Roller Girls: Gays love their sassy subculture

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(From left) In blue, Jersey Jackhammer Comanche Red, Sir Macs-a-Lot and Violet Contusion battle for position against Demolition City Dynamite Dolls.

Photos by Brian Murphree

Rambo Sambo (center) served as bench coach and offered a motivational talk to the players.

Well into their third season of skull crushing, trash-talking action, the Nashville Rollergirls are still spinning steadily along. 

On their home turf, they have drawn upwards of a thousand fans to a single match – and a good portion of their fan base is gay.

With toned thighs, fishnet stockings, and girl-on-girl action, it’s no wonder the Nashville Rollergirls have many lesbian fans. But, what brings the boys to their matches?

Eric Durchholz, the Rollergirl’s only openly-gay male cheerleader, said the sport offers a brand of sass and brass that many gay men love.

“I would say that it’s a sport that gay men can feel comfortable viewing and cheering,” Durchholz said. “There’s not the whole testosterone, macho posturing and jock-grabbing homophobia associated with it."

Beyond it’s surface, he said the derby shares similar cultural aspects as the GLBT community.

"It also has elements of drag involved with each player choosing their own clever name," Durchholz said. "Roller Derby is about being your own creation and gay men have a lot of experience in having to do that.”

The Rollergirl’s roster lists nearly 30 skaters on three home teams – the Assault Rivals, the Damsels of Distress and the X Pistols – which compete against each other during the summer.

Hildabeast, one of the derby’s most enthusiastic players, said she believes fans are drawn to the derby’s open-arms policy.

“I think a prominent reason that there is such a strong homosexual presence in derby, both in fans and skaters, is that we’re a tolerant, open-minded organization,” Hildabeast said. “We allow skaters from every race, creed, and body type and that’s always stood out to me as one of the reasons that our grass-roots style sport has grown so strong.

"The way I see it is the more you allow for people to be themselves without being judged, the happier everyone is.”

The Rollergirls compete during two official seasons each year. During Home Season, league members battle it out with each other for the right to be called the best in the city. During their current Travel Season, the team’s All Stars and Brawl Stars compete against teams from other leagues and other cities.  
 

Smith N. Wesson racks up points as she skates circles around the opposition.

Long-time fan Clinton Lyle was drawn to the sport’s non-conformist fun and has spent years cheering-on players with names such as Britches ‘N Hose, Sexy Slaydie and Maulin’ Monroe.

“Roller Derby is the only organized sport that caters to the counter-culture of America," Lyle said. "It is the only sports venue where outsiders are insiders.”

For more info on the Rollergirl’s including their upcoming schedule, visit nashvillerollergirls.com.