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Openly Gay NASCAR Driver Evan Darling

by John Billow
Thursday Mar 24, 2011
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If there is a less gay friendly sport than nasCar driving, I don’t know what it could be. It could be argued of course, that there aren’t ANY sports that are totally gay friendly, with the obvious exception of figure skating. Still, of the "Big 4" sports, Basketball, Football, Baseball, and Hockey, how many openly gay players can you name? Oh sure, there are a few here and there who have come out once they retired, but for the most part the locker room closet door remains tightly locked.

Now, let’s take a look at the auto sports. We can express the expected number of out gay race car drivers in the following mathematical formula:

Homophobia in most sports = rednecks + beer/brain cells to number of missing teeth. Once you plug in real numbers we can expect one that is somewhere south of zero. Surpris- ingly, in the car racing category this isn’t the case, because there is at least one openly gay professional driver out there.

Evan Darling, 42, has been a racer for 16 years and has won multiple divisional titles and has competed in both sprint and endurance races. As a kid he raced BMX bikes, moving up to motorcycles, then graduating to cars, eventually joining the racing body known as the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). His impressive record includes wins at Daytona, Sebring, and a top 10 placement at the Koni Grand Am Challenge. Darling isn’t just a driver like pretty boy Jeff Gordon, he’s also an ASE certified master technician.

Although he has never made a big issue of his sexual- ity, Darling has been out since he was 18 years old. It was a difficult time for him, his conservative parents sent him to psychological counseling in order to fix him. At the same time, his brother joined anti-gay organizations while at college and continues to oppose LGBT rights as a leader in the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation.

The reaction from his family was tough for him. "I felt disowned and decided to move to New York with the person I was dating. I enrolled in Architecture and Art classes at Parsons School of Design, but I couldn’t afford to work and go to school and had to drop out."

Eventually Darling found his way back to his love of cars and racing. He landed a job at Ferrari, and entered the field of professional racing. It was a tough transition for him because, even though NASCAR is the largest and fastest growing sport in the country, it isn’t exactly known for the progressive attitude of the drivers or the fans.

Being openly gay has been a challenge in his relation- ships with fans and sponsors alike. In an interview last year he said: "It’s a good old boy network and the last couple of years it’s been tough to get cars and sponsors. I’m hoping that by telling my story, some folks in the gay community will step up and support my team. I’m the gay Danica Patrick looking for his David Letterman."

Despite the challenges he faces, Darling continues to do what he loves, and perhaps makes a difference in the lives of people who may not have any other LGBT role models. It’s very possible that kids who grow up in NASCAR-loving families, may not have access to cable networks like LOGO. He’s quite aware of the potential impact he may have as a role model for LGBT kids and teens, that’s why The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organiza- tion targeting LGBT youth, has been one of his sponsors.

Will professional racing pass the likes of figure skating and softball to become the LGBT commu- nity’s favorite sport? Probably not anytime soon, but in the meantime it’s good that kids and adults in NASCAR homes everywhere have a positive role model to look up to and to make them realize that being gay doesn’t have to mean that everyone wears rainbow thongs and feather boas.

www.edarlingenterprises.com

Copyright Rage Monthly. For more articles from Rage visit www.ragemonthly.com

Comments

  • eJohn, 2011-03-24 10:28:30

    One point--figure skating is *EXTREMELY* hostile toward gay folks. Most of the venues are owned by extreme right-wing hate mongers. All the writer had to do was Google "figure skating homophobia" to know better.


  • Anonymous, 2011-03-24 10:49:09

    The person writing this article obviously doesn’t know a lot about auto racing. That being said, as a 50 year NASCAR fan, I am so sick of the media who portrays NASCAR as a redneck sport. Yes, it used to be that way. Today it is far from that. Drivers are from all over the US. Teams now have graduate engineers working on their cars. Ryan Newman has an engineering degree from Purdue. So stop the redneck comments. NASCAR has outgrown that stereotype and much more sophisticated today.


  • Anonymous, 2011-03-24 11:45:17

    your opening line is insulting and uneducated. ask the thousands of readers at Queers4Gears.com


  • Anonymous, 2011-03-24 15:33:31

    Hey Everyone! This is a VERY brave man and we owe him a "world of gratitude"! I can’t even begin to imagine what he’s been faced with in his life? When I think of the definition of a real man, "this Dude has got it"! I’ve never even heard of him before but I certainly will pay attention to the sport now!


  • Anonymous, 2011-03-25 08:34:23

    Even more than I wonder why the world of professional sports is so homophobic, I wonder why the world of queer journalism is so classist. You comments about "rednecks" and "missing teeth" are nothing more than snotty, working-class-bashing prejudice, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for perpetuating stereotypes in the same breath with which you call for an end to stereotypes. You owe an abject apology -- not just to poor and working-class people (who, incidentally, are a lot less homophobic than the middle class) -- but to those of us who are fans and participants in racing, football, and other sports -- and are also queer. We don’t fit into your neat scheme of the world, and I thank god for that.


  • Anonymous, 2013-06-04 13:40:13

    That Man is GORGEOUS! Beautiful Eyes! (sigh)... Not pretty enough to make me want to watch the races, but who cares! I live in Daytona Beach! Perhaps I can catch him at a club... (he’d look tasty wrapped around a pole!)


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