We Are Proud: The Drive Celebrates Pride Month
Join us as we highlight queer people who have incontrovertibly helped shape the automotive landscape we live in.
I am an automotive writer and enthusiast. I like to work on model railroads, I build custom Hot Wheels cars and dioramas to accompany them, and I have an interest in niche Soviet rocketry projects. I cover The Drive’s aviation beat because I adore planes, I am fortunate enough to review some of my favorite dream cars of all time, and I travel widely for new-car drives to do my best to accurately and honestly give consumer advice to our readers. I have delved deeply into investigative service journalism as a way to use my platform for the most good possible. I am an avid photographer, I have a fashion lookbook in the works, and truthfully, I enjoy being alive and myself.
Lately, all of these interests and joys and hobbies have been taking a backseat frequently because I am also a trans woman.
I wrote openly about the process of rediscovering myself and who I could become after transition in the Vanscontinental Express series, but that new self and novel joy are no longer what’s on my mind. The reasons I think about being a trans woman this year are societally induced and steeped in anxiety. There are the obvious, headline-grabbing legal pushes to demote LGBT+ people to second-class citizens, and attempts to charge families with trans children with child abuse for affirming their kids, paired with a lot of influential media discussion about whether our existence is a problem to be “solved.” But more directly than the roiling legal and political waters that will determine our futures are immediate problems that prevent me from thinking beyond my next trip outside the four walls of my house.
[June is Pride Month and The Drive is celebrating it by highlighting queer people who have incontrovertibly helped shape the automotive landscape we live in. This year especially, with so much stress on our collective shoulders, it feels crucial to remind everyone—and ourselves—that we have the right to be proud of who we are.]
I live close to a very active downtown area of Reno, Nevada, that I enjoyed going out to when I first moved here. After a few months, I stopped visiting bars and restaurants and venues there unless I was accompanied by cisgender friends because the heckling and slurs leveled at me were too intimidating to handle alone. I have suffered panic attacks in TSA airport lines because not only does my body continually set off backscatter radiation scanners, but security agents who have the power to detain me think I’m a pervert. I no longer shop for Hot Wheels cars in stores because I am worried parents will object to my mere presence near children. I have not gone to a car show in six months because I have been warned by locals that the crowds tend to include alt-right Proud Boy attendees who likely will object to my existence, potentially with violence. I look visibly trans, and the ambient hostility for that fact has been cranked to absurd levels.
And all of this, ultimately, is a terrifying distraction for both me and every queer person in existence from what we would rather be doing, which is living life. Coming out as LGBT+ anywhere on the spectrum is never easy, but when we do it, we do it because we want—we need—to live openly in the world on our terms. I would never have become a writer without transitioning and telling the world who I really am. Before transitioning, it was impossible to imagine being honest with anyone, and all of my stories from that time told only small slivers of what I truly felt. For me, coming out was as much about stating that I am a trans woman as it was an announcement to the whole world that I would finally live my life as a complete self.
A comic I find deeply meaningful by Tess Scillipoti, a writer and trans woman
And so—with this as background—that is why I am working on a few features for The Drive’s Pride month celebration. Pride has always been important to me after a life mostly lived in shame about who I was. From me, you’ll be hearing from Eurobeat music producer Jessa Stebbins and professional race car driver Charlie Martin—ones who are deeply creative, driven, excited about their passions, and are thrilled to be part of the broad tapestry of car culture. As any enthusiast would be. Our own Kevin Williams will also discuss the importance of attending the Out Motorsports rally and tell the story of what it was like to come out on a car forum.
We are all trying to build places to exist as fully realized individuals that are friendly, supportive, and allow both us and the LGBT+ community around us to thrive and become the best possible people we can become. I cannot think of any greater way to celebrate pride in ourselves as a community than by showcasing the accomplishments and happiness that naturally follow from living authentic lives on our own terms.
For the broader automotive world at large, I hope these stories illustrate how important acceptance is in our hobbies and lives. For my siblings in the LGBT+ community, I hope that these features give you hope for a better future, and a realization there is a place for you here, too. Above all, no matter who you are, I hope you enjoy.
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