Monday, February 1, 2016

Integration

by Sue Aquila

I am a mom, entrepreneur, wife, long course triathlete and a gay woman. This past year, I accomplished what I once considered the impossible and married the woman of my dreams after a 17 year committed relationship. I also finished the triathlon season as the best performing woman in my age group in the world.

This is not a coincidence.

Our marriage was the final step of integration in what I always thought would remain a fragmented life. Unfortunately for many of us who are gay, lying becomes a way of life. An energy draining corruption that permeates every facet of our life. If we choose not to lie, we risk the alienation of integral parts or our identity: family, faith, employment and friendships. I have experienced each of those losses.

Why this reflection? Michael Sam. He stood up, risking his professional sports career, and chose to integrate his life. It is for him the only way he can achieve his dreams as a man and an athlete. Regardless of the financial implications, he made the most peaceful choice.

I hope in time that this young man finds that like me, integrating my life provided me with the energy and opportunity to exceed my personal and athletic dreams.

Triathlon has been a great gift in my life. When I announced my marriage last year on the way to Kona, the outpouring of support was incredible from pros and amateurs alike. Thanks to everyone for the offered celebratory Mai Tais, consumed post-race naturally.

Our sport is full of great role models. Unfortunately, triathlon lacks integration. I know of only one openly gay pro triathlete and no openly gay coaches beyond myself. As the mother of a strong biracial woman, we lack black role models. As a woman, we continue to be underrepresented in our triathlons.

I do know that a young giant has nudged the world just a bit closer towards integration. I am grateful to Michael Sam and all who have chosen to integrate their lives.

Michael Sam inspired me to be greater, to be faster and to love fearlessly.


Sue started her triathlon journey with a 50 pound weight loss and continues as a multiple Kona qualifier. In 2013, she was named the Overall Ironman All World Athlete Champion in her age group and in 2014 won her age group at Ironman Texas. As a successful entrepreneur, she believes that, “You can run your business like your training and your training like your business!” As a coach (USAT Certified), she helps athletes to develop success in all areas of their lives: family, health and work. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can find her on Twitter @fewoman.
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