Thursday, July 29, 2010

Timex Top 3

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.

Happy Training!

3 comments:

  1. Well writen and a thoughtful post. Congrats on the #3 as well. ChristopherYVR

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  2. J. D., I've been following your blog posts on and off for some time, and I'm compelled to leave a comment that is meant sincerely and not intended to hurt or upset you.

    You say you're proud to be gay, but I think you're still too concerned about what other people think of you, or would think of you, if they knew. Here's what I've learned in my 50 years: If you own being gay, that is, fully accept it, it doesn't matter what other people think. It only matters what you think. And, believe me, when it no longer matters to you, people will respond to you differently. Nine times out of ten, they won't care either.

    I've written numerous blog posts about this. Whatever we may have gone through when we were younger and were made to feel badly about ourselves because we're gay we make ten times worse long after the teasing and ridicule and discrimination are over. When we are no longer the object of other people's ridicule, yet we still feel miserable about who we are, or haven't truly learned to love ourselves, we have to look at the source of our misery. It's usually ourselves. In the end, no one discriminates more against us than we do--and we do it for a lot longer than anyone else ever did.

    On my twenty-five year long journey of coming out to people time and again, whether family members, friends, or co-workers, none of them failed to accept me because I'm gay. When I accepted myself, they had to accept me, too, because they knew they'd lose me if they didn't. And, if they didn't, they didn't deserve me anyway.

    And one final thought: I really admire your commitment to running. It's obviously important to you, and I applaud your persistence and pursuit of excellence.

    At the same time, over and over, I've wondered while reading your blog if your literal running is symbolic of your figurative running--away from accepting yourself, away from who you are, away from your current circumstances, and even away from finding the partner you say you want.

    Slow down a little. Don't be so obsessed. Work on loving yourself. Don't put limitations on the man you're looking for to share your life, because we can't always decide for certain who the best person for us is. Have faith. Be the best person you can be.

    Good luck with everything. Keep smiling.

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  3. Thanks for the comments!

    Many people think running is a metaphor for running away from something, it is not. I just really like running and it has been very good to me.

    As for being concerned with what others feel I may write a blog on this in the future. There is some sociological theory on the concept of self that I found very interesting as an undergraduate student. How do we create our self identity? The self is not shaped in a vacuum and some would argue that there is no self without what we think others think we are.

    Thanks!

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