ROKiT Venturi Racing: Powered By Pride

On June 17, 2021, ROKiT Venturi Racing sparked change as Head of Partnership Activation, Chloé Bearman, shared her inspiriting story as a gay woman in motorsport’s LGBTQ+ community.

12 months on, Monaco’s only racing team continues to pursue acceptance and inclusivity on the world stage and, throughout June 2022, will be Powered By Pride.

With the intention to educate, ROKiT Venturi Racing, alongside Racing Pride, will seek to promote positive conversations and raise awareness around LGBTQ+ inclusion in motorsport.

Together with our activities away from the track, we will use our global platform to continue to forge a better, more inclusive, future and will contest the Jakarta E-Prix with a revolutionary livery, sporting the Progress Pride flag on the headrest and rear diffuser of our Season 8 challenger.

In observance and celebration of Pride Month in 2022, professional racing driver and Racing Pride Co-Founder, Richard Morris, tells his story as a gay man in motorsport while ROKiT Venturi Racing Team Principal, Jérôme D’Ambrosio, discusses the critical importance of diversity and inclusion.

“I’ve been into motorsport since I was a little kid,” explains Richard. “My Dad was into motorsport, he helped out on his friend’s amateur racing team, it was always on the TV at home and he took me to see various museums and things like that and explained all the cars to me, so that really nurtured my interest in the sport from a very young age.

“I was fortunate to get into karting and when I was around 13 or 14, I was starting to take it more seriously. I was racing at British Championship-level, and I was conscious of wanting to move forward and chase my dreams in the sport. At the same time, I was also starting to become aware that I might be gay.

“At that point, I hadn’t seen any drivers, teams or organisations who had been LGBTQ+ or had supported the LGBTQ+ community, while there was a lot of imagery targeted towards heterosexual men.

“After a couple of incidents in the paddock with people throwing around homophobic comments and in one incident, someone writing homophobic words in permanent marker on my kart, I began to question if I was the sort of person who was welcome and who could really belong in motorsport.

“Because I didn’t know if I would fit in, I hid part of who I was. I carried on but it took me along time before I felt like I could come out and be my true self. That was down to a few reasons – I felt like the only one, I couldn’t see anyone like me and there was no active support or visible allyship. I really did believe that there were plenty of people in the sport who wanted to be inclusive and to welcome everyone to share in the sport we all love, but perhaps they didn’t know how to show that.

“Showing allyship is so essential, though, because until you know that someone is an ally, particularly in an environment where you aren’t seeing other LGBTQ+ people, it’s hard to know if you can come out and still be truly accepted.

“I thought that creating opportunities for visible representation and for visible allyship, as well as starting conversations around the topic and equipping people with the confidence to be supportive allies through simple bits of education could change things a lot and that’s where the idea for Racing Pride originated in 2018.

“I was watching the rainbow laces campaign which runs annually in the UK and features in a lot of sports but I had never seen anything like that in motorsport. When I dug deeper, it became obvious to me that motorsport was not talking about LGBTQ+ inclusion and didn’t have any similar initiatives so I started some conversations via social media and, with the help of some fantastic individuals working in the sport, in the media, and in LGBTQ+ advocacy, we launched Racing Pride in June 2019.

“We wanted to create a collective of LGBTQ+ people in different areas of motorsport who could become the role models which were lacking and in doing so, we wanted to create conversation but also improve visibility and awareness around allyship with the hope of igniting change.”

Since its formation, Racing Pride has grown to become motorsport’s leading LGBTQ+ movement and with a roster of ambassadors internationally, positively promotes inclusivity in the sport.

This inclusivity and diversity is of paramount importance and with a holistic view of performance, ROKiT Venturi Racing Team Principal, Jérôme, explains how taking action and raising awareness can generate lasting change for the future.

“Our team is powered by diversity, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because without diversity, you cannot achieve true sustainable performance,” he comments.

“Having different people from different backgrounds looking at a problem differently from one another is what makes the working collaboration richer and it helps ensure that we have looked at a problem from every possible angle. This ultimately drives performance.”

“We fundamentally believe that people shouldn’t be judged on their background, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other characteristics. They should be valued on their own merit, for who they are, nothing more, nothing less and this is the culture we want to have within our team.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t the same throughout every part of society but if everyone acknowledges that something needs to be done and those who can take action, we can engage issues directly to create meaningful, lasting change.

“We have a big voice as a sporting entity and we want to go racing in the right way and with our whole selves. We have a responsibility to our people, our fans and our global audience to standup for our beliefs. This is who we are as a team and it’s an integral part of our DNA.”

Continuing, Richard explains that although the tides are changing, there is still work to be done and that motorsport is still only at the start of its journey towards a better, more inclusive future.

“Since Racing Pride’s formation, we’re getting to a point where motorsport is having conversations about LGBTQ+ inclusion which is a cause that we can all represent,” adds Richard.

“What ROKiT Venturi Racing is doing is an integral part of that but there’s still plenty we can do together. It’s great to see people being leaders in this field and championing their inclusive values but it’s hugely important that this movement is about the power of the collective and we need more teams, organisations, series, and individuals to all play their part so we can create an inclusive environment across the whole sport and to embed inclusive values into everyday inclusive practices and actions.

“That’s why we need to keep creating and embracing opportunities to spark conversations around LGBTQ+ inclusion, and to display visible allyship.

“In the long term, what we want to create through all the work we’re doing with our ambassadors and partners is a positive culture across the sport and its associated industries, and among fans too, in which people know, from the outset, that they can be themselves and that they will belong.”