November Project Pride

Today’s blog post is a guest post from our very own Sam Lee. A friendly reminder about what those colors stand for when you wear them loud and PROUD.


Once a year, on an otherwise-ordinary Monday morning in the end of June or beginning of July, we ditch the black spray paint at November Project San Diego and break out a broader spectrum of colors for tagging. OK, so the six cans we use technically only represent a few discrete points along the visible color spectrum, and our elementary school art teachers are all shaking their heads at us because we don’t even honor the “I” in ROYGBIV, but I think we can all agree that those rainbow-tagged shirts look oh-so-fresh.

The stoke level is always high within the tribe to earn Pride #grassrootsgear, usually via a 5k (or sometimes 6k) race, and after having helped out with the tagging alongside some true NPSD heroines (special shout-outs to Audrey & S’Moers!) the last three years, each time seeing how excited y’all get for these shirts, I can say without a doubt that it is one of my favorite workouts to attend, even if I don’t get to run around with the rest of you crazies.

November Project San Diego

Colored spray paint. Some metal and wood stencils. A light-colored shirt of your choosing. Happy Pride! That’s all there is to it, right?

Wrong.

We all know that beyond the #freefitness, November Project’s ethos is heavily focused on building a welcoming and inclusive community. Workouts that are scalable and open to everyone are, of course, the means by which the foundation of that community is laid, but it extends well beyond our shared mornings at 6:29AM:

We race ECS and Ragnar events together. We get coffee together (and lots of it). We go camping and hiking and biking and swimming together. We support charities together. We experience love and loss, birth and death — life — together.

November Project San Diego

What starts with a good workout ends in a multitude of great new friendships, incredible memories, and open doors for growth in our individual and communal lives. All of this is available to each and every one of us, qualifier-free, if only we #justshowup ready to embrace all that NP has to offer. It’s why we call ourselves a tribe (see also: not not a cult) and ultimately, in many ways, the tribal and communal aspect of NP is too awesome to fully describe in a few-hundred word blog post. However, what can be pointed out here is that, at some point, it may become easy to take all of that awesomeness — that warmth, friendliness, encouragement, and love — for granted.

I’ll offer you first some Pride-related perspective on taking NP for granted and then, to bring it all full circle, a simple request for when you wear your Pride-tagged #grassrootsgear.

For members of our tribe who identify as LGBTQ+, I think we may have a slightly different take on how wonderful the feeling of acceptance is among a group of one-time strangers who are now lifelong friends. For us, that feeling may not always have been there in our lives, due to both external and internal reasons, such as where we grew up, our religion, what our family environment was like, or any number of other circumstances. Many of us have dealt with episodes of exclusion, or even hatred, on account of our sexual orientation or gender identity. At some point, many of us have even turned those same questions of self-worth and of place in the world against ourselves as part of the process of knowing, understanding, and accepting who we are. And for many of us, that process is still unfolding to this day.

As a whole, finding inclusion and acceptance has been something we and our allies have had to fight for, and while many battles have been won, there may yet be moments ahead where we’ll need to fight for and defend ourselves, with our allies at our sides, just as much as we ever have before.

Thankfully, and speaking personally, seldom in my life has there been a group like November Project within which I’ve felt 100% comfortable to be myself — a runner / cyclist / camper / hiker / photographer / enginerd… who also happens to identify as gay — from day one. This movement is about bringing all fitness abilities, all races, all ages, all sexual orientations and gender identities, all walks of life, all together, to first work out and then to use those good vibes to do something positive in the world. The sense of togetherness and welcomeness that this fitness community strives to achieve, acknowledging that we are more capable together on account of our diversity rather than in spite of it, is what truly makes November Project awesome.

November Project San Diego

So, in my mind, those Pride-tagged shirts are more than just a seasonally-appropriate wardrobe item for you to wear during this weekend’s festivities. They are symbolic of what November Project stands for as a safe space for anyone and everyone. They represent our collective commitment to love and to support each other for exactly who we are, or who we are intent on becoming. They reflect externally the unique vibrancy and diversity that we each contain within ourselves, and exemplify the entire spectrum of individuals that, when woven together through workouts, yields the colorful and strong fabric of our tribe.

November Project San Diego

So, about that request I mentioned earlier: when you don your Pride-tagged #grassrootsgear, let it remind you of how this movement makes you feel welcome, included, and loved for who you are, and that whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally, I’m glad you’re here.

Be bright, NPSD, and have a happy and safe Pride!

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