Our Story

How Out! Bowling Became Out! Bowling

It started with an idea by Nate in Summer of 2014. After moving to the Chicagoland area with his partner Casey in 2013, he realized that there just wasn’t much to do in the Chicago suburbs for LGBTQ+ folks without traveling to the city to go to a club or a bar. And for transplants like them, it was hard to connect with new friends.

He was working at Brunswick Zone in Naperville at the time, so – he decided to start a bowling league for LGBTQ+ and allies in the area. Nate got to work advertising; Casey got to work putting together a logo and a flier. And when it came to a name – one stood out above the rest – we were going “out” bowling – it was as simple as that. And so, Out! Bowling was born with 53 league members that inaugural season.

With seven years and over a dozen seasons, we’ve got so much to celebrate as an Out! Bowling Family. Below are just some of the highlights from past seasons. Thank you for being part of our family as we continue to grow. Our mantra is as good today as it was on day #1 – all, welcome.

Note – this page is best viewed on a PC or in “wide mode” on a mobile device.

Fall 2014 – Summer 2015 – Brunswick Lanes, Naperville

Our original logo – simple, to the point, and told the world exactly what we were!
Out first night was a preview night with 39 bowlers! See Omar there!? He’s one of our original founding members and has been with us for 7 years.

Karaoke quickly became part of our traditions at Out! Bowling. Many league members hung out afterwards, had a drink and sang karaoke. Here’s a picture of League President, Casey, and former founding league member Amy listening to some jams.
In the center there is Nate – he’s the reason for Out! Bowling. It was his brainchild and from his idea, we have spawned into this amazing family.
Theme nights quickly became part of our seasons. The first – our Halloween Theme party which has become an annual tradition.
Very quickly our family grew from 53 bowlers the first season to over 83 in the spring season! New faces and returning faces found our home at Brunswick Zone in Naperville a safe place!
John Gammon, in the center, became the “social secretary” of the league – where he has continued welcoming new faces every season!
Our first tees came in 2015 with RED for founding members and BLUE for all members.
Food quickly became a huge part of our league. While the alley doesn’t let us bring in “meals,” they made exceptions for desserts. And wow…do we know how to bake.
We weren’t sure how summer season was going to go, but we ended up with 67 bowlers, more than our first season!

Fall 2015 – Spring 2016: We Move to Lisle Lanes…

Our time at Brunswick at Naperville came to a close and we had to seek out a new home in Lisle. Lisle Lanes to be specific.
Our logo got a tune-up too and became much more colorful!
Our goal was to make $1500…and…
We blew it out of the water with $3578 made towards the Open Door Clinic!
In Spring 2016, our got a little bit of a spruce-up…and so did our tees!
Even in moments of national tragedy, we come together.
And we soldier on…
After several seasons of managing the league, it was time to step back and find someone else for Spring 2017…
Our third annual charity fundraiser with a goal of $2500.
After 6 seasons, we took a minute to honor the founding members of the league who were still bowling!
And somewhere in this craziness, we got a new logo too!
And new tees too! The Wechter Years were a huge succeess!
Another successful charity fundraiser for Fall 2018…this time to Youth Outlook!

And then, in Spring 2019, Wheaton Bowl closes and we have to find a new home…

And that new home is…Stardust Bowl in Addison Starting in Fall 2019!

In Fall 0f 2019, we celebrated our 5 year anniversary!
Oh yeah – we got a new logo too!
The staff at the various lanes we have been on have been just as much a part of our family as the bowlers. That’s Noelle, original league bartender!
The very first season we established the tradition of giving back to an LGBTQ+ charity with our charity fundraiser! That first year we took donations from multiple bowlers and assembled baskets to be raffled off. That tradition has continued through to today.
It became tradition that even non-bowlers came to visit and became part of our Out! Bowling Extended family.
As we get to know our league members, they become like family. And unfortunately we lost a member of or family in 2015. The league donated $100 to his memorial fund. His family told us that the league brought him so much joy his final year in life on the earth.
Our second annual charity fundraiser raised even more money and this time for the Aids Foundation of Chicago through the Open Door Clinic in Aurora – where long-time league member, Sally Bice, worked.
Presenting the $3578 to the Open Door Clinic of Aurora!
New faces…new friends!

And then we made the move to Wheaton Bowl…our home for the next several years!

Spring 2017 found Morgan and Dave Wechter taking over the league and we officially entered the “Wechter Years.”
Passing the Torch…

Fall 2017 – The Community Shines!

And another successful charity fundraiser…this time benefiting P-Flag!

Spring of 2020 was looking up! Season kicked off in February…but it was only a matter of weeks before COVID-19 cancelled our Spring, Summer, Fall, and Spring 2021 Seasons…but for the weeks we did have, we had some fun!

And so…like any great story, our adventure continues. ..

Like any great story, ours is one of fun, family, friends, love, empathy, and community. Like any family we care for each, we look out for each out, we are there for each other, and we have a sense of belonging.

Please consider joining us as our adventure continues!