Le Mans 24 Hours racing legend Hurley Haywood comes out as gay
Racing legend and three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Hurley Haywood has come out as gay.
Haywood, now aged 69, is a legendary endurance racing champ who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans across three decades – in 1977, 1983 and 1994.
The racing driver, whose sexuality had been an open secret within the sport circle for some time, publicly acknowledged he is gay ahead of his new autobiography.
Speaking to Autoweek he said: “I’ve always regarded my private life as just that – my private life.”
But ahead of the release of ‘Hurley: From the Beginning’, he explained that he had decided to make his sexuality known.
The racing veteran explained that he had been giving an interview to a high school student in 2012 when the boy broke down about his own sexuality.
Haywood recalled: “He was very professional. He sat down, started the interview, and he was asking some really good questions.
“But halfway through, he just stopped cold. And he said, ‘I have been bullied my entire life. Every morning when I wake up, I think about suicide. I have absolutely no respect for myself.’
“I said, ‘Listen, it’s not what you are, it’s who you are. That’s what people remember’.”
He added that the boy’s mother got in touch a year later.
“‘You don’t know me’, she said, ‘but you gave my son an interview about racing’… immediately I thought, ‘Oh, God. What’s happened?’ Then she said, ‘You saved my son’s life’.
“Hearing from that mother – well, it was very emotional. And I thought, if my voice is strong enough to help one kid, it might help two kids, or five or a hundred.”
He added: “When I grew up, life seemed simpler. Kids didn’t have all these distractions.
“Now, there’s so much more competition, so much more peer pressure. The suicide rate is just out of control. Bullying is out of control.
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“And the way our leaders talk — they’re bullies, too. It trickles down. We need more people to stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough’.
“The racing community has been extremely supportive. I’ve never not gotten a ride because I was gay.
“But what the outside world will think about it? I guess we’ll see.”
So far the outside world has been overwhelmingly supportive too, with many posting their support of the racer.
Outsports wrote: “We are so thankful to Haywood for talking about his personal life publicly, something we know he’s not super comfortable doing.
“But we at Outsports agree: If we can save a life — and we all can by sharing our true selves — it certainly makes it all worthwhile.”