Beckoning A New Wave of Diversity in F1
With June being the start of Pride Month, Formula 1 fans flocked to Twitter to celebrate, come out, or just show their support as allies of the LGBTQ+ community. Trending words on the app included ‘Happy Pride Month’, ‘LGBTQ’ and ‘#loveislove’. Out of the teams, Mercedes and Williams social media shared a post about Pride, while Aston Martin announced a month-long partnership with Racing Pride to “[celebrate] the LGBTQ+ community.”
Racing Pride, founded by Christopher Sharp and Richard Morris in 2019 in collaboration with Stonewall, is a leading LGBTQ+ organisation and “innovative movement to positively promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity within the motorsport industry.” They have driver ambassadors in endurance racing, touring cars and single seaters, and a core team that consists of media persons across the industry. With regards to the new partnership, Morris said, “it marks a hugely significant step in Racing Pride’s journey to positively promote LGBTQ+ inclusion through motorsport.”
The Aston Martin drivers have also spoken out, with Sebastian Vettel remarking, “I congratulate the people who have pushed the discussion that has led to wider inclusion; but, equally, I’m aware that more needs to be done to change attitudes and remove much of the remaining negativity,” and Lance Stroll adding on, “this initiative is a way we can be pro-active as a team in breaking down barriers and fostering positivity.” Fans at the French Grand Prix will spot Racing Pride logos on the duo’s cars and get to read pieces on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the paddock on the Aston Martin website, but this is bigger than a simple sticker on some bodywork.
This partnership is one of the biggest steps an F1 team has ever taken to publicly promote queer diversity, and the team’s campaign with Cognizant will also see them pushing out social and community initiatives for further awareness throughout the month. Beyond simply publishing content about diversity, Racing Pride has had a hand in developing Aston Martin’s inclusivity policies in a move that hopefully, will see more LGBTQ+ people in the paddock.
LGBTQ+ representation has been a lacking pillar of diversity in the F1 sphere. There has been roaring support for Lewis Hamilton’s advocacy for racial inclusion and the W Series becoming a support series, and the revised We Race As One campaign declares an aim for sustainability in the sport and a general call for creating a “more diverse culture”. But until now, there hasn’t been enough voices in the paddock itself to explicitly speak out on queer representation. As Stroll said, “[the partnership] also a great way for us to support Formula 1’s wider #WeRaceAsOne initiative”, and if F1 can place more emphasis on LGBTQ+ alongside “End Racism” (but absolutely not to discount the importance of the BLM movement) perhaps there will be more encouragement for LGBTQ+ people to support or make their way into the motorsports industry.
Although this partnership is merely the first step of a long road to true equality in motorsports, it is an ever important one. Especially as this comes at a time where media has become so intertwined with sports and fan engagement, and like Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer said, “we hope our engagement with this issue will act as a beacon for the rest of the motorsport world to follow our example.”
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Another piece I wrote on the LGBTQ+ communtiy in F1: https://www.thecourieronline.co.uk/f1-and-the-lgbtq-community/