Road Of Rainbows: Pride 5K Returns To Boston

road of rainbowsRoad of Rainbows 5K Run

An All-Inclusive Athletic Event With a Mission , Road of Rainbows is Produced by and for Members of the LGBTQI+ Community

By: Audrey Cole, TRT Reporter—

BOSTON—Boston Theater Company’s fourth annual Road of Rainbows (RoR) Pride 5K kicks off on Saturday, June 8 at 10:00 a.m.—before the Pride parade steps off—according to event organizers.

A blend of arts and athletics, the race is an all-inclusive celebration at Boston Common and will occur before the Pride Parade.

“All athletic events can and should be welcoming of all,” said Joey Frangieh, Co-producer of the 5K. “We hope the Road of Rainbows can be an example of how athletics can be inclusive! Before we announced the Road of Rainbows, we sat down with a group of counselors who worked hard to create an athletic event where _all_ folks can be welcomed. While we are continuously evaluating our event many of the original ideas still remain—including being completely gender neutral.”

According to Frangieh, gender neutrality is not common practice at sporting events but one the organization remains committed to.

“We have no gendered sign ups or gender separation (including no gendered awards),” he said. “While this is very rare for athletics, and we believe now more than ever—gender neutral athletic events are incredibly important.” 

The event is also committed to ensure that personal finances are not a factor that hinders an athlete from participating.

“Our tickets are tiered and range from $0 through $50, the process to reserve is based on the honor system, but, perhaps most importantly, we have no VIP or differentiation between our sliding scale tickets,” Frangieh explained.

Gathering participants of all backgrounds, a three-lap run around Boston Common will begin and end with a festival at Brewer Fountain, the event’s new home within Boston Common,” read a press release from event organizers.

Along with Frangieh, Road of Rainbows is also co-produced by David J. Castillo. They explained the importance of an all inclusive 5K, where queer participants are overwhelmingly welcome.

“We believe that every athletic event in Boston should be fully accessible for and inclusive of anyone who’d like to participate in them,” Castillo said. “One’s sexual orientation and gender expression should never be a roadblock in competition or friendly exercise. Road of Rainbows is merely a representation of that belief.”

Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the only factors that the Road of Rainbow organizers considered while putting together the all-inclusive event.

“Whether you pay $0 or $50 all our tickets are equal, and we’re proud that over half of our registered runners receive free or discounted tickets,” Frangieh said. “Also, RoR has ASL interpreters throughout the entire event, it takes place in an ADA accessible location and allows service animals throughout. RoR is also accessible to multiple athletic abilities, we give individuals the option to be timed (or not), folks have the option to do 3 laps or just one, and we do not give awards based on time or skill. We’re on a mission to prove that athletics can and should be inclusive.”

This year’s Grand Marshall is Lilly Rose Valore.

“[She] is an incredible performer and all-around creative whose life and work is intricately linked with the experience of what it means to be a queer person living and growing in the city of Boston,” said Castillo on the selection of Lily Rose Valore. “I know that because Lilly and I went to high school together at Boston Arts Academy over a decade ago. I have seen firsthand how this woman has grown into herself and used her craft to carve a place not just for herself here, but for others as well.”

Perhaps, equally important is the dire necessity to uplift the voices that are most at peril within the LGBTQI+ community. 

“Besides her individual success as a drag artist in this community, it was important to us that Lilly be our Grand Marshall because we are currently living in a time when the comfort, safety, and rights of trans people are at risk,” they said. “As someone who believes that none of us are free until we are all free, it is important, now more than ever, that we platform and amplify those voices.”

As reflected in the history of the Boston Theater Company and looking ahead, the focus on supporting the LGBTQI+ community extends far past June, Frangieh said.

“RoR came to be when we were working on our documentary play ‘The Gay Agenda’ interviewing many LGBTQ+ folks,” he said. “We had also just finished our play ‘Finish Line,’ which entailed interviewing many local athletes. The intersection of these two worlds and the non-inclusive nature of athletics was hitting home for many of us personally, as well as many of our teammates. RoR was really born out of a need to create a space where all can feel welcomed!”

The beneficiary of Road of Rainbows is Queer Voices, a ten-minute festival produced by Boston Theater Company, the same producing entity behind Road of Rainbows, explained Castillo.

“It is a festival that showcases works by contemporary queer playwrights, which usually translates into work for local queer actors and directors,” said Castillo. “What better way to give back to the queer members of our community than to put money in their pockets? Boston is full of queer talent deserving of opportunities not just during pride month. Queer Voices gives us a chance to provide those opportunities.”

Producing a fully-inclusive athletic event comes at a financial cost, however.

“Road of Rainbows typically loses money—as we have a commitment to making RoR financially inclusive—over half our tickets are free or discounted. Last year, for the first time, we had some extra funds left over. As a nonprofit, our finances are transparent and we’ve always said if any funds ever remain that they would go to further support the LGBTQ+ community—and Queer Voices feels like a natural fit!”

RoR will take place on Saturday, June 8th at Brewer Fountain within Boston Common.

To get involved, participate, volunteer, support or follow Road of Rainbows on Instagram at @theroadofrainbows or @bostontheaterco. Visit them online at bostontheater.org.

“We’re very easy to reach (smiles),” Castillo added.

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