Outsports continues its feature, Out in the World: Diving into our deep archive of Coming Out stories and updating the stories of out athletes, coaches and other sports personnel who continue to prove, everyday, that Courage Is Contagious.
All of us are looking forward to reclaiming some semblance of the lives we led before the pandemic. For Hayden Reidy, that occasionally involves a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a marathon. On the same day.
It was just before the 2017 Syracuse Ironman Triathlon that Reidy came out to one of his fellow competitors in casual conversation. That moment marked a turning point in his decision to be open about who he was as a gay man.
This not only made him happier as a person, it helped him become a better athlete. Looking back three years later, Reidy realized, “I felt like before, I wasn’t able to perform at a level that I wanted to because I felt like I was hiding something. And I felt like I wasn’t able to get there completely until I was completely open and honest with myself.”
Growing up and going to school in the small upstate New York town of Plattsburgh made that process complicated at times but Reidy eventually made it. Currently living in Washington DC and working as a leasing consultant, he discovered what a difference finding a community can make:
“You really start to understand that there are so many people like you. And that each one of them that is like you comes from a different background. Most of my friends that are part of the LGBTQ community come from small towns, they come from rural areas, they come from very, very religious or conservative families. There’s a greater sense of community because you all share something. You’re coming from a background where you felt like you couldn’t be yourself.”
Reidy found a home in that community because “Whether you talk about it or not, you understand why they think the way they think.”
After taking a break from running to study abroad in France in 2018, he also resumed racing last year. His personal highlight was September 2019’s Ironman Chattanooga which marked the first event Reidy got to run with his mother.
On a day where the temperature hit 105, Reidy described his race experience: “I had a fantastic swim. I was very happy. I had a fantastic bike ride. Very happy with that. And then I... died. I had a full marathon to do and I just crashed. But I didn’t quit! I made it through. It was miserable but finishing that, I was very happy.”
The extreme heat made the race almost unbearable and the act of finishing miraculous. Understandably, Reidy needed to take some time to recover.
Four weeks later, he ran the New York City marathon.
In 2020, Reidy’s racing career is understandably on hold. His fingers are crossed that next year, the pandemic will lift in time for Ironman Lake Placid — an event in the Adirondack Mountains close to his hometown.
Now that he’s fully embraced being who he is, it would make racing in front of family and friends all the sweeter.
Outsports welcomes suggestions for our Out In the World series. Who would you like to hear from again? Also, please reach out if you yourself would like to update us on what you’ve been doing since coming out in Outsports.
Check out our archive of coming out stories.
If you are an out LGBTQ person in sports and want to tell your story, email Jim (email@example.com)
If you’re an LGBTQ person in sports looking to connect with others in the community, head over to GO! Space to meet and interact with other LGBTQ athletes, or to Equality Coaching Alliance to find other coaches, administrators and other non-athletes in sports.