Re-injured / rejected

Simply put: I thought I was over an emotional injury, but with a few recent triggerings, I think it’s safe to say I still have some lingering feelings. Marathon season and big sporting events and expos seem to re-injure this particular hurt all over again (read original post below).

At a recent race, there was an instance where I interacted with a company rep from this nutrition brand, which was painful at best (I was still kind). I’m conflicted because I’m happy for my friends; I’ve sent my friends photos of their faces in ads from email blasts to my inbox, and in magazines I subscribe to. And this isn’t about them – my friends should enjoy this, because it’s pretty cool. I would have been pumped to be picked, and I want to celebrate their good moments as well. But it’s still true, even five months after writing the post below: An overwhelming rush of sadness sweeps over me every time a teammate releases one of these photos. This is more about me not being good enough because of who I am, and trying to figure that out.

Here’s a repost from Original Plumbing about the initial hurt.

Sports Sponsorships And Someone Like Me

As an athlete who is serious about competing but also needs a real job to feed myself, I’m always looking for sponsorship opportunities and companies to support me. I’m not a pro, but sponsorship and acting as a brand ambassador for companies provides me with ways to offset my training. I work full-time and I’m not making money from being an athlete, so anything that I get from companies in terms of products or support is helpful. In the past, this has come in the form of financial support, training equipment, gear, race entries, and nutritional products.
Since coming out, I’ve been fortunate enough to find companies that have supported me as a person and as an athlete. I have not shied away from the fact that I am a trans* guy. I write about my identity on my applications, and as the founder of transathlete.com, my bio is on the website and the content itself is a pretty clear reflection of who I am and what I stand for.
I know with sponsorships that “you win some and you lose some.” That is, some companies will be a good fit and some companies will have values that do not align with mine and we won’t be a good match. In those cases, I’m pretty happy to not promote their company or their products. But usually this comes as a surprise to me; I typically don’t apply for things that I don’t think I’m a good fit for (who wants rejection?). However, I’ve been surprised a few times, although wisely, few will outright name my identity as a reason and I can’t tell why I don’t get chosen.
It’s similar to applying for a job and being a highly qualified candidate and not getting the position. It could be my identity and it could also be that someone just doesn’t like me. It could be any number of things but when I don’t know the answer, and nothing else seems really clear, I can’t help but to wonder if my identity as a trans* guy played a role in me not getting the position.
Such is the case with a recent sponsor opportunity. My triathlon club has a long-standing relationship with a large sports nutrition company, which I had been great about promoting online and at events – I’ve volunteered to work their table at expo events and posted prolifically on social media for them. About six months ago there was an opportunity to be a part of a photo shoot for their national advertising campaign for posters and print ads, and the casting company was working specifically with my triathlon club to find folks for the shoot. The requirements were to send in photos of yourself, a brief bio, and a short video introduction. I completed all of the requirements; there was a very small number of us who replied. I was excited about the opportunity for myself, but I was also excited about what it would say about the company to have a trans* guy in their marketing. It seemed like progress; it seemed like it would be a major breakthrough.
Just before the date of the shoot, I received a brief email that said they would not be able to accept me. I started to hear from my friends on the team about how happy they were that they had been accepted to be a part of the shoot. I didn’t want to steal anyone else’s opportunity to be excited about it. I was, as far as I know, the only person rejected from the photo shoot.
When I spoke to someone on the phone about it they plainly said, “You have to think, what would it say about our company to have someone like you in our ad? We just can’t have someone like you.”
I was devastated. What exactly is “someone like me?”
I was upset about it for a while. And then I let it go and found a great nutrition company who presumably read my application for sponsorship and therefore knew about my identity. I didn’t say anything else about it for a while and didn’t really tell my club about it; I felt ashamed. I also wasn’t sure if I had been speaking with the actual company or their casting agency. I didn’t want to put anybody publicly on blast by name if it wasn’t them.
Several months have passed since the photo shoot and admittedly I have thought about it a few times when applying to new things. I thought I made my peace with it until the company released the ads that my teammates are in – they are awesome. They are amazing professional photos, great quality, good imaging, and a great marketing campaign. They are online and in magazines and were on banners at the Boston Marathon. An overwhelming rush of sadness sweeps over me every time a teammate releases one of these photos (they’re being released in stages not all at once).
Rejection sucks. Rejection for who I am and who I will unapologetically continue to be sucks. But it’s a take it or leave it deal: I definitely do not want to promote a company that can’t have “someone like me” represent them.
I am a hardworking, dedicated, strong, and fast athlete. I am a fierce competitor and contender. I give back to the multisport community and devote time to helping other athletes succeed. I am a teammate, a leader, a coach, and a trans* guy.
Anyone willing to sponsor “someone like me”, please contact me.
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Aside

What took so long?

