It was 1996 when the owner of Queers4Gears.com, Michael Myers, revealed that he was gay.
There was no fumbling around or second guessing, no soul searching or thoughts of going through a phase. In Chicago on business, the solution of revealing himself hit, and it wasn’t a shock, either. He had always known, yet those closest to him were in the dark.
He had always been afraid.
“[My family and friends] had no idea, so there was surprise. They said, ‘Okay, we accept you. As long as you’re happy.’ The reaction I always feared never happened.”
Myers has since embraced his sexuality and brought an interesting spin to NASCAR writing. With race recaps coyly called ‘Gaynalysis’ and a refreshing sense of humor, it’s definitely something special.
Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, his love for the sport was acquired when he received free tickets to Charlotte in 1998. By the end of the season, he was hooked. “I wasn’t a fan when I was younger. Nobody in my family was into it. I really wish I had been…I got those tickets, and everything changed.”
It wasn’t until 2009 when he began writing about the sport. Myers studied Broadcasting and Communications at Appalachian State in North Carolina, and he was itching for a creative outlet not related to his day job.
“I thought I was the only gay NASCAR fan. I started writing articles about racing and me going to classic car shows…and the NASCAR articles got the most hits. I focused on that, and it started to get lots of traffic.
“I applied for NASCAR credentials in 2010 for the first time, and I thought they would shoot me down. But I got them [for Fontana]. I figured they only gave me credentials to avoid a riot from gay rights activists,” Myers joked. “But, when I got there, everyone was so welcoming…there were three people that really helped me, and they were Ryan McGee, Lee Spencer, and Jeff Gluck. NASCAR has been universally accepting.”
The next year brought his broadcasting skills into play when he began to record podcasts. He also reached out on Twitter and started to express his catty sense of humor.
Outgrowing any success he ever fathomed, the site became a home for gay fans that thought they were alone. They “profusely” thank him for what he’s done, raising awareness in a unique way.
However, there has been some negative feedback. “If you looks at the comments [on my site], you’ll see some people say, ‘We don’t need no queers in NASCAR.’ There will always be those sorts of people. They won’t ever go away.”
Though he was never blasted by his loved ones for being gay, all Myers knew about homosexuality was also negative. His one regret, not coming out in his younger years, is fueled by never having a role model who was brave enough to declare their sexuality publicly. Now, athletes, actors, and political icons are using their fame as a platform. “I feel like that helps younger people who may be struggling. I’m happy it does, because I never had that.
A feature on last week’s Race Hub on SPEED highlighted that boldness; former NCWTS driver Stephen Rhodes was the first openly gay NASCAR driver and, after leaving the sport for a while, is looking to return to the series next year. Myers had nothing but positive praise on the subject.
“People need to see that NASCAR doesn’t care [about sexual orientation]. Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards both have basically said, ‘If you can race…if you are a good racecar driver, you can be here.’”
While NASCAR has been very open minded on the subject, the part-time writer is still pushing for change. “I would like to see The NASCAR Foundation and individual driver foundations do stuff with HIV/AIDS research…also, I want to see the word ‘gay’ or ‘LGBT’ included in the Drive for Diversity. That’s a key factor.”
It has been four years since he started his blog, and Myers never thought he would alter fans’ thoughts on gay people and the idea of there being a gay NASCAR driver. Though “not an activist,” he is honored to have made an impact.
“There are almost as many misconceptions about NASCAR and its fans as there are about gay people. I guess I’m changing that perspective. My number one rule is to be funny. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves. I think letting my personality shine through has made a difference in what people think.”
Seventeen years ago, Michael Myers became brave enough to come out to his family and friends. Fifteen years ago, Michael Myers became a NASCAR fan.
Now, Queers4Gears.com is becoming a site that is leaving an impressive mark in the sport, a mark that is constantly evolving and constantly pushing for progress.