A few words about Danny Watts, and why it matters

Before I get into the main subject, I want to make it clear that this piece strays away from motor sport broadcasting to a degree. Whilst this is a broadcasting site, if there are other elements that I wish to talk about, then I will do so.

If you have read the AUTOSPORT or Motorsport.com website in the past few days, you will have learnt that ex-Le Mans driver Danny Watts has announced that he is homosexual. Whilst the reaction was largely positive, a few wondered why motor sport outlets were covering this as news.

A bit of back-story as to why this matters to me: I can relate to Danny’s story, having come out as bisexual last year after debating whether to for a long time. It was a weight off my shoulders, as it probably is his. Coming out should never be trivialised in the media, behind every decision is a long battle that each individual has faced.

People accepted me for who I was, bisexuality is not a taboo subject in my circle of influence. Generally, in society, LGBT matters are becoming less of a taboo subject. Now let us look at the motor sport world. How many LGBT role models are there in the motor sport landscape? As far as I am aware, there is not one LGBT role model for LGBT fans to look-up to. That changed this week. For LGBT motor racing fans, this matters.

Watts’ comments suggest to me that LGBT matters are a taboo subject in motor sport. For a variety of reasons: the media attention, the sponsorship, the countries that motor sport visits that might not be so receptive, even down to the grid girls that gives off a badly out-dated impression and so on. I can understand the predicament that Watts faced during his motor racing career.

With no major LGBT representation in the paddock, it makes it difficult for people, such as Watts, to be themselves in the eye of the media and the paddock, which in turn could affect an individual’s performance. You have to make a stand, and that is exactly what Watts has done. I applaud him for being brave and coming out. The idea of stars not coming out for fear of a negative reaction, or worse still losing their job or drive is frightening.

Is it a news story? In general culture, I would be starting to argue, not really. However, in motor sport, when you consider the taboo nature of LGBT in motor sport and what Watts faced, it absolutely is news. Danny brings into the public spotlight issues that were previously not in the spotlight. With that in mind, the stance that AUTOSPORT and Motorsport.com took in covering Danny Watts’ announcement was spot on.

Congratulations Danny 🙂

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9 thoughts on “A few words about Danny Watts, and why it matters

  1. It’s sad that sexuality is still in some circles a taboo subject… A lot of talk about footballers that come out (I hate that phrase but what else can you call it) but this is the first motorsports star that I know of that’s (sigh) “come out”

    Whatever the thoughts I have on the phrasing he’s done something very brave (as have you) and he should be applauded for it and will (hopefully) pave the way for others to do the same

    Well done Danny.. The motorsports world and the LGBT community should be very proud of you 🙂

  2. I do not see why it should be any kind of news in any context. people are what they are, end of story!

    It seems to be the media that are intent on making a mountain of news out of a simple fact which just concerns the person.
    It makes me annoyed that you have even mentioned it here at all. The only news is that you and your colleagues make a big deal out of a personal fact. Are you really that far behind the times? Leave the guy alone.
    When I first read of this “news” my reaction was “Yeah so what?” This is 2017 not 1970. In what way is it news?

  3. Very good article David.

    I totally agree with all the points you raised and it is also good to see that, in addition to the Autosport-Motorsport.com staff, many of the motor sport pundits on Twitter (notably Will Buxton and Jack Nichols) have added their weight to support for Danny Watts.

    It is a sad reflection on motor sport that Danny Watts did not feel able to ‘come out’ until he retired – but then, with the much publicised homophobic comments from Stirling Moss and support for Putin’s anti-gay regime from Bernie Ecclestone, it seems that many in motor sport still have social attitudes that date back to the 1950’s!

    By the way, I have always been a big Lewis Hamilton fan but my respect for him grew even higher when he recently put a rainbow flag together with a message in support of LGBT rights on his social media sites.

    Well done David. Keep up the good work.

  4. Why do homosexuals feel the need to proclaim their sexuality?
    I have met some homosexuals before and they seemed keen to show the world that they are gay more than hetrosexuals show their sexuality. By this i mean that while men and women walk around holding hands, the men i have met were putting their hands down each others trousers in full view of the public. I know men are more sexual than women but these gay men were clearly crossing the boundaries of public decency and could only have provoked homophobic comments.

    • Chris Williams, your comment is a complete red herring that has absolutely no relevance to David’s article about Danny Watts.
      I suspect that you are deliberately just trying to make mischief.

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