Staying connected with CMSA while living in Nashville, @BBKyle heads to his computer

Mon. April 1, 2024 7:26 AM by Ross Forman


photo credit // provided

Former multi-sport CMSA competitor now connects – and battles – through eSports

BBKyle is a content creator who live-streams with a passion for creating comedic queer gaming content, meshed with his sarcastic, irreverent and bold sense of humor. @BBKyle has a presence on YouTube, TikTok and Twitch.

A suburban Chicago native who lived in the city for about 10 years, BBKyle (as he asked to be called) now lives in Nashville, working for a restaurant technology startup, though he still has strong ties to the Windy City through the eSports gaming world offered by the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA).

“Since moving to Tennessee, I’m no longer involved in any of CMSA’s in-person sports, though I still force my old volleyball teammates to keep in touch with me by refusing to leave their group chat,” he said, laughing.

BBKyle plays in CMSA eSports’ Dead By Daylight League, Fortnite, Overwatch and any one-off events, such as Goose Goose Duck.

He formerly played such CMSA sports as dodgeball, beach volleyball, indoor volleyball and softball. CMSA’s eSports leagues allow him to stay connected with Chicago’s LGBT community while living a 7-hour drive away.

“My best and favorite (CMSA) sport (was) dodgeball. It is the most fast-paced, aggressive and intense of all the sports that CMSA has. Every muscle of your body gets worked out and a 15-minute game will leave you exhausted.

“I’m a 5-foot-4, 125-pound petite little princess, a lady of leisure, but hand me a dodgeball and people don’t even ask anymore, my pronoun is capital HIM. The gym bros with their glory muscles can stick to Instagram because they do not stand a chance if they see me on the court.”

BBKyle is a founding member of CMSA’s eSports, which twice has been nominated for the internationally recognized Gayming Awards for best LGBTQ Contribution To eSports. BBKyle has been invited alongside RegrettablyJake and Ladimir Geake to host a panel at the Gayming LIVE Convention about growing an inclusive eSports community.

“I don’t want to sound too sentimental, but CMSA runs through my blood and has shaped who I am as a person,” BBKyle said. “Queer people don’t have it as easy as straight people who are meeting each other daily. It can often feel like the only place to connect with another queer person is at a bar or (on) some hookup app. As an adult, it’s more challenging to make new friends and even harder to find like-minded queer people to become friends with.

“CMSA has provided me so many opportunities to meet new people and in a setting that doesn’t involve drugs/alcohol or being hyper-sexualized. If you’ve ever played sports before, you know that feeling of how your teammates quickly become like a family. You become bonded over a mutual goal of competition and you’re rooting for each other to do your best.”

BBKyle worked for years in Boystown, which expanded his social circle, but joining CMSA and playing sports “diversified the types of queer people and personalities I’ve spent time with.”

BBKyle joined CMSA at age 22, when he was new to the city and working at the now-closed Spin Nightclub. “I was talking to this bartender named Scott and he was the one who introduced me and invited me onto his CMSA dodgeball team, which was my first taste of competitive dodgeball … I was immediately hooked. Immediately after the dodgeball season ended, I signed up for beach volleyball.

“I was placed on a team (filled with) guys who were quite a bit (older). I couldn’t have been more different than these guys. These men: Jim, Ollie, Willis and Mario were so kind and welcoming, despite our differences in age and stage in life. They treated me like an equal, like a teammate. I remember my time with them fondly and look at the experience as the model which I’ve always wanted new players to feel and experience when they joined my teams as a free agent.”

BBKyle added: “CMSA has been the core of my social life for years. It was the one thing I could count on. As you get older, it’s harder to find time to go out with friends, sit on the phone for hours calling and texting. You would think joining a league would be a lot of effort, but it’s a huge time-saver. You create or join a team, and then you have a weekly social activity scheduled that you don’t even have to think about, except showing up. Being a part of different sports in the CMSA has helped keep me connected with friends, introduced me to countless new friends, and held me be accountable to make sure I set time aside to do something socially when the hustle and bustle of modern life can make you easily forget.

“I knew I was leaving a huge part of me behind (when I moved to Nashville), but the friendships you make with your teammates differs from the casual intersecting of friend groups at bars. They’re long-lasting and fulfilling. Even though I may have left Chicago, my teams are my legacy and even though they’ll change, evolve and grow as time passes, I feel like I’ll always have a home amongst my past teammates and CMSA.”

With eSports, he is still active with CMSA while living in Tennessee.

“It was because of social-distancing and the inability to meet up with friends in-person that I had decided to purchase a PS4 (during the pandemic) to do some online gaming and hang out with my friends at a safe distance,” he said. “We played a lot of APEX originally, but eventually got into a game called Dead By Daylight where your goal is to murder a group of players called survivors by placing their bodies on hooks or to fix generators that will allow you to open a couple gates you can run through to escape the killer.

“One of my volleyball teammates who was a bit more of a gamer than I mentioned that CMSA was thinking about launching an eSports division amid the pause caused by the social-distancing mandates. Together, we decided that we wanted to volunteer and contribute somehow and were invited to attend one of the first leadership meetings to learn a little bit more about the group.”

