Massachusetts’ first ever LGBTQ+ 5K race Road of Rainbows strives to focus on inclusivity through athletics


“Boston Common, Boston” by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Cathy Ching, news correspondent

On Halloween, Boston Common will once again be swarmed with runners, supporters and performers — this time, dressed up in costumes. This is the first year of Road of Rainbows, Massachusetts’ first ever LGBTQ+ 5K road race, introduced by the Boston Theater Company and the Artistic Athletic Association, or AAA. 

Participants in Road of Rainbows will run three laps around Boston Common to raise awareness for injustices in the queer community and break down the barrier between the arts and sports world.

Although the arts and athletics industries may seem worlds apart, they are not all that different. The AAA strives to break down the stereotypes between these two industries because artists and athletes share the same core values: teamwork, dedication and commitment. 

Joey Frangieh, the founding artistic director of the Boston Theater Company, launched the AAA after he ran the Boston Marathon in 2017. He realized that many athletic events are not inclusive of ability, gender and expression. Frangieh then came up with the idea of Road of Rainbows for the same purpose of inclusivity but also aspired to focus on inclusivity between the LGBTQ+ community and athletic events.

“Finding community is really important,” Frangieh said. “It’s important to remember that while a lot of times it is isolating and you may feel alone, no one’s alone within their feelings. There are quite literally millions and millions of people who are in the same boat as anybody who feels that way.”

Road of Rainbows welcomes people of all backgrounds — queer or not. When creating this event, Frangieh aimed to break down many barriers that make many athletic events exclusive and discriminatory. To help ensure that Road of Rainbows is an inclusive event, there are five appointed counselors that oversee the decision-making of the registration and location of the race.

For example, when filling out the form to register for a spot in Road of Rainbows, athletes do not have to specify their sex — the traditional “male” and “female” boxes are not found on the registration form. This invites all non-binary people who otherwise would not feel comfortable participating in a race that requires the athletes to specify their sex. 

Frangieh chose Boston Common to be the location of the race because it is easily accessible by public transportation as well as accessible for athletes with disabilities who wish to participate in a quick race around the park. 

Although the Road of Rainbows is an athletic event, Frangieh is using this opportunity to bring light to the injustices happening in and around the LGBTQ+ community and emphasize on how the Boston Theater Company is using art to stay active in their social responsibility.

“With our art, we have an opportunity to tell those stories and shed light, highlight and showcase the struggles that a lot of queer folks go through, especially queer folks who weren’t born here or have parents who weren’t born here,” Frangieh said. “Spreading awareness for the arts in a unique way is more important than ever.”

A Boston native and a 2012 Northeastern graduate, Frangieh has seen Boston grow into what it is today and could not think of a better place to hold this event other than the lively city itself.

“Boston is such an amazing city,” Frangieh said. “It’s a huge theatre and art scene, and it’s a huge athletic scene and we’re excited to melt the two industries together.”

Road of Rainbows is set to be an event to help the queer community in Boston feel included in athletic events, but it is also a day to have fun. The race is three laps around Boston Common, but participants may walk or leave at any time if they wish. Athletes will also be dressed up in Halloween costumes, which are not mandatory either.

The event will be hosted by Mizery McRae, a drag queen who goes by her stage name “Mizery,” and Kennedy Elsey, a comedian and co-host of Karson & Kennedy Podcast. There will be American Sign Language interpreters at the event.

“After a year and a half of not really being able to see people, it will be nice to feel included, to feel safe and just have a fun outdoor event,” Frangieh said.

Queer or not, runner or not, Road of Rainbows invites all people in the Greater Boston area to highlight the fun, unique and expressive group that is the LGBTQ+ community. Like everyone in the queer community, Road of Rainbows is a one-of-a-kind event.

“We are not a monolith. We are all different. We come from different places. We have different identities — different abilities,” Frangieh said. “That’s what makes us a really resilient community.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated (2:30), (10/28) to accurately reflect that Frangieh did not specify his own personal hardships.