Horse Racing And LGBT Rights: Meet Racing With Pride
The traditional image of people involved in British horse racing has been one of stuffy, snobbish individuals resistant to change; an upper-class sport unwelcoming of newcomers that do not fit the profile.
Think of the most well-known figures involved with horse racing – members of royal families, billionaires, and tycoons.
However, in September 2020 the horse racing landscape in the United Kingdom shifted ever so slightly after Racing With Pride was launched by the Diversity in Racing Steering Group (DiRSG).
As the official statement said, Racing With Pride “is designed for British racing’s participants, workforce and fans who identify as lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other sexual orientations and gender identities (LGBT+) as well as allies of the LGBT+ community who want to demonstrate their support, regardless of their own identity.”
So, how does Racing With Pride work in action? And how is the initiative helping to break down barriers in British horse racing?
Racing With Pride’s Three Key Areas
Upon its launch, Racing With Pride set out three major aims the organization strives to achieve: support, awareness, and engagement.
Support pertains to offering a safe and welcoming space for LGBT+ racing fans and allies to meet and enjoy the racing, both online and in person at the track. Awareness is all about promotion and education, offering those involved in horse racing with a greater understanding of the LGBT+ experience and how to become better allies.
As for engagement, Racing With Pride is providing platforms for horse racing’s LGBT+ community to have a collective voice and shared influence with which they can contribute to shaping the future of the sport.
Where Racing With Pride Members Gather
Much of the community and its activity is based on social media. There is a secure Facebook group where members meet, communicate, and share ideas, while there is also a Twitter account that posts important updates and news.
Additionally, Racing With Pride has an email newsletter that keeps its subscribers up to date with the latest work and any upcoming events. You can find the latest horse racing news here too.
Why is Racing With Pride Important?
The importance of the community and DiRSG’s desire to expand it is to make horse racing more inclusive. Depressingly, all sports on all levels – from grassroots to professional – suffer from discrimination, making those who are being discriminated against alienated from enjoying those sports, either as a fan or a participant.
While many major organizations have for years been driving campaigns in an attempt to eradicate discrimination from their sports (to varying degrees of success), it was not until Racing With Pride came along less than two years ago that such efforts were being made in British horse racing.
As horse racing broadcaster Clare Balding said: “Racing is trying hard to embrace a wider audience and to make its own diverse workforce feel confident and comfortable. This platform is a welcome innovation and I hope will encourage more LGBT people already in racing to feel appreciated and supported.
“As for those who have yet to discover the beauty of racehorses and the fun of a race day, I look forward to when we can celebrate with the first Pride Racing Festival which will no doubt have a carnival atmosphere!”
How Racing With Pride Has Been Visible
In addition to various events to raise awareness and increase engagement, one of the most striking impacts Racing With Pride made was when it ran a competition to design rainbow-colored silks to be worn by a professional jockey.
Following on from the competition, Racing is Everyone’s Sport announced that jockeys would wear rainbow armbands in support of racing’s LGBT+ community. That initiative took place across five races at five different tracks in December 2021.
There is still a long way to go for horse racing to become a fully safe and welcoming space for LGBT+ fans, but Racing With Pride is making great strides and provides a vital community that otherwise would not be there.