture. You can follow her on Twitter at @akamingo27.