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Runner knows ‘we must practice social connection’ as we physically distance

Coronavirus impact: Nicholas Turco says it’s most important to help those who feel marginalized.

Nicholas Turco is a runner and student at the University of Colorado.

Outsports is asking LGBTQ people in sports how they are impacted by the coronavirus crisis and its effects on all aspects of daily life. Today: Runner Nicholas Turco. He identifies as gay.

As I was social distancing recently and scrolling through Instagram, I came across a post that made me very sad. I believe it may give us some insight into how we are called to act during these times.

The post came from a gay person struggling with loneliness during this period of isolation. This person said that the loneliness led them to feel the exclusion of a family member more harshly. This impacted me personally because I have experienced times where loneliness and isolation were almost crippling.

However, what hit me the most was reading about someone not receiving love from people who matter the most because of their sexual orientation. I have been blessed to never had to struggle with this with my immediate family. So as I write this, I do so with humility.

This makes me think that sometimes we have to move forward loving ourselves and let those around us and the world catch up.

It also makes me think that during these times we must come together in many forms of the communities that are having extra struggles with mandated distancing. Often, those who are on the edges of society, are marginalized and already fight to belong, may feel alone and ostracized more than ever.

I would like to offer a shift in our language to catalyze a key way of thinking. I believe that we would all do well to remember that we must practice physical distancing to save lives. But we must also practice social connection to do the same.

I just read a letter from the Alternate Defense Counsel, where I am a research assistant, and other agencies urging Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Chief Justice Nathan Coats of the Colorado Supreme Court to safely decrease the number of people in Colorado jails because of the crowded and unsanitary nature of these facilities. This struck me because it shows how those who have less privilege are faring worse right now. If we have privilege, we must use it to make the lives of those who don’t a little easier during the pandemic.

As an athlete, I realize how much I live for every workout where I get to see the bright faces and hear the chiming laughter of my teammates. I miss the anticipation and stakes of the next race. I miss the shenanigans on trips with my teammates, where would do things like pile up the fruit we have in our hotel as a competition.

I also realize how much I live for the soft crunch of my feet over wooded trails. For the open expanse of mountains and rolling hills that surround me. For the warmth of the sun as the snow retreats to reveal the soft dirt undulating underneath. These things I am still enjoying. As a silver lining, the Earth may breathe and rest, and hopefully, we can too.

Just like the Earth, we can use our beauty and our talents to inspire and heal others who are in pain.

Nicholas Turco is an undergraduate student in the School of Arts and Sciences in the Political Science Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a research assistant at Colorado’s Office of The Alternate Defense Counsel with future goals of studying neuroscience and law at Stanford Law School. He runs with Kathy Butler and (@runboulderac) and also hopes to run competitively in the marathon. He can be reached by email at (nicholasturco@gmail.com) or on Instagram (@turco_nicholas).

Read Nicholas’ coming out story.

If you are an out LGBTQ person in sports and want to tell us how the coronavirus crisis has affected your life, email Jim Buzinski (kandreeky@gmail.com).