At Brooks we celebrate all who run and all who love. We believe running is the most inclusive sport, which is why we partner with Front Runners, a running club that promotes inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.
What is Front Runners?
Front Runners was Inspired by Patricia Nell Warren’s “The Long Distance Runner” — which many consider one of the most celebrated gay love stories ever. The first Front Runners club was formed in San Francisco in 1974, and about 100 clubs now exist worldwide.
To help them continue giving and running in the name of love, we provided grants to the Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach Front Runners chapters. These clubs are invested in their communities. All chapters are using their grants to give back in one form or another, whether it’s through philanthropy, sponsoring a Pride Run / Walk or expanding their imprint.
Meet the Front Runners
We sat down with five different Front Runners members to capture their unique stories and discover what running proud means to them.
Jared, Atlanta chapter
Jared grew up in an upper middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama, but as a gay, black male, he struggled to fit in in the traditional sense. Entering college, Jared believed he would never be able to come out, and he searched for acceptance through student government and other scholastic organizations. During the last semester of his senior year, he received a DUI and was forced to face some of his inner turmoil. But Jared now looks back on that night as a blessing. After the public exposure that came with his DUI, he felt he couldn’t hide anymore and made the brave decision to come out to family and friends. After college, his new job took him to Atlanta, where he found Front Runners, which quickly became his extended family and helped him accept and love himself for exactly who he is.
Jim, San Francisco chapter
Jim has been running since high school. During his sophomore year, he made the switch from track to cross country and took to the sport immediately. In 1988, Jim came out as gay, and to immerse himself in the community, he joined the San Francisco Front Runners chapter. Jim has now been a member of Front Runners for over 30 years. When a job opportunity took him to Florida with his now husband, he established Tampa’s first Front Runners chapter. Over the years, the club has become the foundation of his friendships. Once a solitary runner, he now uses his runs as an opportunity to catch up and enjoy his time with friends. Jim lives a full, healthy life, and at 60, he has no intention of slowing down.
Jake, Seattle chapter
At 15, Jake came out as gay to his uncle Ed, a long-time Front Runners member. It was Ed who introduced Jake to the Front Runners Seattle chapter and encouraged him to participate in the annual run / walk Pride event. Ed also introduced Jake to the Gay Games in 2018. These were Jake’s first introductions into what a welcoming, healthy, and gay community looked like, and they had a profound impact on the rest of his life. Ed promised himself that when he grew up, he would be part of a community like that. Fifteen years later, and a new Seattle transplant, Jake kept his promise to himself and joined Front Runners. While his uncle has since passed, Jake knows Ed would be proud of the strong friendships he has built through Front Runners.
Linda, Seattle chapter
Every Saturday, Linda laces up her shoes and goes for a run. She didn’t consider herself a runner until she was introduced to Front Runners through a friend in 1969. Now she’s served as a member of the board for almost 14 years. Growing up, she was discouraged from partaking in sports because of her gender, but now Lisa has gone on to participate in the Gay Games, where she received a gold medal. Part of what she loves about Front Runners is that it brings in a multigenerational, diverse audience from all walks of life. She loves seeing the young runners blossom and believes it’s extremely valuable to older generations to surround themselves with younger ones.
Ramon, Portland chapter
After moving from Michigan to Portland, Ramon was looking for a way to get involved and plant new roots in the gay community. A friend recommended Ramon try Front Runners, and he’s been going ever since. Ramon has forged strong connections with the members of Front Runners and has developed deeper relationships with the Portland community through the club’s volunteer work. Ramon is involved in a community cleanup club and volunteers for a sexual minority resource centre that assists LGBTQ+ youths who have been turned away by family. Front Runners has taught Ramon to be more accepting of others and encouraged him to embrace his more competitive nature. Soon he hopes to reach his goal of completing a half marathon at a 6:15 pace!
Interested in joining a Front Runners chapter? You can find a club near you, learn about events, and explore other ways to get involved at frontrunners.org.
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Run Proud Collection
Celebrate all who run and all who love with the new 2021 Run Proud Collection. Check out festive, new looks for the Distance Graphic Tee, Distance Graphic Tank, Discovery Trucker Hat, and Tempo Knit In Crew socks.