This Sunday, as we honor National Coming Out Day, LA Pride is asking you to do more than just celebrate being out. They also want you to run.
In a partnership with EnMotive, an event management company, LA Pride is launching the first-ever National LGBTQ+ Pride Stride Virtual Run, a 5k/10k event beginning on October 11th. The event was brought to fruition by LA Pride board of directors members Candie Davidson-Goldbronn and Tracy Paaso, who both understood the importance of wellness — the former as a Children’s Hospital LA employee and the latter as an avid athlete. Paaso says that the two were excited to host the event nationwide around the world for the opportunity to focus on health and wellness, especially considering how health and wellness weave into the LGBTQ+ community, which experiences higher suicide rates, mental health risks, and homelessness than the general population.
To achieve that mission, LA Pride brought in EnMotive, which always attaches nonprofit charities with their projects to increase visibility and raise money for the groups. After discussing the event, the management company suggested the idea of having 20% of registration fees go to local nonprofits. Thrilled with the idea, LA Pride has since partnered with more than 34 Pride organizations from across the country to raise awareness about Pride, local nonprofits, and the #StillWeVote campaign.
“We spoke to all the Prides — or most of the Prides we could get a hold of — from the larger Prides to the small reaches of Sioux Falls, South Dakota,” Paaso told GO. “Every single Pride that we spoke to said yes, and if they couldn’t do it for one reason or another, they were on board for next year. It was so amazing to say, ‘This is so great to bring the community together at this time.’”
One of those Pride organizations that gave an emphatic “yes” to Paaso and LA Pride was the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, the nonprofit representing New York. Being a part of Pride Stride is important, according to the nonprofit’s CEO Stacy Lentz, because “Stonewall is where Pride began.” Thanks to Covid-19’s impact on Prides across the country in 2020, she says, it’s more important than ever to host events celebrating our queer identities because “visibility saves lives.”
As well as representation, Lentz noted the political climate as a reason for the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative to participate in Pride Stride. Pointing to attempts from the Trump administration to roll back protections for the LGBTQ+ community, Lentz tells GO that bringing the community together in a welcoming and inclusive space is what is needed right now.
“This administration is rolling back rights — especially for our trans brothers and sisters — and we need to show support by coming together,” says Lentz. “Something like Pride Stride, that’s happening across the country, is easy for everyone to participate [in]; you don’t have to run, you can walk, you can stroll, you can skip, you can hop — on your own time virtually, safely, masked. It seemed like the perfect fit for us.”
And Pride Stride is hoping that your desire to run is directly tied to your desire to donate. On top of your registration fee, EnMotive’s system allows participants to give more to their chosen nonprofit by donating directly to the organization — an opportunity that has been majorly successful thus far. According to Paaso, EnMotive’s average additional donation was roughly two to three dollars per person. However, for the first time in the event company’s history, Pride Stride hit a giving amount of eight dollars per person.
“That’s another thing that really encouraged us to do this: that even though we know right now we are in the crux of political upheaval, we are in this period of incredible giving,” Paaso notes.
That recognition of the current political environment is echoed by Sharon-Franklin Brown, Board President of LA Pride and the first Black transgender woman appointed to lead Christopher Street West. She says that “Pride Stride is more than a celebratory event” — it’s also a political one.
“In these crucial times where the current US Administration has rolled back hard-fought civil liberties for the LGBTQ+ community — especially for our most vulnerable members — we must continue to protest in all forms,” said Brown over email. “Pride Stride is a continuation of those protests that began more than 50 years ago for the rights of LGBTQ+ folks to live their lives as they so choose, free from fear, harassment, and discrimination. It is a beacon of hope for those who may be struggling to live their authentic lives. It is an opportunity for folks, queer and straight allies alike, to come together in support of each other. “
For those interested in participating, you can register for the event at the Pride Stride website by choosing your state (and, by default, the nonprofit your donation will go to). While the run is being hosted online, it will still take place in person, with all participants being allowed to walk or run at their own pace on their own route. It’s up to you when to participate even, with registration opening on October 11th, National Coming Out Day, and continuing until October 31st. If you want to be a part (and get a cool swag bag), all you have to do is sign up before the event ends.
If you happen to miss the event sign-ups, Paaso assures me that you’ll be seeing Pride Stride in 2021 as well. And despite the fact that she can’t say for sure what it will look like, she reminds me with a laugh that “nobody knows what 2021 is going to look like” anyway.
“I think the thing I’m most excited for is to know that this is the first year we’re doing it,” says Lentz. “I think this will turn into something bigger and better every year, and I’m really excited that these organizations came together.”
Sign up to run at pridestride.org. Registration is open until October 31st, 2020, and registration costs $40.