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Around the World with Jeff Werner

I'm proud to announce that this month I am finally profiling a Frontrunner club outside of Europe and North America. I present you Delhi Frontrunners. The story of Delhi Frontrunners is an inspiring one, one that shows that an individual can make a difference. Indeed, it is stories like that of Delhi Frontrunners that inspired me to write this column in the first place - to remind fellow club members that we are not only members of Frontrunners New York, but also part of a larger Frontrunner community. As discussed below, members of Delhi Frontrunners are running the Delhi Half Marathon in November 2008. They are running to raising visibility and money for LGBT rights in India. Please contact frontdel@gmail.com if you want to donate money to help the cause. FRNY: When and by whom was your club founded? DFR: The idea of Delhi FrontRunners (DFR) was conceived in the second half of 2006, it got going a year later, in the second half of 2007. [ed. The club's founder asked that his real name not be used and that he instead be referred to as "Queer Buddha")]. The DFR was founded by Queer Buddha sometime in the second half of 2006, in August. He posted email announcements about it on a couple of list serves subscribed to by LGBT persons. It didn't catch the interest or attention of many. By the end of that year he gave up. Around mid 2007, he tried again - with a change of venue. This was again in August. It subsequently picked up. FRNY: What were the circumstances under which it was founded? DFR: "Queer Buddha" founded DFR to make something meaningful of his experience of the 1st World Outgames in Montreal in 2006. Here is the story in his own words: I was invited to present a paper at the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, 1st World Outgames, Montreal, Canada, 26 - 29 July 2006. Well before the conference, while I was still in Delhi, my friend and former teacher Robert [Wintemute] asked me if in addition to the conference I would like to participate in the games. A casual question that made me somewhat uncomfortable. It reminded me of my difficult relationship with sports, and brought back unpleasant childhood memories - of being mocked and slighted. I made excuses and tried to avoid Robert but finally succumbed to his enthusiasm. I registered - tentatively, I should say - for the shortest possible event, 100 meters race. I had every intention to dodge the games and party in the gay village instead. Until a very determined Robert got hold of me on the last day of the conference and took me to the sports accreditation centre. He stood with me in long lines and waited, and made sure I got my accreditation done. Sigh! There was no escape. My event was scheduled for the 1st of August. I got there at eight in the morning. Robert was there. He helped me do the warm up. He even coached me a little in the little time there was. When I was making my way to the starting point, I heard people cheering for other athletes. I had a sinking feeling. Who would cheer for me? I should just be thankful if no one mocks me. Then I heard Robert's voice, Go India! He had an India placard in one hand and the Indian flag in the other, and he was waving both with much joy. That did it. I walked head-up and felt proud to be representing India. I ran the race in 14.89 seconds. Out of 12 preliminary participants in my age category, I was 10th. I did not make it to the finals. I was victorious nonetheless. It sounds clich├ęd but it's true. In the end my position in the race did not matter. What mattered was that I gave it my best. That I confronted mocking ghosts from the past. That I stood up. I survived. I ran. I won. P.S.: Later I determined to keep the spirit alive. At the Outgames I saw many runners from different FrontRunner groups across the world. I determined to start Delhi FrontRunners by the end of that year. And I did. FRNY: How many members do you have? How many active members do you have? DFR: As of today, 9 Oct 2008 there are 47 email addresses on the DFR egroup. In addition to the egroup, the DFR posts week This article was published on The Next Mile (November 2008 Volume XXV Issue 11) - The Newsletter of Front Runners New York

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