As it turns out, auto racing was one of the first sports with an openly gay athlete – just no one knew about it. Back in 2003, Stephen Rhodes competed in the Camping World Truck Series. At the time, the driver was out but no one bothered to ask him about it. Now, after a 10 year absence from the world of racing, Rhodes is looking to make his return to the world of Nascar. When he returns in 2014, he will become the series’ first openly gay driver.
Rhodes, who came out when he was 17, sat down with the Speed Network to talk about what his return would mean for the sport and how fans might react.
“I don’t think going into a sport – having to face the ones that either like me or don’t like me – is anything any different than I live any day. I live in the South. I know that NASCAR has a conservative, Southern fan base, and I’m not going to try and change anyone’s minds and their opinions. They’re either going to like me or going to hate me. That’s just life in general, really.”
Reactions are already divided. The Bleacher Report collected tweets from fans that were for and against the driver. However, the real reaction will be seen when Rhodes gets behind the wheel next year.
Check out his full interview below: