Running Is Gay

It was too early to be up—much less going for a run.

We were at the mouth of Memory Grove Saturday morning standing in line getting our race bibs. I think I might have slept 12 hours over the last four days. I was starting to feel like a character in The Machinist. Erin asked if I would run the 2012 Pride 5K and at the time, it sounded like a fine idea. I just forgot that I would be getting off work at 3am and my body was wrecked from remodeling the basement.

It was a fun atmosphere. There were about a thousand people nervously wandering in circles getting ready for the race. They came in all shapes and sizes. The more adventurous runners were wearing banana hammocks and sneakers while others had more traditional athletic clothes on. There were families with filled push strollers, lesbian couples sporting rainbow colored socks, chubby men with dogs twice as athletic as them, old folks and all points in between.

You wouldn’t know by my washboard abs and chiseled good-looks that I am a 4-time Salt Lake Marathon finisher. You probably wouldn’t be able to guess that I haven’t been to the gym in two months or I have double-downed on my fast food and bourbon consumption. I could make any number of excuses for being out of shape but I’ll settle with the growing trend of obesity in America.

Between the bumping house music and stretching runners, we got into position and started running with the shot of the starter pistol. Off we went. Erin pulled away and headed down the road while I tried to keep a solid pace. There was a distinct juxtaposition of the beautiful hills and trees of Memory Grove with the flamboyant costumes of the runners. The coarse was a hairpin turnaround at 11th Avenue and finishing in the base of Memory Grove.

I was trucking along complaining every step about how I should still be in bed or eating a lumberjack breakfast. My right knee is swollen like a casaba and I’d rather enter a competitive eating contest for Pride. I didn’t drink enough water and I was probably 15% hung-over from the night before. There were home projects that needed to be done, PubCasts to be edited and dogs to be walked. Want to know what I wasn’t complaining about? The fact that I was running in support of gays and lesbians.

This is what I know: 30-years from now, people are not going to be very kind to this generation in how we’ve treated same-sex couples. Just like how racial segregation was the scourge of our grandparent’s generation, how gays and lesbians are treated today is going to be analyzed and mocked in the years to come.

De Jure laws forbidding the same treatment for gays as straights is ludicrous. What is even more obscene is that there are people who actively try and halt equality for all people—I’m talking to you Rick Perry. The world has gotten too small in the digital era for anyone not to want everyone to be treated the same.

As a society, we need to get this equality thing in place and in the rearview mirror as soon as possible. For me personally, there needs to be equality for all so we can get to the Martin Luther King Jr. world of judging people by their character as oppose to some other ridiculous standard. Behind the bar, I am tired of biting my cheek because somebody is acting like a punk but also happens to be in a unique group.

Here’s a news flash: Gays and lesbians can be shitty people too. I have poured more drinks for dipshits that like the same sex than I can count. The problem that I’ve run into is that when I start complaining about them, I come across as a violent homophobe. In truth, I am more of a curmudgeon than anything else. We need equality now so when somebody is acting like a major league toolbag they can be called out for their behavior not because their race, gender, religion or sexual preference.

My humor doesn’t work unless I honestly believe everybody is the same. If you have any prejudices and you try and crack wise about anything, it’s going to have a kernel of honesty to it making you a real sleezeball. My mom might have raised a crummy kid but not a sleezeball.

As I lumbered along the race track trying to finish the 5K, I had runners ahead of me passing by. They came from all walks of life. I imagined some were lawyers, waiters, nurses, architects and cops. They looked happy to be participating in the race. With the exception of the 6-month pregnant woman out-kicking me in the race, I had nothing but respect for all of them.

I firmly believe the only group of people who should have been pro-segregation were plumbers. Imagine, having to have two different set of bathrooms and water fountains for whites and coloreds? Every new construction project meant doubling down on the amount of copper being run. It must have been a sad day for every guy who sweat a pipe when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For the rest of us, it was the final steps towards decency amongst our citizens.

This is the same level of decency that everyone deserves today. We need a landmark national law that gives everyone the same level of equality regardless of sexual preference. And the sooner the better, I don’t know how many more of these races I can do with my bum knee.

I finished the race under 38-minutes. The finish line had cheerleaders and free lemonade, not a half-bad way to end a painful race. With the exception of a bunch of people in drag, the end of the race was no different from any other that I have run before. Erin smoked me by 5-minutes but that was to be expected. She didn’t drink a horsechoker of Buillet three hours before the race.

I am a Padres fan, a Democrat, Nevadan, whiskey drinker, podcaster, bartender, someone who loves bad sci-fi, The Rockford Files and Mexican food. I am not gay but I am also not a lot of other things: I am not a Japanese rocket scientist, a colon rectal surgeon, a big game hunter, starting power forward for the Utah Jazz or a Penthouse Pet of the Year. I couldn’t imagine what it feels like to be born one way and being forced to live another. I’m lucky enough to have parents that accept me for who I am, siblings that don’t question my decisions, a partner who doesn’t feel forced to hide our relationship or friends that give me too much grief.

The day I was born was given an endless amount of opportunity to do whatever I wanted to. I think this is the bare minimum we should extend to all of our citizens. No more but certainly no less.

We went to the Pride parade on Sunday and watched the floats and entries. We’ve been going for years and it was incredibly fun watching the colorful landscape of the people who make up Salt Lake. I could do with less corporate entries (That’s right, IKEA, I’m eyeballing you) but as a whole each year is more fantastic than the one before. I am planning on running the Pride 5K next year. I am not one of those idiots who say that I did my first 5K and I was hooked. I figure the sooner there is equality, the more Saturday mornings I can stay in bed.

Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Check out his podcast, SLC PubCast on iTunes. He really is not much of a long-distance runner.

One thought on “Running Is Gay

  1. I smoked you by 8 minutes but I’m not counting because I was proud of you for running. But seriously it was closer to 10 minutes.

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