We never thought we'd see this kind of drag race offer up Pride merch, but against all odds, NASCAR is coming around the bend. On Wednesday, the league announced a line of rainbow t-shirts in support of the LGBTQ+ community, some featuring "Yaaascar” and “Love Wins” emblazoned across the chest.
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The release follows a tweet from earlier this month affirming Nascar’s commitment to inclusivity, which was posted just a little over a week after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott waved the green flag at the NASCAR All-Star Race. The tweet also included an apology for “recent actions'' that “have not aligned with NASCAR's mission to be a welcoming sport for all.”
In Februrary 2022, Abbott ordered Texas officials to investigate allegations of child abuse against parents of transgender children receiving gender-affirming care. Responding to questions about the tweet to Fox Sports, NASCAR President Steve Phelps did not reference a specific incident, though reiterated: “Generally, we as a sport haven’t been as welcoming and inclusive to the LGBTQ community. And we want to be.”
\u201cAs we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, we acknowledge that recent actions have not aligned with NASCAR\u2019s mission to be a welcoming sport for all. \n\nWe remain steadfast in our commitment to create a more inclusive environment -- in our workplaces, at the race track & in the stands.\u201d— NASCAR (@NASCAR) 1654096203
Of course, the "YASCAR" tweet generated a mixed online response from devout fans to average viewers to members of the LGBTQ+ community who have never tuned into a race in their lives.
Multiple NASCAR fans expressed disillusionment, with one user commenting “see ya” and another writing “no longer a fan of nascar after I saw this.” Further criticism came from users calling out NASCAR’s attempt to capitalize upon rather than support the LGBTQ+ community.
However, some were receptive to NASCAR’s push. One person wrote, “Normally I hate this super cynical pride crap, but NASCAR with its reputation coming out means a lot more than most.” In support, another user tweeted, “My hot take about the NASCAR Pride merch is that it's no better or worse than any other given corporation and actually reflects a consistent pattern of sincere efforts over the past decade to improve their culture and make it more welcoming to all fans and should be encouraged.”
It's worth noting that NASCAR’s emerging support of the LGBTQ+ community did not just begin on the first day of June. In January, NASCAR began a partnership for the 2022 season with an affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. NASCAR’s first diversity, equity and inclusion partner, the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce advocates change through training and education programs.
Alongside Alex Bowman’s car sporting LGBTQ+ logos that read “Better Together” and “ally” for the Toyota Save Mart 350 Race last weekend, NASCAR continues efforts to race towards a more welcoming future.
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