Zack Leader, a 19-year-old British man from Lincolnshire, took the opportunity of the New Year to come out as gay.
Zack is a gravity bike racer. Gravity bike racing is a form of racing that relies on competitors riding pedal-less bikes down hills. Its popularity has increased in the last couple of decades.
Zack won British Evo Gravity Bike Championships in 2016 and 2017. By day, he’s a student at University of Lincoln. His ambition is to progress through the ranks of motorsport into the British Superbike Championship.
‘No more hiding, no more lies’
He posted about his sexuality on his Facebook and Instagram, reports Outsports.
‘So 2018 is finally here and for about six months now, this is how I wanted to start the new year. A fresh start. No more hiding, no more lies, no more fannying around!
‘To some of you this won’t be news or anything new but to a lot of you, I imagine it won’t have even crossed your mind. Some of you may have thought about it I imagine.
‘What I’m trying to do is come out and say I’m gay.
‘I haven’t come out properly until now because of a mixture of things. I’ve been a bit nervous to come out because of the general reaction to it and not knowing if people would accept it or not. A lot of it has been because I’ve not been ready to whereas now I know I am.
‘However, the main reason I haven’t come out until now is because of racing.
‘Known I was gay from a very young age’
‘I’ve known I was gay from a very young age, somewhere between 8 to 11 years old. I’ve had a love of racing and bikes since I was 9 years old and have been in and around the paddocks since I was 12 years old.
‘As many of you know, it’s been a dream of mine since I first went to Cadwell Park for BSB in 2008 to be a motorcycle racer and to become the British Superbike champion. It still is.
‘In all the time I’ve grown up in motorcycle racing, I’ve never seen a openly gay racer, and I’ve always wondered if there was a reason for that.
‘I’ve always thought there may be a few reasons. One being that motorcycle racing, or racing in general, is perceived to be a very macho and masculine sport and so a gay rider may not be as openly accepted as we like.
‘I’ve always worried that people would look at me differently’
‘There’s never been an openly gay motorcycle champion, maybe due to politics and society’s norms I don’t know but it’s something I hope we all want to see in the future.
‘I’ve spent a lot more time in paddocks in recent seasons but this issue has never come up, I’ve never known if the paddocks would accept a gay rider. I guess I’ll find out soon!
‘I’ve always worried that people would look at me differently and so wouldn’t accept me into paddocks. I’ve always worried this would hinder me from getting sponsors and maybe even signed by teams in the future; that team managers wouldn’t want the hassle and so wouldn’t bother, regardless of how good I may be.
‘Obviously I’ll find all this out in good time but I really hope everyone both in general life and racing life accepts me for who I am.
‘This is a purely personal decision to come out but maybe if there are other LGBT racers in British paddocks then it may help them to find themselves and consider coming out too, or find the confidence to talk about it. I’m always happy to talk to anybody about it.
‘I’m a man on a mission’
‘Maybe one day we may see more racers happy and confident to come out as a member of the LGBT community!
‘If anyone isn’t too comfortable with me coming out then please don’t hesitate to message me and talk to me about it, I’m no different in any way! I’m still the same crazy, smiling nutter you all know.’
He went on to say, ‘I’m a man on a mission. I’m going to be the first openly gay BGBC champion and then one day I’m going to Britain’s one of Britain’s first openly gay national motorcycle champions and the ultimate goal is to be THE FIRST EVER OPENLY GAY BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPION. And mark my words, I’ll get there if it’s the last thing I do!’
He says he wants to be an ambassador for the LGBT community in the racing arena. He is also currently single.
‘I don’t currently have that special guy in my life to share everything with and to share my journey to glory with at the moment but you never know what the new year may bring!’
Talking to Motorsport Radio on Friday, he said the reaction to his announcement had been ‘brilliant’.
He elaborated further to GSN.
‘The reaction started off brilliantly from my friends and family on Facebook and social media, and since media coverage there have been a few negative comments but I was prepared to receive some so I’ve just laughed off most of them!
‘I’m just looking forward to start racing again for the 2018 season, it’s pretty obvious I can now talk a good game but I’ve now got to remind people I can walk the walk too.
‘I’m looking forward to getting back to winning ways. In terms of the reaction, I guess you could say I’ve now seen the good, the bad, and the ugly!’