Gay NASCAR Drivers

Gay NASCAR Drivers

gay nascar drivers two drivers kissing

Description:  With gay marriage laws hogging the headlines lately, it stands to reason that eventually some people will wonder about homosexual race car drivers. Some have wondered if there are gay NASCAR drivers.

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So are there gay NASCAR drivers?

Well, for the record there was at least one. Currently, no driver is admitting to being gay, but in 2001 Stephen Rhodes participated in the NASCAR Late Model Stock Division at Southern National Raceway Park.

Who is Stephen Rhodes?

Stephen-Rhodes-Nascar

 

He was the first of future unknown gay NASCAR drivers to officially announce being  gay. “Everyone knew, everyone was aware; never really had any confrontations,” Rhodes told NASCAR Race Hub. He was quiet about it though, and he quit so he could help his partner open a restaurant in 2010.

But last year, a lot of the headlines put the spotlight back on Rhodes. “Stephen Rhodes announces he is gay,” read the headlines. It was news because Rhodes was aiming to get back into NASCAR, and with Facebook and Twitter all the fans will know that there are gay NASCAR drivers.

Rhodes was actually angling to get some financial support from the LGBTQ community. He has a crowdfunding webpage soliciting for support, and he’s calling his campaign the Race for Equality.

 

The Jeff Gordon and Stephen Rhodes Relationship

Following the news regarding the return of Stephen Rhodes to NASCAR, the news exploded online regarding a supposed Jeff Gordon and Stephen Rhodes relationship. The headline read “Jeff Gordon And Stephen Rhodes Confirm Homosexual Relationship; NASCAR Fans Outraged”. Twitter and Facebook exploded as the story went viral. The story said that Jeff Gordon’s divorce was imminent and was dating Rhodes openly and they were indeed gay NASCAR drivers.

The problem was that the news wasn’t true. The website was an Onion clone, as it was a satirical site. All the signs were there, and even the disclaimer page expressly stated that it was a satirical and entertainment website. One of the popular news videos on the site even said that a baby mermaid had washed up ashore in the Caribbean. Another news headline announced that WNBA star Becky Hammon has stated that she would perform oral sex on anyone who beat her in HORSE.

 

Why Was Jeff Gordon Picked for the Fake News?

Jeff Gordon was targeted probably because he’s good-looking unlike the iconic Dale Earnhardt, and he’s from California where the liberal attitudes were in direct contrast with the mostly Southern crowd.

jeff-gordon image with nascar hat

In fact, there was a time when Jeff Gordon was acknowledged as the most hated man in the sport of NASCAR. For the first ten years of his career, he was the one driver that fans hated the most. He was booed at every track meet.

The reasons for the disdain may be open for debate, but it didn’t help when he won so early in his career, and he won so often. The die-hard fans didn’t quite appreciate how a newbie was beating on their traditional favorites like Earnhardt, Waltrip, Allison, Pearson, and Petty.

Jeff Gordon got his first Cup championship in 1995, which was just his 3rd year in the sport. For the next five-year he won 47 races and three championships. He won the biggest events several times, which really didn’t endear him to the fans. He won the Daytona 500 three times, the Brickyard 400 four times and the Southern 500 five times.

jeff gordon and wife

(Pictured above Jeff Gordon and wife Ingrid Vandebosch)

Now how is this relevant to the topic of gay drivers? Well, the fans hated Jeff Gordon because he was different, and he won too much and too often. What happens if there’s an openly gay driver in NASCAR…and then he starts winning? It wouldn’t be surprising if the epithets and jeers contained a reference to his sexual orientation.

Consider also why some fans don’t like Danica Patrick. She was paid so much attention for being one of the top female NASCAR Drivers, and some fans didn’t think she deserved that much attention when she didn’t win all that often. And if Rhodes or possibly other “outed” gay NASCAR drivers gets media attention when they don’t win, there’s a very good chance of some antipathy too.

 

There Probably are gay NASCAR drivers

Are there gay NASCAR drivers? Statistically speaking, there’s a very good chance that there’s one except he is not telling just yet. After all, find any exclusively male group and you’ll find gay guys among them.

