Walk around Columbus in the fall and you'll hear a frequent call and response: "O-H!" followed by "I-O!" Our fine city is a hardcore football town, but there are plenty of other sports - with LGBTQIA+ teams - for both fans and curious spectators looking for an outing to enjoy. On top of that, Columbus also has queer-owned and affirming workout spaces for you to drop in.
Here are some of the best LGBTQIA+ sports to enjoy in Columbus.
There's nothing quite like the satisfying "DING" of a metal bat whacking a ball. When you attend the Columbus Lesbian and Gay Softball Association games, you'll get that and the joy of yelling "swing, batter batter, swing!" too. With games from late April to mid-August, you'll have plenty of opportunity to root, root, root for the home team.
Throw some snacks in a bag or pick up a to-go meal on the way to Busch Sports Park to enjoy the game. Save room for lunch afterward - the Asian cuisine nearby is unmatched. Try Buckeye Pho, Min-Ga Korean, Bamboo Thai Kitchen, Gogi Korean BBQ or Meshikou Ramen.
Columbus Pride, credit Kevin Wayner Ultiphotos sourced from Facebook.
Ultimate Frisbee is the name of the game, but you can just call it ultimate. Columbus Pride started as an all-women's league and this inclusive group is Ohio's only pro ultimate team. Their home games are played at Fortress Obetz, which, with its matte black castle-like exterior is sure to intimidate the competition.
With stadium seats and concessions available, there's plenty to snack on in the stands, though you're welcome to bring your own snacks as well. The games last about two hours.
If you're looking for a more substantial meal, don't leave the area hungry - there's an abundance of excellent pizza options nearby. From Possum Holler Pizza to Stoney's Market & Pizza to Cardo's Pizza, you can't go wrong. If pub fare is more your style, try Lovell's Tavern. Guess what? You can get pizza there, too.
This popular summer lawn game was created in Italy with its origins dating back all the way to the Roman Empire. It's a low-key sport that nearly anyone can play and everyone can enjoy. Be sure to check out the matches between teams like Total Beocces, Josie and the Bocce-cats and others.
Organized by Stonewall Columbus, you can watch games every summer - typically mid-July to mid-August - at Scioto Audubon Metro Park. After the game, take a walk or bike ride along the Scioto River, check out the nature center, try your luck on the obstacle course, scale the climbing wall, or enjoy a picnic in the park.
If you've ever watched bowling on TV, you know it's more exciting than you may expect. While the so-named Columbus League, Not Ready for Prime Time may not grace your screen, it's nonetheless fun to watch.
Part of the International Gay Bowling Organization, Not Ready for Prime Time is the city's queer bowling group. Drop in for a game or watch the pins fly while enjoying bowling alley concessions. Check their Facebook page for more information on game dates and times.
Haven't played dodgeball since middle school gym class? Don't worry - the adrenaline rush of leaping out of the line of fire never goes away and it's still just as fun slamming a ball into someone now as it was then. And the same parts of the game that make it lively for players also make it entertaining for spectators. The league is organized by Stonewall Columbus and runs every winter from mid-January to mid-March. Catch the games at the Willis Athletic Complex.
Pro tip: Some of the best international east and soul food in the city are nearby. Have dinner before a game at Ena's Caribbean Kitchen, from Jamaica to You, Yin Yue Chinese, Peppers Chicken & Fish, or Sharks Check, Fish & Shrimp. If you love unpretentious hole-in-the-wall eateries (because, c'mon they're so good) then you'll love the dining options in this area of Columbus.
Prefer kicking balls over dodging them? There's something for you, too! In fact, Stonewall Columbus' kickball league is so popular there's a spring and fall season. Games are like a mini community festival with spectators cheering multiple teams and enjoying food truck fare. While the fall 2023 season hasn't yet been announced, the spring season runs from mid-April to mid-June.
Games are played at Sammons Park on the south side of town, which just so happens to be pretty close to the city's famous burger joint, The Thurman Cafe. The restaurant's most famous menu item, The Thurmanaotr, was featured on "Man vs. Food" and - spoiler alert - food won. Whether you're looking to test the limits of your stomach or just want a juicy burger, loaded hand-cut fries and other delightfully greasy fare, stop by The Thurman Cafe and dine like a local.
The Columbus Coyotes, Ohio's first International Gay Rugby Club. Credit Columbus Coyotes Facebook page.
Love the thrill of a good contact sport? It doesn't get more hardcore than rugby! The Columbus Coyotes were Ohio's first International Gay Rugby Club. They play locally, regionally, and internationally, so mark your calendar to catch a home game from April through June at Scioto Audubon Metro Park. That's the same location where the Boccee games are played and it's an all-around excellent park for experiencing urban nature.
The Columbus Kodiaks play locally and regionally and you can attend their home games at Stockbridge Park, south of downtown Columbus. The team as well as their opponent are known to hit up Cavan, Ohio's only gay Irish pub, after games, to keep the good times rolling. If you're hungry before the match, stop by Machete Taqueria food truck for a quick bite of taco goodness. Keep up with the latest via their Facebook page.
The Columbus Kodiaks play locally and regionally and you can attend their home games at Stockbridge Park, south of downtown. The team as well as their opponent are known to hit up Cavan, Ohio’s only gay Irish pub, after games, so you can keep the good times rolling. If you’re hungry before the match, stop by the Machete Taqueria food truck for a quick bite of taco goodness. Keep up with the latest via their Facebook page.
Enjoy volleyball—no beach necessary—with Capital City Volleyball! It’s Ohio’s oldest gay volleyball organization and is so popular there are two seasons: fall and winter. Find friendly and competitive matches being played from the end of August to mid-November and January through mid-April. Games are played at a variety of courts across the city, so be sure to check the Facebook page for the most up-to-date info.
Not into team sports? No problem.
If pounding the pavement is more your jam, join OutRunners Columbus! Whether you prefer morning or evening runs, they have a handful each week and all paces are welcome. Just show up at the appointed time and place and get in on the fRUN.
Some activities are just better with a group. If that’s your philosophy when it comes to climbing, then Queer Climbing Columbus is the crew for you! Between meetups at 5.life gyms/Vertical Adventures and outdoor climbing events, there’s something for climbers of all skill levels and environmental preferences. Events are posted on their Google calendar and Facebook page—just be sure to sign the waiver on the Queer Climbing Columbus website before you head out to scale any cliffs or walls.
Pole, Yoga & Cycle
Movement is meant to be joyful and everyBODY should be celebrated. That’s Heartfelt Studios’ motto and why this queer-owned yoga studio shortly thereafter expanded to pole and cycle classes. At three locations across the city, you can drop-in to a class that’ll encourage you to thank your body for what it can do, regardless of what the scale or conventional beauty stands might say, and still leave you sweating.
Whether you’re in town for a night, a longer stay, or you’re looking to call Columbus home, there’s a piece of the athletic pie here for you.