#NationalComingOutDay, celebrated last week on October 11th is a day of remembrance and recognition for the individual stories, journeys, struggles and triumphs in coming out as LGBTQI. It is as much a day of recognition and education as it is celebration, and this was felt very strongly at Los Angeles City College’s Gilbert Baker Track.
If you’re not up on your LGBTQI history, Gilbert Baker is the designer and activist who designed and created the rainbow flag in San Francisco as a positive symbol to unite the LGBTQI community. In recognition of his role, Los Angeles City College debuted a new athletics facility featuring a rainbow-colored track with his name on it.
The Gilbert Baker Estate partnered with Nike for Nike’s ongoing #BeTrue collection and the two worked with Los Angeles City College to make the track a reality. The move has received a widespread outpouring of support throughout the LGBTQI sports community as people reflected on their own experiences as athletes, coaches, spectators and supporters.
While corporations who are going rainbow have been criticized for pandering to the almighty pink dollar, Nike has been one of the few organizations to prominently sponsor and feature LGBTQI athletes in their social media and advertising. Additionally, they have contributed to the development of LGBTQI inclusion programs in high school sports and regularly contribute to LGBTQI causes.
The Inaugural Lap for the new track was on October 11th by Track and Field Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion, Kerron Clement who took part in the day’s festivities. Additionally, Clement used the event to publicly come out as a gay man.
“I have been through what a lot of people have been through which is being afraid of being who you are,” he says. “I struggled with my sexuality for 17 years. Over time, as you get older, you care less. Now it’s time to just be yourself and be free. That’s what I’ve become, free.”
The track is open to the public and for all students and faculty of Los Angeles City College, it is open Monday-Thursdays until 10pm.
By Dirk Smith