Annual Memorial Day weekend tournament celebrates gay tennis

We all know that Golden Gate Park is a festive place, a favorite location to throw a kid’s birthday party, attend a concert or festival, or just hang out with friends. Those of us who play tennis are lucky enough to regularly be surrounded by the sights and sounds that make the park such a special place.

On Memorial Day Weekend, the celebration is all about tennis. Gay tennis, that is.

That’s when the GGPTC plays host to a very special, and historic, tournament -- the US Gay Open (USGO). Organized by the Bay Area’s Gay & Lesbian Tennis Federation (GLTF), the USGO has welcomed LGBTQ men and women from around the US and the world for 36 years.

The GLTF is one of the founding clubs in the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA), which now includes more than 40 LGBT tennis organizations worldwide. With more than 500 members, the GLTF fields USTA League teams year round, with home courts at SF State University and in Oakland (mainly Mills College and Davie Tennis Stadium).

Watch the 2016 USGO promo video

One of the oldest, largest and most prestigious LGBTQ tournaments, the USGO features men’s and women’s draw at all levels, a fun World Team Tennis event, a welcome party, courtside banquet and more. Players from as far away as Canada and France have already registered for the tournament, which in the past has attracted participants from Australia, Great Britain, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei and South America.

And although it’s billed as a “gay” event, the GLTF welcomes all people to participate. In fact, the GLTF’s tag line is “Queer tennis is inclusive tennis”.

Says GLTF (and Tennis Coalition) board member Peg Stevenson: “Basically there are two ways to meet people to play tennis – one is that you have to be a member of an expensive private club and the other is to join a community tennis organization. In SF there really are only two -- GLTF and Golden Gate Park Tennis Club. Inclusivity is just being part of a community organization with a community mindset with events open to all.”

This year the USGO will take place May 28-30. Proceeds from the tournament always go to charity and this year’s recipient will be The Center, an LGBT non-profit in San Francisco. Since its founding in 1981 the tournament has taken place not only at Golden Gate Park, but also at various Bay Area locations, including for many years at the Taube Tennis Center at Stanford University.

Want to know more? Check out these resources:

USGO promo video


Bay Times article

SF Examiner article