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Runner stories

Celebrating love and inclusion with our LGBTQ+ community

Brooks LGBTQ+ members
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This Pride season, Brooks is celebrating all love by showcasing LGBTQ+ love stories. We partnered with the renowned artist Lisa Congdon to create the Run Proud Collection and bring visibility to the many voices of the LGBTQ+ community and encourage everyone to run true to themselves.

How we’re celebrating love

There are many journeys to becoming a runner and infinitely more pathways for connecting with one’s runner community, or beyond. And just like there’s no one right pathway for running, there are no limits on love, either.

We’re proud to highlight stories from our community members all over Europe – and beyond. We met with each of them to find out how they’re connecting beyond the run, the importance of community, and how they move and love.

Meet our community

How do you move? What does the running community mean to you? Those are just two of the questions we asked our LGBTQ+ community members. Check out their answers and be sure to follow them on social media for inspiration when it comes to building your community.

Marco Papandrea

Content Merchandiser @BrooksRunning, Marco Papandrea

How do you move?

Since my work is an office job, it is essential for me to get moving before and during my working hours. My mornings are devoted to CrossFit training and during lunchtime, I tend to go for a quick run or gym workout. Movement can be interpreted in many ways. People move to dance, stay healthy, express emotions, change, and take action. Movement is part of everyone’s life.

In what ways do you create and share stories?

I share and create stories at Brooks Running! No joke. My work consists of creating and building content on the Brooks website. I am proud to work for a brand that raises awareness and creates a safe and welcoming space for all.

How does your community move together, or share love?

Being part of the LGBTQ+ community feels like we are in some ways connected, a bit like brothers and sisters. Always there to support each other and that is what makes this community strong.

I have a goal and it is to make the Run Proud campaign bigger each year. My LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ colleagues are all there to support this cause. That is why I am not moving alone, instead, we as a team at Brooks move together.

Laura Ramos de Blas

Run Happy Team-member, Laura Ramos de Blas

What is your perspective on “Running is the most inclusive sport in the world”?

Running is the most inclusive sport and one of the most accessible sports, allowing people to coexist, contribute and build together. Running unites us at the same starting point, without distinction and nothing that excludes us.

Is it important to pay attention to the LGBTQ+ community in running? Why?

Undoubtedly! Being visible and present in all areas helps to normalise it, and break through prejudices. It helps to build more tolerance, fairness and a more diverse world where everyone is equal. Together we reach greater heights and that is why it is so important to join forces and work as a team to make the running community the best team representing the LGBTQ+ community.

What does Run Proud mean to you personally?

Run Proud to me is running with pride and courage. It’s running with your heart. When we run, there’s always something there that pushes us a bit further, to try a little bit harder, or to win a race. Running with pride means, to me, running without fear.

Mario Calvo

Run Happy Team-member, Mario Calvo

What is your perspective on “Running is the most inclusive sport in the world”?

Although running seems like an individual sport, deep down we are all one big family in which we all support each other. However, although I consider running to be inclusive, there are still people who don't accept homosexuality. Much remains to be done to break that barrier.

What does running and the running community mean to you?

Running for me means everything... Because it's where I found my place. The running community don’t see you as a "freak", which is why I found my place in this beautiful sport.

Is it important to pay attention to the LGBTQ+ community in running? Why?

It’s essential to show our support to young people who are still not capable of accepting themselves for fear of being labelled. Running is not a sport for men or women. It’s a sport for everyone and it gives us an example of values, discipline, and inclusion like no other.

Steph Grant

Photographer and owner of the LGBTQ+ media agency Steph Grant Studios, Steph Grant

In what ways do you create and share stories?

I’d say most people know me for being one of the first LGBTQ+ wedding photographers in the industry. In 2013, I had photographed the first lesbian Indian wedding in the US which quickly became a viral love story.
Representation in the media ultimately saves lives and it has been lacking for too long. Every single day we have an opportunity to change that. Our stories are one of the biggest tools we have to create those moments of true connection and the opportunities to cultivate positive change in our world.

How can stories connect communities?

Sharing our stories can change minds and soften hearts. I truly believe that it saves lives. I have experienced this first-hand through my work as a photographer and during my own coming out process. Having LGBTQ+ representation in the media is life changing. I plan to continue sharing those stories. It’s so rewarding to have complete strangers say that they felt like they had a front-row seat at the weddings that I have shot or that after seeing my images and stories they can no longer support their stance against the LGBTQ+ community.

How does your community move together, or share love?

There’s a fierce bond that connects the queer community. Our experiences, although unique to each of us, shape how we connect with others. Oftentimes, that can come with deep layers of trauma. Who we choose to surround ourselves with during that time can either make or break us. We are responsible for making moves to heal ourselves in our own time, protecting our peace along the way, and doing our part to support others in a healthy environment so that we can put more love into the world... together.

What’s your story?

Brooks supports all who love and all who run – including you and your communities! One way we support the run community is sparking different conversations and helping runners connect. We would love to see the stories you are creating and learn how your community connects through the run, movement or love. Tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.