They were the only two to attend outside of the organizer of the meeting.

“We didn’t realize how early on we were (keen) to the whole idea, thinking we were just going to be sitting there listening in and seeing what minor projects we could help assist with,” BBKyle said. “My teammate and I had brought up that we were playing Dead By Daylight and it was pitched to us that we should put together a league as an offering for the new CMSA eSports … it snowballed from there.”

BBKyle also developed a relationship with Behaviour Interactive, a game developer, to provide prizes, and was involved with starting CMSA’s eSports Twitch channel.

“I have a huge passion for gaming content creation. Though I’m no longer running CMSA’s Dead By Daylight league, I assist their current manager whenever needed as well as assist the manager of the Overwatch league similarly,” he said. “eSports have been eye-opening in a lot of ways and CMSA eSports have helped me keep my sanity.

“Sure, it’s nice to be within the physical presence of other queer people, but not everyone has that privilege and there’s something amazing about the way a simple video game and headset can transport a group of people from all over the world into a single room together.

“I miss my Chicago friends, but CMSA eSports gives me the opportunity to stay in touch with queer people and to queer culture while not yet having found my own bubble yet in the LGBTQ+ community in Nashville.

“The best part (will be), I’ll have CMSA eSports (community) to bring my new Tennessee gamer friends into my Chicago world and almost seamlessly combine the two.”

After all, his favorite part of eSports is the community. “I’ve always considered CMSA eSports more of a gaming community than hardcore eSports,” he said. “We’re kind of the best of both worlds. CMSA’s eSports is for the avid gamer who cares more about the community than competition. We have organized leagues and competitions, but we moderate our community for positivity and adjust our competitions in ways that keep the barrier to entry low for players of all skill levels. I had never played Overwatch, but joined the Overwatch league on a whim, and was clearly a very … very … very bad player, however, not once was I called out or scolded for holding my teams back, and now I have a regular group of people who I get to play it with whenever I feel like logging on.

“I am so grateful for what CMSA has done for my life and the fact that I now have a way to share CMSA wherever I go and with people all over the world; it is truly a special feeling. CMSA has helped shape who I am as a human and I get to offer that to others as well as bring them into my world.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving me these sexy Southern boys here in Nashville with their strong hands and Southern accents, but the CMSA’s community is overflowing with diversity, queerness and culture that deserves to be shared with the world.”

CMSA’s eSports has been an international event. Case in point, one season of Dead By Daylight featured Detox from RuPaul’s Drag Race playing between gigs in Brazil.

CMSA eSports has a discord that is active 24/7. “If you’re from a small town, you have hundreds of other queer people at your fingertips to make conversation, share memes, play games, and just hang out with safely, without judgement or the pressures of trying to look good at a nightclub,” BBKyle said. “One thing I love about gaming and eSports is that we all have a chosen name, our gamertags, and our appearance is whatever we upload as our profile photo. There’s no jocks/twinks/bears, just people who play Dead By Daylight, people who play Fortnite, people who play Dungeons & Dragons, and so on. The only thing you must worry about is being kind and open to meeting new people. If you’re both of those things, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.”

BBKyle said being involved with CMSA’s eSports while living in Tennessee “brings me so much joy that I can only describe as gratefulness,” he said. “It can feel a bit lonely being a new person in a different environment. In Chicago, I was a five or 10-minute walk from my front door to places I was guaranteed to run into friends.

“While Nashville is amazing and the people I’ve met have been kind, welcoming and fun, I’m also busier than when I was working at a bar in Boystown. It takes more time to foster relationships when you’re new without being available to attend every event or accept every invite. Being able to stay a part of CMSA has made this transition so much smoother and has kept me from the FOMO on an outing that could have introduced me to the right people who I should be mingling with to officially find my social scene. Because of CMSA eSports, I feel like I have an entire community of people and friends with me, so I don’t feel pressured to go out to bars daily to find a new friend group. I have my CMSA eSports friends and they’re with me all the time.”

BBKyle said his favorite eSports memory is the ExtraLife 24-hour fundraising streams to benefit the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. “They’re so much fun to put together and organize. There’s always a huge turnout and we end up raising money for a great cause. Seeing how our eSports community really comes together for this event is a huge testament to the strength of the LGBTQ community and positivity CMSA eSports fosters,” he said.

Ironically, BBKyle admits that he is “so bad at eSports that it’s almost comical,” he said. “I honestly picked up gaming because I needed a way to stay social during (the pandemic). I had not (played) online games since the Xbox 360 days and it’s a whole different world now. I rarely care about the game I’m playing and will pick up just about any game someone is willing to play with me.

“CMSA eSports has been great at introducing me to other players and my low skill level at the games I’ve played has never come up as an issue.

“Finding and helping to develop CMSA eSports got me so much more into gaming than I ever imagined I would have become and it’s because of the safe, comfortable and positive community that I look forward to skipping (other) plans to hop onto my computer and spend a weekend at home gaming with friends.”

Connect with Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA)