Brad Neumann and Justin Rabon, two runners on the University of Minnesota track team, are a proud couple in love.
Each competitor recently penned his coming-out story for Outsports in honor of Gay Pride Month, both to help those who may be having their own struggles coming out, and to shatter stereotypes of what a gay person may look like.
USA Today reports on their journey:
Neumann and Rabon’s love story started in late 2014. It was Thanksgiving time, and both athletes were down in the dumps emotionally. Rabon, who hails from Milwaukee and was running at the University of Wisconsin at the time, texted Neumann, a friend who he had run against in high school and beat in the 200-meter state title due to a false start. Never fully confronting his sexuality before, Rabon eventually told Neumann he was gay. The response from his seemingly straight friend? “Oh, that’s cool.” Shortly thereafter, Neumann told Rabon he was gay, too. Likewise, he had never told anybody his secret before, mostly due to growing up in the small rural farm town of Peshtigo, Wis., where being gay would’ve potentially cast him out as a leper.
“After we came out to each other, we finally had someone to relate to,” Rabon said. “That changed everything.”
Rabon eventually transferred from Wisconsin to Minnesota to be close to Neumann, who took a bit longer to come out to friends and family.
Yet, he said, that acceptance of himself “allowed me to have an open conversation with my teammates, who I knew were conservative or didn’t necessarily believe in gay rights.”
“And now,” he continued, “when they go around to the next person who doesn’t believe someone who is LGBT should have the same rights, they’ll say, ‘Actually, I know Justin and Brad.’ It’s about changing minds like that.”
“It’s so important to get to know all types of people,” echoed Rabon. “You can’t generalize one person. That’s how bigoted people are. They’ll group one extreme into an entire group of people and don’t form an actual opinion. That’s what forms the horrible homophobic, sexist and racist thoughts. In my life, I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘You’re my first black friend.’ It blows my mind, but just knowing someone who is a gay black guy can break down those stereotypes.”
Read Rabon’s coming out story here:
Read Neumann’s coming out story here: