Lennie Carter is a big-time runner — and that’s an understatement. Though at 65, he’s slowed a bit (“I run about 25 miles per week, about half of what I was doing when I was much younger”), he’s completed 35 marathons and plans to run in Paris in August.
The D.C. Front Runners started a Pride race in 1981 with 27 runners. It was formally organized in 2013. The sixth annual event will be Friday, June 8 at 7 p.m. at Congressional Cemetery (1801 E St., S.E.). It’s sold out. About 1,500 runners/walkers are expected. Full details at dcfrpriderun.com.
“I love to run,” the Kingston, Ohio, native says. “I love to manage events, I’m a people person, I support LGBT causes. It feels really good to give back to the community.”
The Pride Run is considered the kick-off event to Capital Pride. The race organizers partner with LGBT organizations to provide financial support and recognition. The Washington Blade is a media sponsor for the event. Last year, proceeds of $30,000 were given to gay charities.
Carter was the volunteer coordinator three previous years and ran in years two and three. This year he’s the race co-director with Grace Thompson. He’s been on the board of D.C. Front Runners for 10 years.
Carter retired in 2015 from Georgetown University where he was former associate vice president of financial operations. He and husband Charles Divan have been together since 1997; they wed in 2013.
After 20 years in Baltimore, Carter moved to Washington in 1995. He enjoys running, genealogy, gardening and church in his free time. He’s minister of hospitality at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out on Sept. 30, 1974 at the Gay Activist Alliance at Ohio State University. It was the most liberating experience of my life. Telling my parents was the most difficult. I never actually had that talk, so we danced around it until I met my first partner in August 1975.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
There are a number of LGBT individuals I respect, but I do not have an LGBT hero.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
My husband and I only go to the D.C. Front Runners happy hours. I enjoy Town and Nellie’s.
Describe your dream wedding.
We had it — an Episcopalian Mass at St. Margaret’s. We’re Catholic, so this was the closest we could get to a Catholic ceremony. I had a sister and nephew attend but I would have liked to have had more family there. That was the only negative.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Helping people, something I learned doing with my Dad when we’d visit elderly neighbors every Sunday morning, helping them with chores and shopping trips. I have continued supporting those in need throughout my life.
What historical outcome would you change?
More programs to help people get back on their feet and more programs for the elderly.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Seeing Cher perform at the Ohio State Fair in 1974. I walked up to the stage to watch — no security.
On what do you insist?
Manners. If someone is rude, I let them know.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
It probably had something to do with family. I am a great great uncle to two nephews and a niece.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Never Stop Learning.” I was raised on a dairy farm. My parents both had eighth-grade educations, but insisted we all finish high school. I was the first in the family to get an undergraduate and graduate degree.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I am who I am. I admit that being straight would have been an easier path growing up. When I came out, adoption was not available for gay couples and I love kids. My first partner had four kids. He, his ex-wife and I worked together as parents.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
If being a Christian counts as beyond the physical world, that would be my answer. Charlie and I are devout Catholics (and yes this has created conflict). I converted to Catholicism when I was 46.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep doing what you are doing. I am often overwhelmed with the progress that has been made since I came out in 1974. I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for a physical when the Supreme Court ruling broke. I almost cried. The doctor asked why my blood pressure was so high and I explained. He said, “You mean you could not marry before?”
What would you walk across hot coals for?
If it were to save someone’s life, then the list would be quite long.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
All gay men like to wear women’s clothes, are promiscuous or are great designers.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Making Love” with Harry Hamlin.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
So much is overrated, especially social media. People need to learn boundaries.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Charlie and I won the Team D.C. Horizon Award. A close second is my first Boston Marathon medal.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
A career can wait. I would have traveled to Europe and sowed wild oats. I worked throughout college, graduated in June 1975, got a job and started a relationship in August 1975 and stayed in the relationship until 1995.
I love Washington. The city is diverse, most people are intellectually stimulating and outgoing.