June is the month of Pride. It’s a time when the LGBT community reflects and celebrates its citizens.
This Pride, two Midwest track and field athletes have been captivating the nation and the world with their love story that began in the fall of 2014.
The University of Minnesota’s Brad Neumann and Justin Rabon began dating in November of that year, but it wasn’t until last week, the two opened up about "coming out."
“I was pretty much over lying to myself.”
That’s what Justin told KARE 11’s Zachery Lashway.
“I was struggling hardcore," said the Milwaukee native, then a track star at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
But Justin had a friend, Brad Neumann, a Peshtago, Wisconsin native who ran for the University of Minnesota. One evening in November 2014, when things got "very difficult," Justin texted Brad in Minnesota.
Justin said, “I told him, ran away from my phone, came back and looked at it and he was like, ‘Oh, OK. That’s fine. No biggie. We can still be friends.’”
Just like that, the lies stopped. The weight – lifted.
“And I was like, ‘What? How is that – is that actually possible?’” Justin said.
Justin’s secret was out. But Brad’s was not.
“I was like, 'Should I come out to him, too?” Brad said.
Twenty-four hours later, Brad did.
“So obviously the friendship ended really quick and the relationship formed super quickly,” laughed Justin.
Over the last three years, the two have supported one another on the field and at home. Fortunately, their Gophers teammates accepted them, as did their families.
Justin said, “My mom was like, ‘You’ve already had it hard enough as it is, as a black man in America, and now you’re a gay black man in America.’”
But according to Justin, “Once we did come out we were able to be ourselves. Our friendships flourished. Our relationship flourished, and everything genuinely got better, as far as life goes.”
Since their love story was published on Outsports.com, the two say they’ve been receiving messages from folks all around the world.
Brad says parents of children who are LGBT have been reaching out, people who once were "antagonists" have apologized, and those who are LGBT have been thankful for the inspiration and advice.
“My hope for this would be to just normalize the orientations," Justin said. "I don’t understand why they are a big deal. If it doesn’t affect you personally, then why do you care?”
© 2017 KARE-TV