During this year’s Pride Month, a number of events are being held across the UK to celebrate the achievements of those who come under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Among those is the world of motorsport. That’s where Racing Pride comes in. Launched at the start of this month, the initiative aims to positively promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the motorsport industry, from the drivers themselves to technological and commercial partners. A driving force in the race for LGBTQ+ representation in motorsport on every level.
A number of ambassadors supported the initiative, including Charlie Martin (Stonewall Sports Champion and transgender driver competing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup), Sarah Moore (lesbian driver competing in the new W Series), Richard Morris (gay driver racing for Spire Sports Cars in the British RGB Sports 1000 Championship) and Nick Reeve (gay driver and 2018 Clio Cup competitor). These ambassadors together with Stonewall supporters and several LGBTQ+ media organisations have been focusing on motorsport.
The scheme is the first one of its kind, demonstrating that those in the community should not be afraid to be out and proud in such industries. Shortly after publicly coming out last year, Racing Pride ambassador Charlie Martin took it upon herself to spread awareness in the sport simply by handing out 130 Pride stickers to drivers at Silverstone in Pride Month last year at the British GT. A small gesture some might say but with a big impact.
Racing Pride is the next step in raising awareness of LGBTQ+ people in the motorsport industry, on and off the track. Christopher Sharp, Shout Out UK’s Sport and Society correspondent but also one of the co-founders of Racing Pride, had this to say:
‘Racing Pride has been a long time in the making. It is an issue that has not been given the required exposure, much like the topic of inclusivity of motorsport in general, really. We, along with Invictus (who run a team in the British GT Championship) and W Series are aiming to promote inclusivity.
Now, the criticism we’ve had from a few people is that, ‘It’s not an issue!’. Well the thing is, nothing ever is an issue until you point it out; just look at sexual harassment in Hollywood. If you’d asked, ‘Is it a problem?’ twenty years ago you would have barely heard a ripple of replies, barely anything. Things are different nowadays because of a brave few who raised their head above the parapets and bravely said, ‘Yes, there is a problem’. Racing Pride is that organisation that [is] leading the charge over the metaphorical parapet.
Fortunately, because the bulk of motorsport is generally accepting, see Roberta Cowell and Archie Scott Brown (disabled 1950s racing driver), the criticism and negative responses have been surprisingly low. Still, we are going to push on and maintain the momentum […] The very fact that both examples I have given come from the 1950s, shows that motorsport has not always upheld inclusivity and at times has been moving in reverse’.
It is now out of neutral and we’re putting it back in drive’.
Meanwhile, Racing Pride’s other co-founder, Richard Morris, had this to say about the initiative:
‘Ultimately, Racing Pride is all about bringing people together through the platform which motorsport provides to create a positive change in attitudes. It is about harnessing the power of the collective, including the crucial role of visible allies alongside LGBTQ+ role-models, to promote acceptance and an inclusive environment both within the sport and, through it, in society more broadly. We’re thrilled by the amount of support we have been shown already from across motorsport, and beyond, but we know that there is a long way to go (and that a lot more help will be needed) if we are to achieve our aims’.
The scheme is another step towards driving forward change in the world of sport more widely. While the world of motorsport is generally accepting of those in the minority, the aim of the campaign is to enable people in the sport who have perhaps not been out as LGBTQ+ to the public, to feel more comfortable in sharing their story. This is certainly something that should be transferred to other sports that are not well represented when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. If it can work here, it can work anywhere in any sport.
Racing Pride is on track to make a real difference in the world of motorsport and maybe, just maybe, it will set the ball rolling with similar schemes in other sports. While it is not important to shout to the world that motorsport has people who are LGBTQ+, it is important to acknowledge that they do exist and recognise their achievements and struggles. That’s what Racing Pride is doing. Let’s hope other sports follow suit.
I agree with my good friend and Clio Cup driver, Max Coates, when he said:
‘More people racing is always a good thing. To me it doesn’t matter about gender, sexuality, nationality, everyone is a competitor on track.’
And that’s what inclusivity and diversity are about.