One of the first people I fully came out to was a college friend.
We were sitting at a picnic table over the lunch hour at Virginia International Raceway. She was working on the grid staff, and I was climbing the ranks of the National Auto Sport Association’s high-performance driver education program in my 1995 Mazda Miata, on my way to earning my full racing license.
Being a car person and being queer are often seen as incompatible. Cars and trucks and racing are largely viewed as hobbies and passions for cisgender straight white men.
Is that truly the case, or are queer people just not visible in the automotive world?
Given many professional racers may have something to lose – be it sponsorship or their manufacturer-provided race car entirely – it’s easy to see why they’d be apprehensive about being out in motorsport. Hurley Haywood waited until he retired to come out.
So many automotive journalists are in the same position, openly queer behind closed doors and very quiet otherwise.
Many years after my racetrack-coming-out, the Miata was gone. I’d blown up the first engine, swapped it for another, and blew that one up, too. I stood in the living room of my Alexandria, Va., apartment, a place I’d chosen because it had a private, one-car garage for my 1997 BMW M3 race car. I certainly didn’t choose it because it so far away from any sort of gay nightlife. A waste processing plant was the closest landmark.
I picked up my phone and called my friend Tyler in New Jersey. We’d been discussing cars, motorsport, and our visibility for a few months, and it was finally time to make some moves.
“Hey, I just bought the domain name, let’s do this.”
Tyler and I officially started Out Motorsports in late 2017. We’d both been involved in the amateur motorsports and racing worlds for years at that point, and had been showing up to events as our authentic selves.
We brought boyfriends to the race track, didn’t choose our words to avoid gendered references, and were met with nothing but acceptance from our chosen track families.
We started by sharing our personal experiences on our website. It was just a blog at the time, and we posted about how track days and autocrosses went. I shared some tales of long road trips and loaner cars I received when my vehicles were in for service.
As we kept writing, we saw more of a need for community. We met more and more “car gays,” and they were all doing neat things with motors and wheels. And they all were super eager to meet others in the same boat.
None of us could find any sort of gathering space or representation. Googling things like “gay car community” resulted in depressingly stark results.
Today, Out Motorsports has grown into the community that Tyler and I couldn’t find in 2017. We’ve had contributors share articles and videos of what they’re up to. We’ve hosted a few trips with Top-Gear-esque “cheap car challenges” – and we’re hosting a much larger event this August, for about 80 to 90 queer folks and their cars.
Last spring, as COVID spread and in-person events were forced to shut down, we started a membership program. Early on, we hosted weekly Zoom gatherings, which have now settled into a monthly cadence. Our members dial in to chat about the car-related topic of the month from locations as far away as Australia.
Beyond our growing community, manufacturers have continued to show their support for our work in the form of event support and a slew of new cars, provided for our week-long evaluation and review.
While seemingly only Subaru recognized the LGBTQ community’s car interests in the mid-1990s, most other brands are very much on board now. They’re glad to have an outlet that is unapologetic in who we are and how we connect.
If what we’re doing resonates with you, we’d love to have you join us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Our “big event” this summer is a rallycrosss - essentially, racing in the dirt for best lap times - and there’s plenty of time to register and find a $1,500 car to bring. If that’s a bit too far or costly or whatnot, join us on Zoom for some shady car banter.
Chosen family is a big deal for the LGBTQ world. Tyler and I both consider our motorsport family “chosen” as we spend inordinate amounts of time with them in parking lots, at racetracks, and in little interstate convoys towing our cars to events.
We’ve grown to know this chosen family outside of motorsport, too, having been there for birthdays and babies and everything in between.
While that chosen track family has always been so special to us, it’s been even more special to see it become a bit more rainbow-colored in recent years.
Also visit outmotorsports.com.