[oasis] [columns]

Andrew Downing

December 1996

You're the Inspiration

It's fairly common knowledge that I am a member of a laser tag league consisting of close to 500 members, but what drives me to continue to be one of the best in the league is not as well known.

When I first came into the league, it was just for recreation; but now, two and a half years and more than 500 league games later, now that I'm a marquee player, now that I've set records and broken them again, I realize that I've done something I never set out to do.

I've become a role model.

I'm committed to good sportsmanship and fair play. I do my best to assist non-league players and players just entering the league. And my level of play is something to which others aspire.

What really excites me though, is that kids still look up to me and admire me, despite the fact that I'm openly gay. What an opportunity! I can combat homophobia and encourage young gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

Because of me, the marshals, enforcers of the rules of the arena, now consider words like "faggot" to be offensive language (and thus banned in the arena under the rules). As such, anyone who uses such language can be ejected from a game.

Also because of my efforts, at least one league member who was extremely homophobic has "wised up" - He's even gone dancing at the gay bar a few times. Of course, he refused to go more than about 5 feet away from my protection, but it was a huge step forward for him in terms of tolerance.

As well, it is my hope to illustrate to the younger players that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are in no way inferior to straight people.

It's the thought of those younger queers that drives me to keep bettering myself. And I thank all of you out there from the bottom of my heart for inspiring me to achieve legend status. Because of you, the one solitary openly gay player in the holds records for most hits on a single player in a single game, most months in first place, most points in a single game, and most consistent accuracy... you get the idea.

So I'll make you all a deal. You guys just be yourselves, and I'll stick up for your right to do so. And if you're ever in the Regina area, drop by Laser Quest Regina. Maybe we can have a game.

Until then, I'll be kicking ass.

Author's Note: Since the time of writing, another openly gay man has joined the league, and I wish him all the best.


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