Pride month is here, and that means it’s time to celebrate our wonderful LGBTQ+ members of the car community!
There’s honestly nothing better than the diversity that can accompany the automotive industry, even though it can be a little tough to find. But that’s okay, because there are tons of organizations around the world that are dedicated to bringing together members of the LGBTQ+ community who love cars. These organizations are designed to provide a safe space where some traditionally marginalized folks can get together and share their passion without fear, and they’re the kind of organizations you should be involved with for Pride Month.
I’ve done work with a few of these organizations, and one of the main things they want people to know is that one’s love of cars is inextricably tied to one’s identity, whether that be your gender, your sexuality, your home country, or any of those other various factors that influence the way you relate to the world around you. So, while a straight person may wonder what sexuality has to do with cars, it’s actually more important than you think.
“I don’t think that being a car person is something that you can turn on and turn off, much like you can’t do that with your gender, your sexual orientation, your race, or whatever,” Out Motorsports co-founder Jake Thiewes told me in an interview last year. “So, how do you embrace both of those things and come to a world where both are able to be realized? We’ve been trying to help build that community for a certain subset of the population.”
Related: What Drives Her: How Charlie Martin Is Racing Toward a More Inclusive Future for Motorsport
View this post on Instagram
Lambda Car Club
Founded in 1981, Lambda Car Club International is the largest collector car club for LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly automobile enthusiasts in North America, though it has ties to different clubs all around the world. It adopted the Lambda name because it’s the same name as the Greek symbol Lambda “λ,” which has deep ties with the LGBTQ+ community; if you attended a university that had an LGBTQ+ friendly sorority or fraternity, it probably included Lambda in its name.
LCCI organizes tons of events for different regions around America, so there’s almost always an event going on within driving distance. If you’re not sure you want to head to an event just yet, then that’s fine, too—there are classified ads you can peruse and a membership portal you can join to meet more LGBTQ+ folks in your area.
We are proud to be part of this broader mission to create a world in which every #LGBTQ+ person feels comfortable and confident taking part in the sports and physical activities they love. 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ https://t.co/Umc0aTCC3C
— Racing Pride (@RacingPrideHQ) May 24, 2021
Racing Pride is a newer, UK-based organization designed to promote LGBTQ+ rights and visibility within the motorsport world. Racing has generally been a straight, cisgender, male-dominated sport, and any LGBTQ+ racers in the fraternity generally kept quiet. Now, though, groups like Racing Pride are highlighting just how many queer folk you can find in the paddock, from racers to journalists to mechanics.
Racing Pride has a series of ambassadors like racer Charlie Martin, who has been a great promoter of the positive intersection of identity and passion within racing.
“A big part of [equality] is visibility,” Charlie told me in an interview several months ago. “I think it’s just down to having people who work in motorsport—whether they’re drivers, engineers, media people, whatever the role—to see members of the LGBTQ+ community working in those roles. That, in turn, then paves the way for other people to follow in their footsteps.
“In a motorsport perspective, it can be difficult because I am so much in the minority that, when I go racing, I don’t know any other out people from the community. I suppose that whenever I’m putting things on Instagram for a race or whatever I’m doing, I try to be myself and not filter what I’m saying, not giving a damn about who’s next to me. it’s showing that, if I can be here, so can you.”
That, above all, is Racing Pride’s goal.
View this post on Instagram
Co-founded by two friends active in their local racing communities, Out Motorsports is a more North American-based organization designed to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the racing sphere. It also blends an active blog with events, outreach, and a community focus; you can lurk there and read the writers’ excellent car reviews and experiences in their most recent races, or you can attend its yearly autocross, or you can join as a member and take part in forum discussions about everything under the sun—whatever you’re most comfortable with. The whole purpose is to create a welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQ+ car folks and allies can learn and grow, all in a welcoming atmosphere.
“When cars and motorsports are such a big part of your life, you get to the point where you want to share the other parts of your life with the friends that you’ve made there,” co-founder Tyler Longmire told me. “You want to be your authentic self around your track friends and everybody you see pretty regularly. You get to be close to them.
“Cars for me have been more than just the automotive aspect. They’ve brought me so many of my friends, so many people I know, so many people who are just going to be around in my life for a long time. Having that friendship and being able to be authentic really fosters a sense of belonging at a track, but it opens people up to so many new friendships and relationships outside of the track.”
Efforts Within the Industry
The automotive industry itself is also evolving to support a more diverse group of employees and consumers, which has traditionally been dominated by an emphasis on straight, cisgender men. That has resulted in a kind of identity gatekeeping, where folks who may identify differently than expected either keep their identity under wraps or who are bullied for identifying themselves at work.
There are countless automakers, though, who are completely revamping their approach to hiring and employee support through employee resource groups (ERGs) and hiring initiatives that not only bring more LGBTQ+ employees into the company but that support them once they’re there.
General Motors told Forbes that it actively campaigns to hire LGBTQ+ talent through various groups like Out in STEM, Out for Undergrad, and Reaching Out MBA, which all support queer students in higher education. Toyota offers scholarships for LGBTQ+ students. Ford and Stellantis also actively seek out LGBTQ+ talent as a way to diversify the worker pool.
Once those folks are hired, companies like Toyota have ERGs that consist of 1,300 people spread out between North America. Mercedes-Benz and Daimler have similar ERGs in various departments.
At the end of the day, these initiatives are great. They actively seek out talent that may not throw its hat in the ring for fear of being too ‘different’ for automotive culture, which means the cars these automakers build, market, and sell cars to a whole new segment of the world.
It’s becoming a more inclusive world for everybody, from enthusiasts to employees.