ational Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL)

The New England Patriots Donated $25,000 To A Gay Football Tournament

The Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox also contributed to this year's Gay Bowl.

Every Columbus Day weekend, the top two teams in the National Gay Flag Football League face off in the Gay Bowl. This year’s championship was held in Boston and, for the first time, was sponsored by several NFL, NBA and MLB teams.

The New England Patriots, the Red Sox, the Celtics and the Bruins all donated to Gay Bowl XVII, which brought more than 41 teams from 21 cities to Beantown.

“It is a major change,” Danny Tyrrell, co-chair of the Gay Bowl and commissioner of the Boston FLAG Flag Football League, told the Boston Herald. “When we started this 17 years ago, there was not a place for people to be gay and athletes. It’s kind of evolved.”

Tyrrell says the Patriots’ $25,000 donation greased the wheels for the other three franchises to come on board.

In April he met Patriots charity president Josh Kraft at an event and the two discussed LGBT inclusion in sports. Two days later Kraft called him and said, “I talked to my dad [owner Robert Kraft] and we’d be more than happy to be a presenting sponsor.”

After that, the Sox, Bruins and Celtics quickly signed up to become $2,500 bronze sponsors. “The Patriots put us on the map,” says Tyrrell.

OutSports reports both Robert and Josh Kraft made a surprise guest appearance at Sunday night’s game, where the New York Warriors snagged a 25-18 victory in the A-Division final over the San Diego Bolts.

“Josh and I have been looking forward to coming here tonight because of all of you,” Kraft said. “We feel we need more of this in the world… We’re going to do a lot to build bridges in America through sports.” Kraft said.

Next year’s Gay Bowl is in Denver—Tyrell says he hopes the Broncos “answer the challenge the New England Patriots put out.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.