3 min

His clock’s a stopwatch

Runner dashes for Montreal, Chicago

BREAKNECK MOUNTAIN. Bryan Gloyd didn't come out until age 40, and didn't take up running until his 50s. Credit: DAVID WIGHTON

There is a happy ending to Brokeback Mountain — Bryan Gloyd is the proof.

Before coming out at age 40, Gloyd was running a pig and crop farm in southwestern Ontario, married with three children and wrestling to keep his attraction for men under his John Deere hat.

Now he’s living pretty happily ever after in London, Ontario, with his partner of seven years, David; playing piano at annual gay bowling league banquets (despite having two fingers lopped off in a combining accident); and working as a top salesman for a multi-national livestock feed company.

“I like talking to farmers,” says Gloyd. “They’re honest, grounded people and some of them are downright hot.”

You’d think achieving what Jack and Ennis could only dream of would be enough challenge for one lifetime, but here’s Gloyd, now 56, getting ready to compete in the upcoming Gay Games in Chicago and the Outgames in Montreal — and in a sport he’s never tried before.

When he first heard about the Gay Games from a friend who competed in Sydney, Australia in 2002, he was immediately intrigued.

“She said, ‘You’ve got to go,’ and I said, ‘Right, I’m not a sports guy,’ and she said, ‘Well, you’ve got four years to train and you’ll never forget walking into that stadium representing your country and hearing the cheers.’ That kind of hooked me.”

On New Year’s Eve 2003, he went on-line to register for the 10-kilometre road race in the Gay Games in Chicago. Then, when he heard about the Outgames in Montreal, he signed up for that one, too. “If I’m doing one,” he says, “I might as well do two.”

He enrolled in a learn-to-run course with a local running shoe store, then a five-kilometre clinic. He’s since completed three 10-kilometre clinics and a number of races, losing 20 pounds and lowering his blood pressure in the process. He tried to organize a Team London group, but it attracted only a few members so he joined up with Team Toronto. (Unlike the Olympics, Gay Games and Outgames athletes organize in city teams rather than national teams, to deemphasize nationalism and promote global cooperation.)

At both games, Gloyd’s gunning for a personal best — completing 10 kilometres in less than 50 minutes. But more than that, he’s fallen in love with running.

“It’s easy, costs next to nothing, you meet people as crazy about the sport as you are and you get food at the end of each race. What more could you want?” Well, there’s also the mental high that comes with pushing mind and body to work together. Says Gloyd: “I really love the philosophical bent. It’s like your mind is a passenger in your body when you hit the zone. It’s such a feeling of well-being.”

The sport has also given him a little of what Jack may have found competing in small-town rodeos: self-esteem, confidence.

Growing up in a religious farm family in Selkirk in southwestern Ontario made it tough for Gloyd to accept his attraction for men.

“When I came out, I felt I let everyone down. For me, self-worth is always an issue. Of course, all my Baptist teachings came into play.

“[My wife and I] were the model Baptist family, which made it extremely difficult for me to come out. It’s hard to back up when you’re that far down the road.”

Watching Brokeback Mountain brought memories of his own monumental life shift rushing back.”I was numb for a week after seeing that movie,” says Gloyd, who looks like he could be Heath Ledger’s older brother. “I saw so much of myself in both characters — Ennis, who just couldn’t get it out while Jack was saying, ‘Look, let’s just go for it.'”

Gloyd finally decided to go for it, his resolve steeled after his sister was killed in a car accident. “I didn’t want to get to be 60 and say, I helped everyone else out, but I didn’t really get to live my life.”

He’s looking forward to competing in the two games as a way of expanding his connections with other gay and lesbian people and meeting people from other parts of the world to trade stories. “What’s their culture like? What’s going on with them? I want to make a few friends I can stay in touch with by e-mail.

“At my age, the clock’s running. Guys a lot younger than me have had heart attacks. I want to be out there, not in front of a TV. Running has really gotten me into the outdoor world and it’s made me a lot more social and confident.

“I want to taste as much life as I can.”