The Boston Theater Company branched into athletics this past weekend for Boston’s first all-inclusive LGBTQ+ 5K on Oct. 31 at the Boston Common, the artistic director said.
Director Joey Frangieh said the 5K, called Road of Rainbows, is the inaugural event for the newest wing of the BTC, the Artist Athletic Association. The company also has an active educational and artistic wing.
One of the AAA’s goals is to provide an inclusive environment for queer athletes. Frangieh said almost all races require athletes to register in a gender group.
“I’ve been able to meet a lot of other queer folks who, the moment they sign up for a race, they feel excluded because they have to choose male or female,” Frangieh said. “For a lot of queer folks in the LGBTQ+ community, they do not identify on the binary.”
The race took place in Boston Common, and the full 5K was three laps around. Frangieh said this was to accommodate all levels of athletes.
“If someone wants to come and sprint three laps around the Common, come do it, we’re here for you,” he said in an interview before the race. “If somebody wants to come in and do one slowly, then we’ll cheer you on and support you as well.”
Skyler Over ran in the race and said the turnout was strong for “when there are a million other events” around Boston on Halloween. To them, and many others, it wasn’t just an ordinary race.
“I run a lot,” they said at the race on Sunday. “I’ve done a lot of races and, all the time, I have to select a gender and that’s very uncomfortable for me being nonbinary. And at this race, I didn’t have to do that.”
Runner Ivo Baca said the three loops around the Common, which he’s walked before, is deceptively challenging.
“It’s a hard loop. It’s actually a very challenging 5K,” he said. “I would love to do it again, just to actually go into it and just see if I can improve on my time.”
Baca’s also a theater patron and ran to support the company’s intersection of art, LGBTQ+ inclusion and fitness, he said.
“It’s really nice to see a company that is out here working, putting the word out. I personally look for these things, but you don’t see them that frequently in Boston, unfortunately,” Baca said. “It’s nice to see some vocal people.”
Mikayla Bell, a 2014 Boston University College of Communication alumnus, was at the race with race sponsor Neta, a local cannabis dispensary she is the community relations manager for. The business was invited to participate in the event “to show our support and show our pride,” Bell said.
“Ultimately, I think for their first race, this is amazing,” she said at the event. “Look at the turnout, all the people, the costumes. I love it. I can feel the energy.”
Tickets were priced at $20, Frangieh said, but participants could pay up to $50, donate a ticket, buy a cheaper ticket or reach out for free tickets, “no questions.”
“In order to be truly inclusive, we also want to be financially inclusive, and we believe that theater and sports are for everybody, regardless of how much money you have,” Frangieh said.
Frangeih said combining the arts and sports created an inclusive space for LGBTQ+ individuals.
“There’s so much art, there’s so much culture in Boston, but we’re also one of the sports capitals of the world,” Frangieh said. “When we realized that in addition to the sports world being not very inclusive of theater folks and artists, they’re also not inclusive of the queer community … [so] we’re going to make an inclusive athletic event, why not?”
Additional reporting by Paul Birmingham