Austin Pride Run celebrates, builds community among queer runners

Ava Motes, Life and Arts Reporter

The first thing Lindsay Legé noticed about Erin Clark was her socks: a flash of rainbow in stark contrast with the gravel trails on the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Legé and Clark first met at a Saturday run hosted by Trail Roots, a local organization that connects trail runners through group events. As a queer woman, Legé recognized Clark’s attire as an indication of shared identity and quickly fell into step with Clark to compliment her socks.  

“We chatted the entire run, covering essentially every topic from being gay to our pastimes,” Clark said. “(We realized) we’re two badass queer people.”

This conversation marked the beginning of a close friendship. Legé said she always felt welcome in the overarching Trail Roots community, but she wanted to connect with more LGBTQ+ runners like Clark. As a result, she decided to collaborate with Trail Roots’ founder Erik Stanley to organize the Pride Run, which took place at Greenbelt’s Spyglass Trailhead on June 10 and attracted over 30 runners. 

“With Pride Month coming up, I felt like it would be something fun and a way to attract more queer folks to our community,” Legé said. “It’s been a pretty stressful couple of years for our community with … recent attacks on trans people and queer people in different states. I think people are feeling the weight of all that, and sometimes, just being out in nature can feel really healing.”

Clark said the Pride Run was conceptualized with the goal of creating a safe space to bond and heal — not only for Trail Roots members but for the LGBTQ+ community in the greater Austin area. 

“It was very comfortable,” Clark said. “My girlfriend came, who’s not a super big runner, and she was like, ‘This is really great. Everyone’s super friendly.’ Being a couple didn’t feel strange in this environment.”

Legé said she intended to center this pride event around nature, health and wellness. Legé and Stanley provided a safe, inclusive and laid-back environment for everyone to meet new people through a shared interest in running. 

“Out on the trail, or out on any run, you spend a lot of time with people,” Stanley said. “You talk to them (and) hear their story. Over the years, I’ve realized that was even more important than the actual running — the connection that we would make with people.”

This emphasis on building community was felt by those in attendance, especially nonmembers like UT alum Lee Rogers. Rogers said they felt instantly welcomed into this event.

“The Pride Run was a blast,” Rogers said. “My favorite thing was everyone being really present with each other. It’s amazing the connections you can make, even in a short time, when everyone comes together with the intention that we are here to embrace ourselves and one another.”