What the Pride Run Means to Me

We asked George Michael to share his experience at the 2015 Edmonton Pride Run & Walk. Here's what he had to say:

The Edmonton Pride Run & Walk was the first organized run I’d ever participated in. Even running outside was a slow process for me. About three years ago, I started dabbling in it during the summer months (as the alternative seemed impossible!); yet each summer I became progressively more dedicated, which ultimately lead to running greater distances, at faster speeds, and yes, even in harsher weather conditions. This was no easy feat, as I had to overcome a number of barriers, be it finding the personal motivation, endurance and a suitable running style, or simply becoming comfortable with running in public.

One of the first things I noticed about the Edmonton Pride Run & Walk was the welcoming, positive atmosphere and the diversity of the people participating. Actually, let me re-phrase—that would have been the first thing I noticed, if my friend and I had biked a little faster and arrived on time. Instead, five minutes late, we posed for an action-shot high-five at the starting-line balloon arches and took off into the forest, weaving through walkers on the winding trail. My friend joined me in this expedition adorned in a tutu and a long rainbow wig, while I covered myself in full spandex and a rainbow polka-dot headband. We ran. But more accurately, we frolicked; and I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything but, as our frolicking was only met with cheers and positivity as we passed by fellow participants. Rightfully so, too—I’ve never seen anyone don a rainbow wig, a tutu and running shoes in public before (let it be known that this is not for the faint of heart). But what appeared to be even more of a novel idea was that the Pride Run & Walk was so conducive to such merriment that you could be both truly dedicated to the act of running, and actually enjoy it! Now, I can imagine the personal satisfaction and positive atmosphere that surfaces at other runs, especially with longer distances; yet there was something special about this one that really added to this feeling, and I can only guess it was pride, and the individuals who believe in Pride. 

This run was particularly important for me, because no less than a week earlier I had come out to my parents (which ultimately amassed in a hug-sandwich). I felt whole being able to honestly tell them that I was going to a Pride event. I was still nervous about how to approach the subject with them—even though the hardest part had already passed—yet I could see that they were proud, and I imagine that this was only enhanced by the fact that the pride event was something so productive and positive as a run. It felt good to be able to tell them this.

Even in its inaugural year, I already have so many positive personal memories from the Edmonton Pride Run & Walk, that I know I’m walking (or running) in the right direction. And this is in addition to the glorious aisle of supportive high-fives you receive at the finishing-line balloon arches, not to mention the delicious BBQ you get as a reward for finishing the race (both of which were pleasant surprises for me). Though I have not made progress in my running journey by participating in longer races—which was my initial intent—I know for a fact that there’s one run I will be participating in every year; and undoubtedly, I will frolic.

- George Michael