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  WINDY CITY TIMES

THE SPORTING LIFE Kenny Johnson
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2018-12-19

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Kenny Johnson has played almost every gay sport over the past four years, after moving to Chicago five years ago from Elkhart, Indiana.

Johnson has scored many basketball memories.

"My most memorable gay sports highlight was when my parents attended their first gay sports event—my basketball championship game [for the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association, CMSA] and they drove three hours to support me," said Johnson, 32, who lives in Chicago's Rogers Park and works as a product service associate for Lowes home improvement.

In his first year playing gay sports in Chicago, Johnson was on a basketball championship team, then, during the post-season awards ceremony, he was named the Rookie of the Year award-winner, as voted by fellow league players. "I [felt] accepted and celebrated by my [then-] new family," Johnson said. [That first year playing gay sports], I thought it was fun and a great way to get a sense of community. I instantly met a lot of new people and it helped me create a social life in my new city.

"[Over the past four years, gay sports have] become more inclusive to different groups of people around the city as it has grown in popularity. I've seen people of all ages, various races, and more straight allies participating."

Johnson has played basketball, football, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, kickball, and dodgeball. He now still plays basketball, beach and indoor volleyball, and kickball.

"I like the sense of community [in gay sports], the physicality of it, and the fact that it provides frequent social activities outside of work," said Johnson, who tagged basketball as his best, flag football as his worst sport.

"Gay sports have allowed me to be more accepting of my own sexuality. Gay sports have allowed me to come out of my shell and meet new people," Johnson said. "I would like to try [playing] badminton. I was introduced to it in high school and would love to play it competitively."

Johnson added: "I truly have a love for gay sports. It provides a safe space for individuals who may not have safe spaces to call their own. It provides a loving environment and family atmosphere. I have made many lifelong friends [through] gay sports."

Extra innings with … Kenny Johnson

—Favorite pro sports team: 2002 Sacramento Kings

—Favorite pro athlete: Michael Jordan

—Favorite pro sports stadium: United Center

—One pro athlete who you'd like to meet: Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder

—If you could attend any pro sports event/game, what would it be?: "U.S. Open Championship Game, [but] only if Serena Williams or Novak Djokovic are playing."


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