  • The most notable group here is the military, where the guys are supposed to be manly men. But everyone knows that there are gay guys in the military, although the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy means that no one is supposed to care.
  • There are gay guys in the police department too, which is why in 1978 the NTC mayor issued an executive order which forbade discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation or affectional preference.” And in 1982, the Gay Officers Action League was founded by gay police officers.
  • Even boy bands have gay members. Of course, this news is probably not surprising to NASCAR fans. Saying that there are gay guys among those who like to sing and dance in tandem is like saying there may be gay guys among those who like to design clothes.

But in reality, it doesn’t matter what kind of group it is.

If you have a large enough group, there is going to be someone there who’s gay. While most people disagree how many guys there are in the population, that there will be at least one is statistically likely. That applies to NASCAR too.

 

NASCAR Makes statement for recent Indiana Legislation

So are fans ready for openly gay NASCAR drivers?

Are gay NASCAR drivers acceptable today? These are relevant questions with Rhodes trying to enter and Jason Collins of the NBA openly declaring that he’s gay.

Officially, NASCAR has no problem with being gay. In fact, when Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Rights Law into law, NASCAR’s official reaction was “disappointment”. The law gave Indiana businesses the right to refuse serving gay customers simply by stating that it was against their religion.
nascar logo imageHere’s NASCAR’s official statement:

“NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and, therefore, will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana, and anywhere else we race.”

Stephen Rhodes has gone on record saying that he didn’t endure prosecution among his peers even though they knew he was gay. And Danica Patrick also speculated on what may happen if someone in NASCAR does come out as gay, and she said “I feel like it’s becoming a little bit more acceptable… I’m sure everybody would be OK.”

 Fans and gay NASCAR drivers

So the potential problem is not the official NASCAR administration, nor will it be likely that other drivers will have a problem with it. The potential problem is the demographic of NASCAR. Even Danica Patrick acknowledged that NASCAR is “a very southern, Republican, Bible Belt kind of a sport.”

The southern part of the US is where there used to be segregation and slavery, so it has a history of not cherishing the rights of the minority. The Republican Party is also known for its antagonism against the laws that let gay people get married. And the Bible Belt fans are also not well-known in their support of gay rights, as they’re more likely to quote scripture about how they are “abominations”.

The 2011 Scarborough Research poll also show some rather telling stats:

  • About 63% of the fans are male. And who do you think are the most common perpetrators of anti-gay hate crimes?
  • About 53% of the fans are 45 years old or older. And it’s more likely that the older folks will have old-fashioned views about masculinity and femininity.
  • About 40% of the fans have children under 18 years old. And while there are an increasing number of parents who accept that their children are gay, if they’re pressed they will probably admit that they would rather that their children are heterosexual. So how will parents react when their young children idolize gay race car drivers?
  • About 40% of the fans are part of the American South, and guess where all these states are with antigay laws prohibiting “sodomy” and prohibiting teaching about homosexuality in schools?
  • The largest group fans in terms of income are those who earn $30K to $50K.

But are we stereotyping NASCAR fans in the same way that some people are stereotyping gay people? Who’s to say that just because the typical fan is a white male from the Bible belt that doesn’t earn much money means that the typical fan is a likely against gay NASCAR drivers?

Once upon a time, African American people in baseball were verbally abused in every game, and that happened to Hank Aaron back when he was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record. Times aren’t all that much different now in Europe, where many black soccer players endure racial epithets.

So will someone say something anti-gay when there’s gay NASCAR drivers? Probably. In any large group, there will always be someone who is a moron. Personally, I prefer to think that there will be more of us who won’t care that someone is gay. If someone hurls abuse at a gay driver, then the rest of us should let that moron know that we don’t agree with their actions.

Final Thought:

After all, the car doesn’t care if the driver is a woman, and the car doesn’t care if the driver is gay. And we shouldn’t care either.

Related Nascar Pages:

Nascar Diecast Price Guide

Nascar Racing Flags (the meaning and history)