Gay Polo: The Best Party In Town: Annual International GPL Tournament Returns This Month

Gay Polo: The Best Party In Town:

Annual International GPL
Tournament Returns This Month

When the Gay Polo League first arrived in Wellington in 2010, it brought a new dimension to the polo match and tailgate concept. Traditional tailgating at polo entails a bunch of polo players and fans clad in jeans and T-shirts sitting in the back of a flatbed truck, polo team logos adding the only touch of glamour to their attire.

GPL tournament tailgates involve months of planning, inventive and colorful décor and costumes, and a spirited passion for enjoying polo while cheering at the GPL polo matches that draw gay and straight polo players and fans alike for a rousing day of fun in the Florida sun. In 2017, the GPL is stepping up its game once again by adding a philanthropic aspect to the best party in Wellington.

According to Chip McKenney, GPL’s founder and president, there are now GPL members in nine countries, making the polo club truly international. This year’s event will take place April 7-9 and features the traditional GPL Polotini Party at the Wanderers Club on Friday, April 7. Saturday, April 8 will be the highlight day of polo matches and tailgating revelry on the exclusive Isla Carroll field at the International Polo Club of Palm Beach.

Participants who are still standing after the full day of tailgating and polo will wind up the weekend with IPC’s luxurious Sunday brunch at the Mallet Grill with front-row seats at the U.S. Open matches at IPC.

The GPL recently added raising money for charity to its organizational mission. The league has obtained 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, and all proceeds from this year’s tournament after costs will be donated to selected charities that advance the cause of aiding at-risk LGBTQ youth and support the inclusive acceptance of all people regardless of sexual identity — a key component of the GPL’s mission statement.

“The first seven years we worked to build a great event within the LGBTQ community,” McKenney explained. “Now that the tournament is established, thanks to phenomenal support from our corporate and private partners, the next step is to make a difference in the lives of our community, especially LGBTQ youth.”

GPL members are big fans of the unique tournament. “I love the crowds, the tailgates, and I love the energy of the people on the field,” three-time participant Tiffany Busch said.

A professional player and one of the highest-rated women playing polo, Busch won the 2016 Women Championship Tournament last April, and recently was on top of the podium at the Tabebuia Cup at the Port Mayaca Polo Club in February.

“It makes me feel part of something big to play in the GPL. On a personal note, what Chip McKenney and Mason Phelps have put together here is amazing because is allows people like me to take a stand and be who we are, whether that is gay, straight or transgendered,” Busch said.

Busch is excited that the GPL tournament will be contributing funds to charity this year. “Charity-related events are one of the best ways to showcase polo and give back,” Busch said.

Now that the GPL has obtained its nonprofit status, the league will have another tool to spread the message of acceptance and empowerment, McKenney said. He explained that the league’s charitable efforts will have a dual focus on alleviating homelessness among LGBTQ youth and providing scholarships for higher education.

Meanwhile, GPL members will be leveraging the international aspect of the league into additional opportunities to raise awareness and pride for people of LBGTQ identity to a worldwide audience.

For example, the GPL hosted its first-ever tournament outside the United States in December, in Argentina. The teams of Phelps Media, Cedar Crest and RSM journeyed to El Remanso Polo Club and Bautista Heguy’s Chapa Uno Polo Club, where they had the experience of playing with four-time Argentine Open champion Eduardo Heguy and several other professional polo players.

When they were not playing polo, the GPL members went into Buenos Aires to watch the Argentine Open matches live at the “cathedral” in Palermo.

Mark Bennett, a Realtor from Palm Beach, loved the trip to Argentina. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experience,” he said. “For someone like me, who is not a billionaire, to get to play with players from one of the top polo families in the world is incredible. Being part of the GPL opens up amazing opportunities.”

Bennett also complimented his Argentine hosts.

“Eduardo Heguy, his wife and his family were extremely welcoming, warm and friendly,” he said, relating how Heguy invited the GPL members to visit the private team tents at the Argentine Open in Palermo, and then took the time, despite the stresses of competing, to make sure that the GPL players were having a good experience at Palermo.

“Eduardo went out of his way to introduce us to people at the Argentine Open,” Bennett said. “For my first trip to Argentina, I could not have done it in a better way.”

After experiencing the success of the GPL’s trip to Argentina, McKenney is open to creating other GPL events around the world and is evaluating the next opportunity for an overseas event.

Tickets for the 2017 International Gay Polo Tournament events are available at the league’s official web site. The GPL’s new nonprofit status means that donations to the GPL are tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law.

Information on joining the GPL or getting tickets to this month’s tournament can be found at