I started karting when I was 12 years old and then moved into cars when I was 18. By winning my first British Championship that year, I managed to raise further sponsorship and funding to help me move up the racing ladder, although I never made it to Formula One due to lack of some talent and money.
There isn’t any one moment that stands out in my mind as the moment I realised I would need to live in the closet if I wanted my motorsport career to go anywhere; it was just a general feeling I got. There were enough gay jokes and homophobic slurs to go around, and I felt like if I lifted my head out of the trenches, I’d be immediately annihilated.
I decided to come out as an athlete because I would like to encourage more people in my situation. I want them to know that it’s ok to be who you are and especially in our sport we love.
I’ve hidden my sexuality for a while, but feel I’m ready and now is the right time to come out of the closet and be true to myself. I read other athletes stories on Out For The Win website which gave me confidence and inspired me to do exactly the same thing.
Only a few close people knew my situation and racing is a very masculine sport so I was worried it may harm my racing career, and possibly coaching too. But staying hidden was nothing but torture and pain. You kind of live two lives and over time it wears you down and you feel depressed. I couldn’t speak to or make friends with other people like me for fear that someone would notice and connect the dots. I have no idea if my sport is tolerant but we will soon find out I guess! I’m sure most people will be a bit shocked but hopefully over time will embrace it and see I’m still the same person.
I fought my own lie even as I was fighting to keep it a secret. Eventually, something in me flipped, and I couldn’t keep it in any more. I came out to my wife, who told me she’d guessed I was gay for a while, and she was really understanding and supportive.
From there, my ability to keep it secret slowly unravelled. Being out to my immediate circle has made me feel far more comfortable with myself. I have so much more mental energy, now that I’m not constantly keeping track of the burdensome, decades-old lie. To quote Ani DiFranco: “No matter what your walls are made of, a closet is no place for a person to live.”
I was very scared of the reactions of my club and teammates. There was no one else out in my club, I didn’t have an example. I was also scared of losing sponsors and contracts within the sport.
Still, I was very scared of the reactions of my club and teammates. There was no one else out in my club, I didn’t have an example. I was also scared of losing sponsors and contracts within the sport. Now I have retired it’s not so much of an issue worrying about sponsors. So far I’ve had mainly positive feedback but I’m ready for a few negatives here and there. There are trolls in the motorsport community who could very well rear their heads to try silence me, but there’s a group of researchers keeping track of my twitter mentions as I come out to help inform other queer racers wanting to come out.
As I say this, my ‘coming out’ interview with a racing journalist is pending publication. I have no idea of the kind of response I’ll get to that article. I hope that there are a few people who are supportive. I decided to come out as an athlete because I would like to encourage more people in my situation. I want them to know that it’s ok to be who you are and especially in our sport we love, and if we’re different then let’s be proud of who we are. Be proud to be gay, bisexual or trans. If the response I’ve had from the queer motorsport community thus far is any gauge, I feel hopeful that I’ll find a supportive group to start driving change for my queer siblings in the sport I love.
I’m looking forward to being a part of the pride in Birmingham this year as well as many other events and charity events in the LGBT community. I will endeavour to support other queer racing related people.