SAN ANTONIO – The Diablos Outsports Association has grown from humble but brave beginnings.
The San Antonio sports league continues to grow to help the LGBTQ community strengthen bonds.
"We want to give them that vehicle to make connections, and make friendships and develop a long-term sense of their own identity," said Diablos Commissioner Jeremiah Birmingham.
Birmingham remembers the idea was first brought up in 2009. Members of the military were still under the discriminatory policy of "don't ask, don't tell," which allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they kept their sexual orientation a secret.
"Several men that were in the military that were involved in "don't ask, don't tell" wanted to find a way to socialize using sports to kind of connect the LGBT military community together," Birmingham said.
The group decided to start a flag football team, and Birmingham was one of the first members to join the sports team. David Alfaro soon followed while he was in college.
"We were just a group of five to 10 guys hanging out. We were just our own little clique," Alfaro said.
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy is no longer in place, and the organization continues to thrive with more members joining the league over the years.
The Diablos Outsports Association became a 501c3 in 2014.
The sports team focused on flag football before gradually adding kickball in 2015, and volleyball in 2016 and in 2018, a social running group called the Front Runners was introduced.
Over the years, Alfaro took on more responsibility, from playing to coaching. He's now player director for the Diablos.
"Yeah, I've seen our community grow as a whole," he said.
The Diablos spans across different genders and backgrounds. The teams can also compete on a national level.
"When I'm playing with the Diablos, I can completely be me. My partner and I are playing. We're with our friends. We can relate to one another. We're just comfortable being ourselves," Alfaro said.
The Diablos helps other nonprofit organizations by donating unused league fees to organizations like Fiesta Youth, Thrive and the LGBTQ division of Big Brothers, Big Sisters.