Greetings, SF FrontRunners!
Someone asked me recently if an LGBT running club is still relevant in this evolved state of the planet’s history. Absolutely! An organization that celebrates our identities, elevates a healthy lifestyle, and gives back to many communities (including tens of thousands of runners at the SF Marathon last weekend) shows the rest of the world what we bring to the table. There’s still a great deal of educating to do.
Condemnation of same-sex marriage from the Chick-fil-A business owners (link) has made headlines recently, and spawned some hilarious satire (link). A major disappoint, though, was that the Boy Scouts of America chose last month to uphold its longstanding policy (link) to bar openly gay boys from becoming members and gay and lesbian adults from serving as leaders. It’s unfortunate that this organization that teaches life skills is undermining its own mission. They would be wise to follow the example of other leadership organizations that prepare kids for the real world.
In 2003, while living near Boston, I received a postcard recruitment mailing from Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. A non-discrimination statement was printed on the card that included “sexual orientation” along with race, religion, and the other usual categories. I was pleasantly surprised to see this inclusion and called them up for more information.
Sexual diversity was on the organization’s radar for a number of reasons. Their experience showed that gay adults had more likely struggled with identity issues growing up and tended to be more open-minded and better equipped to provide counsel. An outwardly homophobic Big Brother might be more prone to stifle dialogue or, worse, take steps to “correct” an adolescent’s orientation if he is dealing with similar questions. A gay Big Brother who is “ordinary” in every other way can dispel the ugly myths and reveal our sexual identity for the non-issue it is. We pay taxes, we go to the movies, we shop for groceries. There is no more reason to fear or pity us than if we had green eyes or were left-handed.
I was matched with a 9-year-old boy and enjoyed a two-year stint as his Big Brother. We went to the circus, movies, and museums. We went fly-fishing on Cape Cod and read each other books on Boston Common. I got him to eat more healthfully and exercise more (though running was still a bit beyond his reach). I applied to get him into a Big Brothers–sponsored summer camp in an old western town in Colorado, where he rode horses, sang around a campfire, and acted in a play he’d written with other campers. Our twice-monthly meet-ups enriched us both and offered him experiences beyond a life in the projects where one would be hard-pressed to find a traditional nuclear family.
How refreshing that, almost a decade ago, Big Brothers saw my sexuality as an asset. I look forward to the day when other social service groups follow suit.
That said, an LGBT running group that promotes a healthy lifestyle is a good thing for society. Thank you for being part of SF FrontRunners and being a positive role model for our community.
San Francisco FrontRunners