Out athlete trains for 26-mile marathon to raise LGBTQ visibility

Out athlete trains for 26-mile marathon to raise LGBTQ visibility

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A local entrepreneur has started a GoFundMe ahead of a 26.2-mile marathon he’s running to raise funds and visibility for LGBTQ athletes.

Kedzie Teller, owner of a marketing and consulting business in Philadelphia, is raising money for Athlete Alley, a New York-based international nonprofit working at the intersection of sports and LGBTQ equality. The runner said he wants to normalize openly gay athletes to combat the “homophobic environment perpetuated in sports.”

Teller started with a goal of $1,000 but quickly met it, and then bumped it up to $2,500. By press time, he had raised close to $1,700 for Athlete Alley.

Teller is also an athlete who turned to marathon running after retiring from the national U.S. Quidditch team. Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, where the fictitious game was originally mentioned, quidditch is a mixed-gender contact sport with a unique mix of elements from rugby, dodgeball and tag. A quidditch team is made up of seven players who use “wizard” brooms between their legs at all times.

Teller played for the U.S. team in the International Quidditch Association World Cup 2012-2014 and continued competing in Major League Quidditch until last year. He explained that he wanted to break away from the sport but still remain athletically active. After consulting with his sister, who regularly participates in marathons, Teller turned his attention to long-distance running to stay in shape, but also as a way to “work through issues.”

“I use long-distance running as my therapy. It’s cathartic for me and allows me to work through all the things I have going on in my daily life,” he said.

The 2018 Gorham Savings Bank Maine Marathon takes place Sept. 30, and will be Teller’s first attempt at a long-distance running competition. Runners follow a course that starts and finishes along the southern end of the Back Cove, the inner-bay area near downtown Portland, Maine.

Teller chose the New England marathon as an homage to his home region: He grew up 10 minutes south of Portland.

He spent his youth playing soccer and was a Division I sprinter in college before turning his attention toward quidditch. But being gay made him feel he wasn’t good enough as an athlete, he said.

“I could walk onto a field and be the best athlete there, but I never felt like I was. I felt like I had to tackle harder, score more goals, be faster. I had to overachieve just to feel like I was on an equal playing field with my heterosexual counterparts. Even if I scored more goals than anyone else on the team, I still felt lesser because I was gay.”

Today, Teller is one of Athlete Alley’s 188 ambassadors that, work to end homophobia and transphobia in sports. The athlete said he is using his current training period as an “opportunity to share Athlete Alley’s message in a more proactive way. I’m trying to spread awareness of what Athlete Alley does while, at the same time, raising money to put back into the organization.”

Teller is tracking his training journey via #RunProud on social media. The marathon has opened his eyes to how important visibility is, he said.

“Think about how many kids have no one to look up to, or feel so alone because they may not see or identify with someone who’s just like them,” he said.

“I used to say that I never wanted my sexual identity to define who I was. It’s a part of who I am, but it’s not who I am. I have taken it upon myself to make it a bigger part of who I am now.” 

To donate to Kedzie Teller’s marathon fundraiser, visit www.gofundme.com/runproud.

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