Openly-gay Dartmouth athlete Philip Claudy is running the September 25 Ironman Triathlon in Chattanooga, Tennessee to help raise money for OneOrlando, the fund assisting the victims and survivors of the June 12 Orlando shooting.
“The Orlando shooting served as an important reminder for me to continue living fully as who I am – to keep embracing myself and pushing for progress,”Claudy said on his crowdfunding page. “It made urgent the need for support. It motivated me to take action,”
In his November 2015 column for the LGBT site Outsports.com, Claudy wrote, “I grew up believing that my sexuality was an illness, a sickness that put me at risk of a lonely and immoral life.” He added, “[My sexuality was] something that I buried deep within myself, something that I was determined I would not let ruin my happy life, my athletic aspirations, or my professional ambitions.”
Though he originally attended Dartmouth as a member of the rowing team, he soon fell into a depression (partly from denying his sexuality) and took up running as a way to battle his hopelessness. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of moderate running twice a week can significantly reduce depression and its symptoms.
In the winter, I picked up running as a hobby and immediately fell in love, not only for the physical benefits, but for the mental benefits as well. Running provided an outlet that allowed me to overcome my depression and to remedy my dissatisfaction with my sexuality. As my love for running grew, so did my love for myself. I became happier with who I really was, who I had hidden for so many years.
Last year, he ran the Philadelphia marathon to raise funds for the Trevor Project, the LGBT suicide hotline.
You can donate to Claudy if you want to help his cause. You should also know that the Chattanooga Ironman Triathlon involves a 2.4-mile swim in the Tennessee River, a 116 mile bike course through farmlands and a 26.2-mile run through downtown Chattanooga, Riverview and the North Shore.
While you consider the athleticism and endurance required for that, let’s enjoy some pics of Claudy…
Growing up, I learned to associate my sexuality with inferiority and shame. During my freshman year of college, I fell into a debilitating and life-threatening depression as I struggled to come to terms with my sexuality. I sought out running as way to cope with my sexuality and overcome my battle with my depression. From that experience, I learned how important it was to embrace my identity and live free of the fears that resulted in my depression. The recent Orlando shooting at the Pulse Nightclub drew on fear and hatred as a means to quiet those who also committed to live their lives without fear of discrimination – to embrace every aspect of themselves fully and not succumb to stigma and stereotypes. The Orlando shooting served as an important reminder for me to continue living fully as who I am – to keep embracing myself and pushing for progress. It made urgent the need for support. It motivated me to take action. This fall, I am competing in the Chattanooga Ironman triathlon and raising money for OneOrlando, an organization committed to helping the victims and community of Orlando rebuild after the recent tragedy. OneOrlando aims to restore the spirit of Orlando – to reestablish the community as a safe space, and to assist the families and individuals who are still coping. The Chattanooga Ironman continues not only my personal journey, but also the LGBT community’s journey towards equality and acceptance. I hope that, with the efforts of OneOrlando, the LGBT community will not just recover, but be strengthened by the support and continue pushing towards equality. Please consider supporting my fundraising campaign: www.gofund.me/philipclaudy