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LGBTQIA+ Experiences in Motorsport: Navigating Identity On and Off the Track

MP News — June 21, 2023

For the past few years, we have changed our logo to the MP logo with the pride flag each Pride month. This is all we do to show that we stand with the LGBTQIA+ community and show solidarity. We realised that changing our social profile pictures wasn’t enough. We didn’t change our profile picture this year because we wanted to change more than just the logo. That’s why we decided to chat with racing fans who are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community about their experiences.

Within the motorsports community and among those we interviewed, some individuals are considered part of the LGBTQIA+ community, each with a unique identity. We’ve spoken to several fans who identify as bisexual and another who identifies as non-binary and intersex, thereby taking their identity beyond traditional binary gender.

Social media Experiences

One of the questions we asked the fans was if they had any negative or positive experiences on social media regarding their sexuality. Irene reflected on the prevalence of homophobic comments on social media, stating, “I have seen a lot of comments (both in the motorsport sphere and a broader sense) that are homophobic/biphobic/transphobic. More than ever during Pride Month because companies and big accounts so openly support (or try to show they support) the community, which always brings negative comments. I don’t think there’s a tweet by a motorsport team celebrating Pride Month when there aren’t at least a few homophobic reactions. I know some people quit Twitter because of the homophobes. And I sometimes see Matt Bishop tweet a screenshot of another homophobic tweet that was sent his way.” She also highlighted the positive experiences within her curated social media bubble, stating, “The overall ‘queer experience’ in my bubble is really nice.”

“I’ve been called different names, been told that bisexuality isn’t real. I’ve been told I shouldn’t be a motorsport fan because LGBT+ people don’t have a place within the sport.” Millie said sharing her negative experiences with us. She also expressed gratitude for the supportive individuals in the community, stating: “There are a lot of fans within the community that are so supportive! And with a lot of journalists/drivers/people that work within motorsport, they’ve all been so supportive and have always been so kind about sexuality. Also, with teams themselves, so many of them have been supportive and are always so kind when people are homophobic towards you under one of their posts.”

Li shared their experience of facing negativity on social media, saying, “I’ve experienced a lot of negativity about my sexual orientation on social media from the motorsport community. I’ve been subjected to homophobia and been called slurs by other fans.” They also highlighted the positive aspect of finding support within the LGBTQIA+ community, stating, “I’ve also, however, had many positive experiences on social media in relation to my sexuality, like coming together with other members of the LGBTQIA+ community within motorsports to find new friends.”

Tania expressed her fortunate experience, stating, “Fortunately, I have not had any negative experiences with my sexuality on social media, especially on Twitter.” She also shared her positive experience of connecting with like-minded fans, saying, “My positive experience was that the girls I met on Twitter because we all support the same driver, were very supportive.”

Brooklyn, stating she’s partially open about being queer on socials, described their experience of encountering negative comments after coming out in solidarity with someone, saying, “There was one incident where someone came out, which got quite a lot of backlash. I also got a few homophobic and transphobic comments.” They also mentioned the concerning amount of homophobia under team posts in support of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Lucy expressed her appreciation for the recent development of a more inclusive motorsport community, stating, “It’s changed from a very distinct market (mostly men) to being a diverse place where I feel comfortable being myself and finding new friends who have been through the same struggles as being part of the LGBTQ+ community is amazing, as it has made me feel more confident in myself.” Having said this, she has also seen the bad side of social media. “I have had some negative experiences on social media to do with my identity, which generally comes from larger motorsports teams including pride in their liveries/mentioning it in posts, etc. where there are many negative and offensive comments coming from the wider motorsports’ community. Although there isn’t much anyone can do about this, it is quite demoralising to see how much discrimination is still present in motorsports, but the teams including pride in their work makes me very happy, and outweighs the negative comments coming from the community.”

Besides asking about their social media experiences, we also asked them about their on track experiences. Most fans haven’t gone to race events, but those who did state they haven’t had any negative experiences themselves. Although not facing any negative experiences, Brooklyn did prepare when joining a Grand Prix, stating “I went to a race last year, but because I know how homophobic motorsport fans can be, I decided to be quite careful with what I reveal about myself. So I didn’t really face any homophobia.” Li mentioned having positive experiences on track as well: “One positive thing I have experienced on track, about my sexual orientation, at races I have attended has been seeing racing teams working towards making the sport a more welcoming place – like the rainbow on the front wing of the Maserati FE cars or the rainbow on the mirrors of the Alpine F1 cars during the Spanish GP.”

The Changing Landscape

Both Millie and Li have observed a growing wave of support within the LGBTQIA+ motorsport community. Initiatives like Racing Pride, an organisation that raises awareness and advocates for inclusivity, are playing a pivotal role in driving positive change. Racing teams are increasingly taking proactive steps to stand against homophobia and actively display their support for LGBTQIA+ inclusion. Tania noted positive changes in the motorsport world, especially with drivers like Lewis Hamilton showing support. However, she highlighted the need for more acceptance from the older generation, stating, “But I think the older generation should take it more seriously and accept it because, especially on Instagram when a team, driver, or Sky posts something about LGBTQIA+, there are always a lot of disgusting comments.”

Irene reflected on the progress made in LGBTQ+ support and allyship within motorsport, mentioning the formation of Racing Pride and partnerships with teams. She emphasised the importance of creating a safe environment, saying, “I hope we, the fans, teams, staff, drivers, media can create an environment where it is safe for everyone to come out, to be themselves wherever they go.”

Brooklyn expressed concerns about the reactions to F1 team’s posts in support of the LGBTQ+ community, stating, “And as we try to fight for more acceptance within the sport and our right to exist in the motorsport world and just in general, the reactions to F1 team’s posts in support of our community, and the general lack of rainbow capitalism this year, has been very, very frightening.”

Mick acknowledged the slow but positive change, mentioning, “I think it’s changing, slowly but definitely for the better. It’s also very nice to see drivers and teams being supportive and vocal about what’s happening in the world in general.” An anonymous respondent expressed gratitude for the increasing acceptance and support, stating, “As I see, acceptance and support towards LGBTQIA+ people is increasing within the motorsports community, which is a very lovely thing. I’m glad that I can feel safe.”

MP family

We hope to showcase MP Motorsport as a family, on track but also on social media and as a brand. This means we accept everyone for who they are, but also acknowledge that our sport and the environment we love needs some changes. As mentioned by the fans we have spoken to, the motorsport community is slowly changing, but this only started a couple of years ago.

To keep our social media channels a safe space for everyone, we will call out and delete unsolicited hate comments. We are not saying you have to agree with everyone’s point of view, but we do ask for empathy and respect towards everyone and especially minorities.

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