I was third in the Timex Series for BC this year. I guess this is another accomplishment to add to my growing resume of running achievements. This is evidence that hard work and dedication to sport really do pay off when performance counts.
I have much on my mind lately. With Vancouver Gay Pride on the horizon I can report much personal growth in the last year. As I hung my rainbow flag on my balcony tonight I reflected on how far I have come.
Last year I wrote a blog outlining how I was proud of who I was but not proud of being gay. My perspective has changed. I have a lot of accomplishments in my life and by any account I am quite successful. I am well educated, an elite athlete, handsome and with a rewarding and meaningful career. I am also gay.
To many people in our society the 'gay' of the previous paragraph cancels everything else. I live in a cosmopolitan city which is quite liberal and accepting. If I am to venture outside my enclave of partial enlightenment (gays are still getting bashed in the Westend) I will be met with stares and derision. I would not show affection to a boyfriend in public if I was in most places in Canada unless I knew there was no one watching. This is not a good thing.
Growing up gay is hard. Gay teenagers kill themselves. Gay teenagers kill themselves a lot. The scary and frightening aspect of this fact is that there are many in society who think this is good. Obviously I do not.
I wish I could report that living a life less ordinary is easy so long as you make it to adulthood. The fact remains that being gay in today's society is a distinct disadvantage. Of course the gays have more of a presence in mainstream society and with gay marriage being legal and more inclusive rights the life I live is far more fair than of my gay forefathers. The fact remains that within heterosexual society I feel much like a novelty or passing fad. I worry about the future and what impact my overt gayness may have on my future. If history repeats itself than I am very frightened for what the future holds.
With all our progress and acceptance I still have friends who are in the closet at work. I hold my tongue when speaking with certain individuals for fear they lose trust in me if they hear I am gay. I have been called a 'faggot' while in a race in BC and I now think I am the fastest runner in BC without any support from anyone outside of my friends, family and teammates. Financially running costs me far more than I win or earn. Nothing comes free for me.
The thing is, I am proud to be gay. I have had to overcome more than most people would dream of. The hardest of which may have been growing up gay in a small conservative community in rural Nova Scotia. Despite growing up in one of the most conservative areas of the country I managed to turn out to be a really awesome person who does not need to rely on any handouts. Everything I have I earned. It is the gay way.
Running has always been a tool for me to measure myself, to grow and improve. It has enabled me to recognize that I have value. It has shown me that I can do something well. I have seen the direct outcome of hard work and dedication. At the start line of a race it does not matter who is gay, straight or whatever. The only thing that matters is how fast you can get to the finish line. But alas, life is not running. Life is not a race.
In the real world it matters if you are gay; it matters if you have an opinion; it matters who you schmooze. It does not matter if what you speak is true so long as you speak it loud.
It has taken a while but I think I am starting to get my voice. My rainbow flag is flying. I am hear to shout. I am here, I am queer, and fucking proud of it.
I do not know what my running future holds. My running performance over the last year has earned me a spot at nationals for 10 km road racing to represent BC. There are financial costs associated with traveling on a BC Team that I am unsure of wanting to incur. My foot is getting better and I was able to have a solid run tonight. I am still fit and I know I can get myself into race shape in around 4 to 5 weeks. I want to run Nationals but at the same time I am very happy right now, happier than I have ever been. The toll that training takes on both my body and emotions is scary. I do not know if I want to go back to that place.
Being satisfied is a scary thing at times. Contentment does not breed excellence, quite the contrary. Without struggle there is no reward. Without a goal there is no finish line. What is my new struggle? What is my new goal?
I am gay. This is my struggle. I am gay. This is my new goal.