My name is Jules, and I prefer she/her or they/them pronouns. I identify as pansexual, meaning I am attracted to cismen, ciswomen, trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary folk. In other words, I am attracted to a person irrespective of their gender identity. Monogamy feels foreign and deceptive to me, whereas polyamory feels quite natural and honest. These are odd boxes I check, I know, but will you still let me run with you? Will you still value my input, treat me with integrity, acknowledge my role as mother, teacher, intersectional ally, and teammate?
Seems silly, right? That I even feel compelled to ask when I’ve already sprouted my wings, flown fiercely with all of you, have been enveloped in the warm, accepting embrace of unconditional sisterhood. But, news flash (or nah?), I have found running groups to be complex, complicated microcosms of society rather than subversive outlets for runners to access judgement-free spaces in solidarity with other runners. As a queer, poly, female-identified runner, I have been sexually objectified by heterosexual cismen in the co-ed spaces, called crazy for negating transphobic jokes, and brushed aside when advocating for gender-neutral language. Look, if I wanted to subject myself to this sort of environment, I could simply engage with the bigoted keyboard crusaders on Facebook. “For a good time, call…”
My Birds, I heard your unspoken answer even before, together, we took flight. Your virtual doors opened to a space that centered womxn as the focus. You take a stand against injustices instead of remaining neutral and feeding the oppression of marginalized groups. You encourage us to #speakout and #womanup! You have never positioned me as the manic poly dream girl - the token “Polypanna” who owes the community explanations for my identity or Brobirds a threesome. You have valued not only my input, but my queerness and intersectional feminism. You have not only treated me with integrity, but offered a platform for expressions of my identity. And you have not only acknowledged my various roles, but celebrated them as contributing factors to Volée’s growing diversity.
As we approach June, a month dedicated to our LGBTQ odd-box checkers, I am reminded how fortunate I am to live in a city and run with a community of womxn and allies who unabashedly celebrate Pride. Fortunate and grateful. I also recognize that my fortune constitutes one aspect of my privilege, an aspect not enjoyed elsewhere in our country and our world by our queer Birds and runner folk. So this June, I will, as always, participate in Seattle’s local Pride festivities, from marching in the Seattle Pride Parade to running (ok, likely jogging) with my Volée teammates in Seattle Frontrunners’ annual Run/Walk with Pride. But there’s nothing inclusive about operating within a bubble; on the contrary, true inclusivity means ensuring even those on the fringes - those without the privilege of the PNW’s gusto for Pride - experience the same level of acceptance, the same unconditional sisterhood, I enjoy firsthand roosting so close to the Nest. Whether it’s including gender-neutral language in a survey or thoughtfully expanding our definitions of “woman,” I would encourage all of us to straddle the intersections of feminism not just in the month of June but everyday as we strive to even more intentionally include our current and prospective LGBTQ-identified teammates in our celebrations of empowerment, body positivity, diversity, and athleticism. Eternal gratitude, my #badassladygang.
When the sun of compassion arises, darkness evaporates
and the singing birds come from nowhere.
― Amit Ray
Head Up, Rainbow Wings Out!