Anthony Citrola, 46, of Bay Shore, Melissa Wohl, 35, of Huntington, Breanna...

Anthony Citrola, 46, of Bay Shore, Melissa Wohl, 35, of Huntington, Breanna Flood, 34, of Huntington, and Robert Kondrup, 35, of Merrick, spend time together during the LGBTQ bowling league at Syosset Lanes. Credit: Howard Simmons

Bowling may be an old-school game, but Monday nights get spiced up throughout the spring at Syosset Lanes. Disco lights spin as songs like “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees, “Last Dance” by Donna Summer and “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc. pump out of a speaker that spreads across 18 lanes. This isn’t for a birthday party but rather Monday Night Fourplay, an LGBTQ-friendly bowling league that has been running since 1992.

“It’s a gay-friendly league but everyone is welcome to bowl here,” says league president Bryan Parsons. “There are husbands and wives that bowl together as well as parents with their children plus husband and husband, wife and wife. It’s all inclusive.”

Breanna Flood, 34, of Huntington, Anthony Citrola, 46, of Bay Shore, and Aris Sarantakos, 42, of Yaphank, attempt a strike at the LGBT bowling league at Syosset Lanes on May 6. Credit: Howard Simmons

The league has been a steady presence at Syosset Lanes for more than 30 years, sans a few seasons in Farmingdale. Currently, there are 72 members spread across 18 teams and growing, with $30 weekly dues.

“There’s a great camaraderie among us,” says Parsons, who has bowled in the league for 17 years. “It’s almost like a mini family.”

What sets this league apart is the blending of not only people from different walks of life but skill level as well.

Shannon Sarantakos, 40, of Yaphank, brings her daughter Fiona, 9, to the bowling league. Credit: Howard Simmons

“Even if you have never picked up a bowling ball in your life, you are welcome here,” says Parsons, 54. “A 100 average bowler can face off against a 200 average bowler because they are on equal footing as the person who has a lower average gets handicap points. It’s competitive but fun. You are bowling to win but it’s not cutthroat.”

FINDING COMMUNITY

Danny Schrafel, of West Hempstead, has been bowling since age 3. With 10-plus years in the league, he now bowls 215 on his team.

“This is the only sport I’ve ever had any talent for whatsoever, so I stuck with it,” says Schrafel, 38.

He was referred to the league by a student life adviser at LIU Post in Brookville.

“The hard part was not coming out. Finding my place in the community was more of a challenge for me,” says Schrafel. The league "was helpful in finding a niche of like-minded people that make me feel comfortable and with whom I could be myself.”

Paul Baron, 60, of Bellrose, Christine Prendergast, 60, and her husband, Thomas Prendergast, 61, both of Massapequa, and Kevin Durnan, 41, of Westbury participate in the Syosset bowling league together. Credit: Howard Simmons

The man providing the music for the league is Anthony Tramuta, of Bay Shore. He is a proud member of the LGBTQ community who bowls weekly with his son, William Margiotta.

“We were looking for a league and this one just fit us,” says Tramuta, 57. “Every week we can’t wait to be here.”

When asked what he takes away from his experience in the league, Margiotta, 38, says, “I’ve learned to have respect for people.”

Maria Gabriel, of New Hyde Park, bowls every week with her 21-year-old son, Matt, who identifies as straight and enjoys the league’s friendly atmosphere.

“It’s very inviting and entertaining,” says Matt. “It’s cool to learn how this community has been around so long even though it’s only been part of the mainstream in recent times.”

LOVE CONNECTION

Sometimes Cupid strikes inside the league. When one  team moved from Thursday nights to the Monday night league, team captain Pete Kovac met John Segreti, of Wantagh.

“Someone told Pete, ‘That Monday league looks fun. You might meet somebody’ and it actually happened,” says Segreti, 62, who is teammates with Tramuta. “We both had a similar interest in theater. Now we have been together for over six months.”

Robert Neder, 72, of Hicksville, Carmela Mollin, 61, of New Hyde Park, Anthony Tramuta, 57, of Bay Shore and John Segreti, 62, of Bellmore, pose for a group photo during the LGBTQ bowling league at Syosset Lanes on May 6. Credit: Howard Simmons

Kovac kept his sexual identity under wraps until he was 21. However, he considers himself “lucky” because the people in his life were “extremely accepting.”

“Once you discover who you are, you really are about finding as much joy as you can,” says Kovac, 55. “If you are around people who are supportive and encouraging allies, you want to just have a wonderful time.”

Meanwhile, Danny Dodd and Ken Mosler, of Levittown, have been married for 31 years and bowling in the league for 20.

“We do this more for fun and socialization,” says Dodd, 59, who bowls 136. “I like to get a good score, but it doesn’t happen, hardly ever.”

HAPPY ACCIDENT

Ted Panagacos, of Plainview, is a straight man who joined the LGBTQ bowling league by accident.

“I haven’t bowled in 30 years, but I decided I needed to do something,” says Panagacos, 50, who bowls 150. “I thought Monday night would work, but I didn’t know it was an LGBTQ league. I got lucky to have found this crazy crew. I’m totally comfortable here.”

The league is very spirited, hosting theme nights surrounding holidays, such as a grab bag at Christmas, a costume contest around Halloween and even a spring Vegas Night featuring mega raffles, brackets and lucky ball dice games plus a dessert table.

“The serious bowlers keep things competitive, but we make sure to integrate some fun,” says Jayson Flock, 58, of Hempstead, who is part of the LGBTQ community and bowls 156. “Life is about having a good time and we are a group that always wants to have a good time.” 

The group bowled its last game of the season at the end of May and is currently accepting sign-ups for when it picks back up again in September. Those interested in joining can attend an organizational meeting on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. at Syosset Lanes.

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