One a recent Tuesday evening at Los Angeles's Poinsettia Park near West Hollywood, about a dozen men a grass field were running head on into a practice tackle, grunting loudly as they shoved the hapless dummy around.
It was all just part of the weekly chill of the area's straight-inclusive gay rugby club, the L.A. Rebellion. "That was good--if you were wearing a skirt," joked coach Gary Patterson, after one lightning-fast player smashed into the dummy. That kind of smack talk is common on rugby pitches around the world, but the Rebellion's trash talk is a bit unusual.
"And high heels," one player added.
"Only on weekends," another chimed in. Although the number of participants is tiny in comparison to that of other league sports (the gay men's softball league boasts 30 teams and 450 players in Los Angeles alone), rough-and-tumble rugby is becoming a passion for a growing number of gay men, plus more than a few straight men who have no problem playing on teams that celebrate sexual diversity.
While there may be a few campy comments, there is no such thing as touch rugby. Since ruggers don't wear protective equipment or helmets, the hits are real. Most Rebellion team members can list …