- Age: 20
- Neighborhood: Flushing
- National Origin / Family from: Mexican-American
“Being a queer athlete was terrifying at first,” says Alexis Hall. She’s been playing soccer since she was a kid but later switched to track & cross country, now running competitively for Queens College. As a sophomore last year she led their Womens Cross Country Team to their best finish since 2018 at the ECC Cross Country Championships.
“Now, I feel so proud to be a queer athlete, and my team supports me. I find my pride inspiring others to be vulnerable and share their journey too.”
However, she reminds us, there’s still a long way to go. “We’re in a progressive city but that doesn’t mean everyone is progressive and accepting,” Hall says. “Acceptance often begins with familiarity, and that’s why representation matters: so the next little boy or girl knows that people like them can arrive to new heights.”
When and why did you move to Queens?
I moved to Queens when I was 18 years old to run Track and Cross Country at Queens College. I fell in love with the multicultural melting pot I see every day living in Queens.
Did you play soccer growing up? What’s your family’s connection to the beautiful game?
Growing up I played soccer my entire life, and just recently got into track. I lived in Brazil til I was 5, so some of my first memories are from Brazil and soccer is everywhere there. My first soccer memory was when I was 7. I remember picking flowers while the rest of my team played. Obviously I have improved my skills and focus since then. Half of my family is from Mexico and I carry that with me day to day. I love watching soccer and will always support the Mexican National Team.
What has your personal experience as a queer athlete been like so far? Tell us some of the challenges and joys.
Being a queer athlete was terrifying at first. In high school, I feared the other girls on my team finding out I was gay. I never had a safe person to tell.
Now, I feel so proud to be a queer athlete. I outwardly express how proud I am to be in the LGBTQ community, and my team supports me. I find my pride inspiring others to be vulnerable and share their journey too. I also talk about my girlfriend 24/7 and have no shame in doing so.
Do you see the culture of sports and queer athletes changing?
I feel there used to be a stronger division between sports and queerness. Sports often used to be associated with masculinity, the toxic kind, and an ounce of gayness within an athlete would result in ostracization.
[In June last year] Carl Nassib became the first NFL player to come out. He lost many fans for his decision to reveal his identity. But with this decision, he formed a community of professional players ready to come out. It was brave what he did, and he took a huge leap toward the direction of inclusivity in sports. Then there are athletes like me nowhere near professional level who outwardly choose to wear their queerness with pride.
Carl Nassib impacted millions of people. I’ve impacted maybe six or seven people. But the fact that I have had teammates feel vulnerable enough to come out to me makes me feel warm knowing I am a safe person to talk to.
You’ve had the opportunity to support fellow athletes as they came out, what did that teach you?
One of my best friends on my team came out to me two years ago. They are from another country, where being gay will get you killed. My friend was terrified to tell me, I remember holding their hand while it was shaking. Two years later, they have a loving partner and are slowly coming out to more and more people on our team.
Support and safety create a bridge to acceptance. Supporting my friend taught me that I wanted to be the teammate I never had in high school. I wanted to be the shoulder to lean on.
Can you talk about the importance of repping the Queer community outside of just pride month?
To be truly be inclusive, companies, teams and corporations have to support marginalized communities for longer than a single month. 30 days is not enough to truly lift a community, no, but it is a great time to profit off of queer people and allies by throwing rainbows everywhere. Treating queer advocacy like a sticker you’re gonna peel and take off does nothing but stomp on the work black, trans and queer activists have created for the LGBTQIA+ community.
It is important to represent the Queer community 365 days of the year because we exist longer than 30 days. Every day is a new battle, every day is a new reason to advocate for our rights.
What would you say to a 12-year-old You, or to a young person figuring out who they are in this moment?
Nothing is wrong with you. You aren’t a sin. Change is scary, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to not know. Everything will be okay, even if your existence feels like it’s on a downfall. Be gentle and kind to yourself, you are worthy of every form of love that exists. You’re gonna be okay kiddo.
What makes you most excited about Queensboro FC?
It’s exciting to have a soccer team in my borough to root for. I feel represented. I see so many athletes who look like me, and so many who don’t. There is deep beauty in the community and diversity a Queens team is bound to have. I see nothing but growth for QBFC.
Last Question: In a few words, what defines Queens for you?
Diversity. Community. And of course, soccer.