During Lesbian Visibility Week 2020 we are delighted to introduce a comparatively recent lesbian member of our club – Emma.
“I ‘came out’ fairly recently in the grand scheme of my almost 35 years on this Earth & although I didn’t make a big deal or announcement of coming out, I’ve been a very excitable and proud lesbian since. Looking back I think it must have always been there but I didn’t realise it at some points or didn’t let myself realise it at others. I know I pushed some thoughts to the background at least. But I’m so glad it’s a thing now as it’s been like coming home and I’m so grateful to my family and friends for not batting an eyelid when they realised & fully supporting me.
I have been running for about four years now and started off my journey with the fantastic This Girl Can, where I met some amazing ladies who are still great friends now and even got to train as a run leader with this wonderful group. I then had a brief stint with Claremont Road Runners who are a lovely bunch and showed me how welcoming and not-scary affiliated clubs can be. My journey from couch potato to loving running was in full swing and about two years ago I ran my first Marathon in the Brecon Beacons, along with a few half marathons and some other fell races. Being up in the hills or muddy is my favourite type of running, as is anything sprinting based.
Newcastle Frontrunners has always been on my radar for a while – mostly because they always looked like they were having loads of fun when you would see them at events and they organise one of the most jolly events of the running calendar – the Newcastle LGBT5k Festival of Running over Newcastle Pride weekend. I, however, wasn’t ‘out’ as gay when I first started noticing them and so didn’t think it was the club for me, although I now realise it is inclusive for all.
It was on splitting up with a partner around this time last year, that I decided to integrate myself more into the LGBT community. I hadn’t really done this before as I thought “why, when I am happy with the friends I have now? I don’t need to be part of the LGBT community just because I am gay”. Then I realised it’s not about that, its not an us-versus-them type of thing. In being gay, I am already part of the LGBT community so it would be nice to get to know others who are too – I also appreciated the support and knowledge that came from it. I love all my non-LGBT friends and this doesn’t change that, but its always great to widen your circle. I don’t, however, label my friends into categories based on their sexuality (I hope I’m making sense here!)
So, this time last year, I noticed that Newcastle Frontrunners were celebrating Lesbian Visibility Week and they were inviting non-members to join them for a run followed by a social. I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to go and see what it was all about. Unfortunately, something came up so I didn’t make it that week but I went along the next week for a trial session. I was lucky in that I knew a couple of members already (Hannah and Jocasta) and Hannah kindly took me to my first session and a few after and this was great to have that comfort (thanks Hannah!) As soon as I stepped through the door on that first session, it was amazing. I felt so welcomed and during the run, a few people dropped back to chat to me and introduce themselves. And it wasn’t like you needed to prove you are gay, prove you are bisexual etc. thing, it was just, “We are pleased you’ve joined us no matter what sexuality you are, we’re happy you’re here”. There is also cake after every Wednesday session! I have made some great friends now in the club and in the wider LGBT community.
It is also amazing that Frontrunners are everywhere in the UK and the rest of the world and you are welcomed if you are on holiday there. I joined Newcastle on a trip to Glasgow for the Glasgow Frontrunners OUTrun race last year and they put on an amazing weekend for any travelling Frontrunners with a free ceilidh.
As this is lesbian visibility week, I want to encourage lesbians to join if they are looking for a club. I think some of the concerns – which I had too – is that you don’t feel you need to join a specific LGBT club just because you’re a lesbian. And this is true – look around all clubs and make an informed choice on which suits you best. But what I will say is that with Newcastle Frontrunners, you don’t feel like you are there because you’re a lesbian, you feel like you’re there because you’re a friend. Pride or LGBT isn’t rammed down your throat. Obviously, we do celebrate and get excited about LGBT stuff and fly the flag for equality but a lot of the time you wouldn’t realise that LGBT is the foundation. You would just see it as an inclusive club having fun.
I am proud to be a lesbian and I am proud to be a part of Newcastle Frontrunners and a lot of the time that isn’t mutually exclusive.