rocky ride

A near-death experience gave elite cyclist Clay Davies the clarity to come out

 

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This profile is part of Queerty’s 2021 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Name: Clay Davies, 29

Bio: Davies is a British cyclist who holds an “elite level” license in the UK. He started cross-country mountain bike racing in his early 20s, often at high endurance events like the single speed, six-hour Thetford Forest race. Recently, he’s competed in the national cross-country circuit and in international races. When he’s not pedaling, Davies is a full-time property professional.

 

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Coming out: Of the 500 or so fellow elite, male cyclists in the UK, Davies is the only one who has come out. Last August, Davies revealed how a frightening ordeal eight years ago led him to open up about his sexuality. A near-fatal run-in with a motorist prompted his coming out to friends and family. In the candid interview with The British Continental, Davies reflected on the experience and came out to the world. “It took being knocked off my bike by a car nearly being killed, for me to come out,” Davies recalled. “I broke both my arms and had my head crushed by the rear wheel of an Audi. That was my epiphany, the moment I decided to come out and tell people. But it shows how deeply in the closet I had been beforehand. It took quite literally nearly dying for me to reveal my sexuality. Basically, I thought, ‘F*ck it, I’m going to go and tell everyone now.’”

Chosen family: As with other sports, professional team cycling can be a hard place to be out and gay. “I was at the Eastern region road race championships two or three years ago,” Davies recalled. “There were some homophobic slurs being thrown around the bunch. It wasn’t just banter. It was nasty.” With his decision to face the stigma head-on, Davis is tied to a legacy of queer athletes who’ve each contributed to making the world safer and more welcoming for others to follow. And the work is paying off.

 

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“Things are getting better but very slowly,” Davies said. “It’s my view that change needs to be pushed from the top. You cannot force riders to come out but the UCI, top-level teams and British Cycling can do much more in laying the groundwork for all riders to be themselves and make acceptance the norm… There could be some people who take offense and might not agree that this is the right thing to do. I’m sorry if this is the case, I just hope that this interview at least prompts conversation and thought.”

“It is my honest hope that in a few years’ time,” he concluded, “we will look back at this interview and wonder what all the fuss was about.”