It was a journey to get to a point where I could come out. Through running I was able to process my transition into this new chapter of my life.
I started running in June 2014, when I was introduced to Frontrunners, an LGBT running group. I met my first gay friends as part of that group. None of my friends outside of Frontrunners knew I was gay at that time though. I’m from a different generation. I didn’t know anybody in my family who was gay. I had no role models. As I got older, I found myself confronted with a feeling. The fact I was attracted to men was buried inside me. I was afraid of the consequences of coming out– that my kids and friends wouldn’t love me anymore.
But I realized that I needed to be who I really am. It was like peeling away outer skin. I was married for 25 years and have three kids. My wife and I divorced four years ago. I started running a few months after the divorce.
I remember my first run with Frontrunners along Chicago’s lakeshore. I could run just a mile, and that included stopping to walk. But it was good to be outside because when I ran, I felt freedom. I still do.
Running has helped me find my identity and feel good about who I am. In April 2016 at the Proud to Run race, which is an LGBT race in Chicago, I came out to everybody I worked with and to my family. Being a part of Frontrunners has given me energy and strength.
When I look back, I realize how much running has been an amazing enlightenment. I’m very comfortable with who I am–a confident gay father. I can be a role model to other young men. A whole other part of my life has been to become more involved with the gay community. I’m part of a gay dad’s group, and I try to promote other gay fathers to get involved with running too because I think it’s a really great activity to help develop who you are. I’m also on the board of Proud to Run and help organize the race.
Being a part of Frontrunners has influenced me to set higher goals for myself. I’ve gotten more into racing, which is something I wasn’t interested in when I started running. But it’s exciting, another level of commitment. I’m going to run a 5K and a 10K this summer and also a 15K later this year. Maybe next year I’ll run a marathon. I’m trying to push myself as I keep moving forward. Running continues to be a big part of my journey of living a positive, healthy lifestyle.