I have often thought about the connection between my sexuality and the sport that has been my biggest passion since 1997. Interestingly, I started realising that I was “different” at about the same time when I discovered F1.
Thanks to the internet, I have met many gay and bisexual motorsport fans over the last years so now I know that I am not the only gay guy, who prefers F1 to figure skating and diving, which are much more often associated with homosexuality.
One of my American friends runs a website and a podcast for gay motorsport (mainly NASCAR) fans, queers4gears.com. He says that he wants to bring new fans to the sport. It certainly is an interesting concept. The barriers keep falling and just like (most) people have come to understand that God created women not only for the kitchen, people are starting to realize that gay men have very different interests.
I believe that your sexuality has impact on how you see the world, including F1. For instance, I can get quite emotional when watching F1 or talking about it. I have always been interested in the emotional side of the sport, more than in the technical stuff. To me, F1 serves also as an escape from the world, which is not always a nice place to be if you are gay and live in a former Soviet Republic. That said, all these things could be said about a lot of straight F1 fans, too.
For sure, F1 drivers are young, fit and good-looking men and I notice that. But I do not watch F1 because of hot drivers and I never choose my favourite F1 drivers based on their looks. Well, I follow F1_Hotties on Twitter and cute drivers will catch my eye but there are at least one hundred more important reasons why I love F1. When I see drivers standing on the podium or doing interviews, I do not think of them as hunks, I think of them as human. For the record, I also do not want grid girls to be replaced by grid boys.
It would be good to see a couple of openly gay drivers in F1, just like it would be nice to see Chinese F1 drivers, female F1 drivers and transgender F1 drivers. I think F1 would profit from more diversity but it is not an end in itself. Drivers should be in F1 on merit, period. However, it is important to send a clear message that everyone is welcome in F1, including the LGBT people.
I am not happy to read rather homophobic remarks from Bernie Ecclestone, Niki Lauda or Stirling Moss even though that does not mean that I do not appreciate the great things that these men have done in / for the sport. People will always have different opinions but I am missing contrary statements where an F1 driver, a team owner or Jean Todt would say: “I am with the LGBT community and I fully support equal rights for everyone”. I am sure that most people involved in F1 are not homophobic but it would be nice to see some open support.
I would like to see FIA, FOM and the teams taking a more proactive approach to supporting human rights. When you google “F1 gay”, you should find something better than news that Ecclestone supports Putin on gay rights issue or that Lotus fired their PR chief because of a gay kiss tweet.
I do care about lack of gay rights in some of the countries that host F1 races, such as Malaysia or Russia. What is more, if a country discriminates LGBT people, it always discriminates several other groups of society, too. F1 should not be afraid to talk about human rights just like it was not afraid to stand up against racism after Lewis Hamilton had been subjected to racist abuse. If you ignore a problem, it sooner or later comes back and bites you anyway.
Nevertheless, while I pay more attention to some aspects of F1 than the average spectator, I do not think that I am that much different from the other fanatics. Just like them, I love nothing more than being in the grandstands; I read F1 news every day, form my opinions and cannot wait for the next race to come.
I feel attracted to men. Still, if anyone asked me if I was gay, I would tell them: “No, I am a Formula 1 fan.”