Last week, I published a blog post on Original Plumbing Online. I’ve been blogging for OP for a few years now – at times, regularly, and more recently, randomly with months between posts. I sat on this last one for over a month. Actually, longer. I had probably written it in my head 30 times in the past six months. Once it was written, it took me a month to send Amos the text (you can read it in full here and then come back to this if you want).

Why the wait?

Well… a lot of things, actually. I think I can wrap it up in a list:

1. My teammates were really pumped about their opportunities and I didn’t want to be negative about it.
2. I didn’t really know how to say it.
3. I It was upsetting and I was trying to think of the most diplomatic way of handling it. For a while, that was by not talking about it.
4. My team has a long standing relationship with this company and I wasn’t sure how team leaders would take it.
5.  didn’t want it to be true.

The experience that really prompted me to share this was the Brooks Pure Project Trunk Show at the New York Running Company. What an awesome experience – beyond the clothing being great, I really appreciated being specifically asked to be a part of it, with the people asking me knowing me and my identity. Essentially, my identity being a non-issue at that event escalated my feelings about my identity being an issue for the sports company.

Another reason I’m thinking about this – still – is that I have a few big events coming up that I’d really love support for, and I’m not sure I can get it. I’m working on my pitch. And my confidence in being worth supporting following this incident.

Someone commented on the blog post asking why I would even want to be associated with a company that was not accepting of me, and the answer is that I wouldn’t want to be – but also that I deep down want to be accepted and embraced for who I am, all of who I am, and the feeling of being rejected presumably based on my identity was upsetting. In summary, my major issue with this is that it happened at all.

I’m still uneasy about it but being upset about something I can’t change won’t help me find the Imagesupportive network I want to build around myself. So here’s the story in case you missed it, and here’s to finding new sponsors and fans who will support me as I work towards my goals this season and into the future.

 

Team X-1 Sponsorship

Want to be a member of Team X-1?? This could be your chance!
WATERPROOF, SWEATPROOF, RINSEABLE! That means rain, sweat, maybe an accidental failure to remove from pocket before washing clothes … these products will stand up to your heaviest training. In addition to great headphones that stay in place when running, there are waterproof armbands, as well as swim setups for more enjoyable laps in the pool. And they have products especially for women and people with smaller ears. They also have amazing customer service and a great guarantee on their products.
A little more about X-1:
With humble beginnings as a graduate student project in southern California, H2O Audio quickly grew to become the foremost leader in waterproof, weatherproof and sweatproof headphones, cases and accessories for aquatic athletes. With over a decade of consistent technological innovation including 7 registered patents, the original waterproof sound company has evolved to the next level as X-1, providing audio solutions for a broad spectrum of athletes across many disciplines.
Inspired by the Bell X-1, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier, the team at X-1 set out to perfect a line of products that break down the barriers of sound, allowing athletes to harness the power of music regardless of sport or climate. Whether you’re a triathlete, swimmer, runner, kayaker, snowboarder, climber, weightlifter, or a gym goer, X-1 offers audio solutions that can withstand everything from trekking through the mud to running in the rain to diving 12 feet underwater.
After a decade spent working alongside the most demanding athletes, X-1 arrived at the perfect fit solution, offering 6 styles of headphones and up to 8 ear tip sizes to ensure that products are comfortable and fit securely during rigorous activity. Don’t believe it? X-1 backs its products and patented technology with the best warranty in the business – if you ever have a problem, simply return the product and you’ll receive a new one, no questions asked.
Since it’s proven that music can significantly reduce the perception of effort and increase endurance during physical activity, X-1 empowers athletes to train and perform at their peak with music, regardless of sport and whatever Mother Nature throws at them.
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2014 TEAM X-1 APPLICATIONS WILL BE OPEN JAN 13TH – 31ST
Each quarter of 2014 we will be opening up the application process for Team X-1. The next open application period will be Monday, Jan 13th to Friday, Jan 31st.
We are looking for motivated athletes across the Running, Tri, Swimming and Watersports categories. Not all people will be accepted. There are many different factors which determine if you make the team or not. We are looking for people who are active in social media, belong to clubs, compete regularly etc. Regional considerations are also a factor.
More information will be available once the application process is open.
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So, if you are interested in joining a very cool team representing great products, go to the site on January 13 and fill out the application.  I’ve been on the team for a year and have loved the products and being a part of the X-1 family!
Links:
Big sale going on right now on the site – 30% off your entire order (except iPods)
Use CODE: “CLEANUP” at checkout (until 1/5/14 – act fast, limited time offer)