During pride month this June, rabbit is celebrating every runner, from A to LGBTQ to Z. In this first of two installments celebrating pride month, learn more about RADrabbit Michael Reed, his relationship to running, how the sport has impacted him, and what it means to celebrate pride.
Michael Reed, a RADrabbit living in Michigan, first started running in sixth grade when he joined the cross country team. It was an activity that he and his twin brother, Jeffrey, enjoyed together. He continued running on the track and cross country teams at his high school in Dewitt, Michigan, but he left the teams before he graduated. At the young age of sixteen, Michael became just the second person at his high school to disclose their sexual orientation. As a then openly gay man, the world became a scarier place.
“At the time, that was young. It’s more of the norm now, but it was very young then. It was really scary. If you aren’t fulfilling that masculine stereotype, you become the target [of bullies]especially on the sports fields.”
He instead found his community, and acceptance, in marching band, theater, and choir during the remainder of high school, and would eventually perform for the marching band at his alma mater, the University of Michigan, during his four years of university. High school was a challenging time in his life, compounded by a complicated family dynamic that left him feeling less than supported.
In search of a more accepting community, Michael moved to New York City after college and began working at Columbia University. It’s also when he rediscovered his love for running. He had run to stay in shape for marching band throughout college but had fallen out of regular running since.
He set a goal to run a half marathon and signed up for one in Madison, Wisconsin in 2013. This began what Michael calls his “new chapter with running.” In this new chapter, running became more than a means to stay in shape; it became a way to build confidence, to heal relationships, to find acceptance and, eventually, love.
Michael reconnected with his twin brother and they ran the half marathon in Madison together that year. Michael even shaved his head so that he would look more like Jeffrey. “I leaned into the twin thing,” he laughs. “My twin and I went through a journey of some very rough times through the coming out. [The half marathon] was a nice way to reconnect and bond and do something together.”
During his last year in NYC before moving back to Michigan and becoming the Director of Annual Giving and External Relations at his alma mater, Michael met his partner and soon-to-be husband, Tyler. And it was running that brought them together early on in the relationship.
“We met online. I think it was our second date, we ran a race together on New Year’s Eve. He was like, ‘This is weird for a second date but I think you’re a runner.’ [laughs] Running was something that bonded us together.”
At the end of last year, during their weekly Sunday run together, Tyler surprised Michael with a proposal and a party filled with their chosen family, including Michael’s brother and sister and Tyler’s sister and brother-in-law.
Pride month has a powerful fifty-three year history. The month of June is meant to honor and celebrate the rights and culture of the LGBTQ+ community. Michael recognizes the historical importance of this fight, and, in a somber but ernest tone, explains well the need for this recognition:
“Pride month is a place for us to tell our stories. It’s a place for our history to live on for those that aren’t here. The people that are here get to tell their stories and there’s so much power in that. We’re real people. I’m a real person and I have feelings. I’m a person with the same kind of stories that you might have to. That’s when you can start to relate to people. That’s what I love about pride month. I think people can learn from the history of pride.”
In the years since 2013, Michael has run four marathons and he’ll line up for his fifth at the Chicago Marathon later this year. As Michael talks about his last decade of running, it becomes clear that the sport of running has allowed him to access emotions and build relationships in invaluable ways.
“Running is a healing thing for me. It’s something I can count on every day to be happy.”