Our rides: Racing Pride expands to North America
Motor racing isn’t exactly the “last frontier” when it comes to bringing its athletes closer to the LGBTQ community.
Recently, there has been news of some racing drivers and other motorsport athletes who have come out as LGBTQ. This news has brought us to the point where there is now a place where everyone can support each other. Not just professional racing athletes, but all of us.
This led to the formation of an organization called Racing Pride. Earlier this year, the organization announced that it had expanded to North America. As part of this expansion, Racing Pride organizers also announced a roster of ambassadors and partners to help promote and build community in the United States and Canada.
Racing Pride started in the UK in 2019 “to create visible role models and support for the [LGBTQ] community within the sport, as well as to provide education around the alliance,” according to their website. The organization has grown to include key partners, such as Aston Martin Formula 1 team Cognizant.
“I am extremely thrilled that Racing Pride has been able to launch in North America,” says Dr. Richard Morris, Co-Founder and Director of Partner Relations at Racing Pride. “We have a wonderful group of ambassadors spanning NASCAR, drift, drag and road racing, as well as brilliant and enthusiastic partners, and so far the reception has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I don’t underestimate the scale of the work that needs to be done if we are to have the impact that we want,” Morris continues, “but I hope this launch and the actions we will take this year and beyond inspire members of the [LGBTQ] community in North America to believe that they can and do belong in motorsport.
With its expansion into North America, Racing Pride has added similar organizations, such as Athlete Ally and You Can Play to their list of partners. Both organizations perform a similar function by connecting LGBTQ athletes in professional and amateur sports to the community.
Other global partners include FCPEuro, Gridlife, British Racing & Sports Car Club, 750 Club, British Automobile Racing Club, Out Motorsports, Brooklands Museum, British Universities Karting Championship, Sports Media LGBT+, Formula Student, Navigate Partners and Vroom Media.
This organization already has a field of ambassadors in North America representing various forms of motorsport. In North America, these ambassadors include NHRA racer Travis Shumake, touring car racer Tom O’Gorman, NASCAR racer Devon Rouse, ARCA racer Zach Herrin, and stuntman/drift racer Zandara Kennedy.
In the UK, Racing Pride have already taken part in several shows and events, where their ambassadors have spoken or made appearances on behalf of the organisation.
“I thought I was the only gay racing driver,” says Shumake, “and now I know there are a lot more. And I know there’s the opportunity to create space for other riders to be comfortable, or either join the sport, or be more comfortable being themselves and being authentic .
Shumake continues, “But it’s definitely been a tenfold increase for me in the last year of at least knowledge. And, I think that’s what’s so important about representation, is having a platform and a voice like we get with Racing Pride to let people see us as a band, not only as a one-time anomaly in our particular sport.
For the other Racing Pride ambassadors, this is an opportunity to become beacons for our community on many platforms. “Being a Racing Pride ambassador is huge,” says O’Gorman. “I started running before I came out. Running has been an essential piece of the puzzle in becoming who I am, and there’s no way I’m the only one with that experience.
O’Gorman continues: “If I can be a point of reference for anyone else to feel as empowered and safe as I do in motorsport – or any less traditional LGBTQ+ industry/community, for that matter – so I paid for it and did my job. I’ve wanted to do something like this for many years now, but I never knew how to make an impact by doing it myself. Having an organization like Racing Pride, and as a by-product their partners etc to help amplify the impact we can have is very exciting.
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Racing Pride here in the States. If you’re a motor racing fan, go support these athletes! Follow their social media channels. You might want to see them in action on the track!