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  • LGBT National Help Center

Running for Equality – From the track in rural New England to the Gay Games in Guadalajara Pt. 1

We’re excited to let you know of a partnership the LGBT National Help Center has joined to help track & field athlete Roger Barraby get to the 11th Gay Games in Guadalajara.

What’s the Gay Games you ask? Founded by Dr. Tom Waddell, Brenda Young and others in the early 80s it is a worldwide sporting event that promotes the principles of “participation, inclusion and personal best” within the LGBTQIA+ community. The mission is to create the power to bring people of various different backgrounds together, unified through the healthy participation of athletics and sports.

The Gay Games are held every four years with thousands coming together from all walks of life, from all parts of the globe.

In a time where we still fight against homophobia and transphobia events such as the Gay Games allow us to come together and celebrate our amazing international community and to compete in an environment of openness, respect, and affirmation to all who participate. The importance of the ability for athletes to be able to compete, out and as their true authentic selves cannot be over stated.

The Gay Games are happening this year in two locations, Hong Kong and Guadalajara with just about every sport available imaginable this coming November.

Now in spring, and the ground isn’t covered in snow, Roger Barraby, track and field participant of the Gay Games in Guadalajara, can begin his training once again outside. Roger trains on the track of Windsor High in the small town of Windsor Vermont (population 3,500). His story started 12 years ago when at that same school, the school’s track coach pulled him aside during basketball practice. She could see his potential, with his long legs and scouted him for track.

By end of the winter season he found himself on her team. He found his family there. Growing up he wasn’t out at home. But he was his real authentic self on the track. He was abele to be himself and found the love and support that we all should be able to have in our lives. He was able to reach into himself and was able to push himself further than he could ever imagine. This athletic family welcomed him in and he was part of it. Because he was able to be himself, he was able to fully be himself, wear that made him feel confident, have the support of his team mates and coaches, he was able to discover what he was capable of, and found that he was a winner.

Acceptance, respect and being able to be your full authentic self is what we all strive for. We talk with individuals every day on the LGBT National Coming Out Support Hotline (and our other hotlines) about just that. Each person is on their own personal journey. Visibility of those who have come before them is huge. Knowing that there are competitions like the Gay Games allow those who may still be in the closet, who are living in isolation, or may feel they are not worth respect can look towards those who are achieving incredible things for themselves, and the community. When Roger runs, he’s running for himself, for his personal best. But he also runs for everyone else who has come before him who fought for him to be able to be his amazing self, and he runs for those who will follow him on the track and out in the world.

We were able to meet up with him on the track in Windsor this month. There was still a chill in the air and the sun was setting. But that wasn't going to stop him in his routine of stretching and running. This a time that he is able to listen to his body and feel it come alive on the track. After a long winter, he’s able to finally be outside on a track in the fresh air, giving his all.

We’ll be brining you more on Roger, his journey, and the Gay Games in the coming months. There are links above if you want to learn more on Tom Waddell, the founder of the Gay Games and the Games themselves. And you can help us get Roger to the games in Guadalajara this year. Link below to donate to his gofundme, any and all financial support get’s him that much closer to the games.

Like Roger, you are amazing, you are worth respect,

and part of an LGBTQIA+ community and family that is better because you’re part of it.

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