Tell me about your event?
We are having our 10th anniversary for the New York bar. It’s March 27. It’s going to go from 6 p.m. to whenever on the main floor. The main floor is just a larger floor. It’s gonna be for 482621_10151701138118109_1922013122_nregulars or for anyone who wants to experience it. We’re going to have giveaways, surprises and a raffle and what not. We are also doing like a tie-in or VIP reception in our lower level. We can make it like a private bar in coordination with Athlete Ally. Athlete Ally is a nonprofit that works to combat homophobia in sports, from high school to college to professional sports. They have a great roster of gay athletes like Martina Navratilova. Then they have a roster of well-known straight athletes who partner with the gay athletes, who sort of work together.  So they are going to be our partner in the charity for the night. We’re doing a VIP mat in the locker room. It’s going to be $100 a ticket for open bar, appetizers. We’ve already had a couple of celebrities who are working on getting a few of the cast members from “Orange Is the New Black.”

How nice.
Yeah, it’s cool, right? I don’t know which ones we get.  We’re also going to have a silent auction. It’s for anybody that wants to come in and celebrate. Then we’re doing the VIP to put more attention on Athlete Ally. We’re also trying to get more people like you to cover the event and get the word out that we’ve been around for 10 years and just signed a new lease for another 10.

Rick where is “The Gym” located
We’re on 8th Ave in Chelsea. It’s 1678 Ave and it’s in between 8th and 9th Street

When is The Gym open?

We have a website, It has our hours and our daily specials. It will give you all the information on LA or NY.

You have The Gym in LA as well?
We opened in 2005 in New York, and we opened in 2009 in LA, and I’ll give you a little scoop: We are working on opening a third location.

So how are you affiliated with The Gym?
I am basically the guy who founded it. I am an owner. I had the idea, going back years, but in 2004 I started to actively work on it.

Are you gay?
Oh, hell yeah. I’m gay and have been openly gay for 30 years, and I’ve been an athlete my whole life.

What sport
I played football in college. I always knew I was gay, and I came out after my sophomore year in college to my family and friends. I became involved very early with gay sports leagues, since 1985. For me a gay sports bar was a great idea.  There’s been a huge boom in gay sports leagues. They’ve probably doubled since 1985-86.

There are a lot of straight athletes around that are very big gay sports allies, like Ben Cohen and Stuart Reardon.
Yeah, there are all these great people on the straight side. I love that you’re familiar with this, because sometimes people have no clue what I’m talking about.

One last question. Before you came out, did your teammates know that you were gay?
It’s funny because I’m just sort of like a guy.  I don’t think I’m super masculine or super feminine – I’m whatever. I was a good athlete, but somehow in Minnesota, like a farm town.  Someone came over to me and said, “Do you know some of the guys make jokes about you?” I said, “No, I didn’t.” But they said, “No one is going to confront you, because they are afraid you’re gonna beat them up!”

That is so funny.
In college, by the time I was a senior, it was pretty known. They were talking about it. I never felt scared or threatened, and by the time I was a senior it was not discussed, but a lot of people knew – even some of my coaches. A handful of my teammates knew, they just didn’t know what to do with it. They were like, “As long as he could throw a football…”

167 8th Ave.
(Between 18/19 Street)
New York, New York
(212) 337-2439

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Eileen Shapiro
Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....