Cars are something for straight men? The stereotype is long gone, by now there are several car clubs that are specifically for queer people. We introduce you to a few of these clubs and show achievements that would not have been possible without diversity.
*Short notice: Many sources are in German, sorry about that*
Year after year, Pride Month is the occasion for many companies to have their logos lit up in rainbow colors. Among them are also some businesses from the automotive industry such as BMW and Mercedes Benz. However, many comments under these posts show that this, presumably short-term logo change, is not well received by some fans. Whether this points to a structural problem in the mobility industry or simply indicates the typical negative behavior in the comments column should not and cannot be conclusively clarified at this point. This text wants to put the positive things in the spotlight.
European Gay Car of the Year
Yes, this award really exists. Since 2005, car enthusiasts from the French gay organization Ledorga have been voting for the gayest car on the European continent. In 2018, even the German Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé was able to claim the prize. But many other organizations also choose their favorites: this year, for example, the Subaru Forester is the car at the top of the ranking of the gaycarboys readership Top 10 Gay Lesbian LGBT Cars. There are also a number of queer car clubs in Germany, including the "Motorboys" automobile club, which claims to be the largest in Germany, and the "Queerlenker" classic car club.
The queer market
But it's not just private motor clubs that are focusing on the community; in many companies, interest in the LGBTQ+ market has also grown. For example, the first companies are participating in Christopher Street Day (CSD). "We drive proud" is VW's slogan; in 2019, the Lower Saxony-based company participated in CSD for the first time, relying on its corporate principle "We live diversity.” (German: “Wir leben Vielfalt.”) Another positive sign is that German automotive companies such as BMW are at the forefront of the Diversity Index. The Index shows how the surveyed DAX companies are committed to a diverse corporate culture that is open to LGBT+ employees. Even though diversity is a big topic, there is also the fact that the LGBT market in Germany made up circa 7.5 percent of the population in 2016. So, the community is also economically interesting from the companies point of view, which has also increased the marketing actions of some firms in this direction.
Visible and proud
Despite the positive development, the engineering profession, with its highly heteronormative culture, tends to be characterized by conservatism. Thus, women, ethnic minorities, or those who feel they belong to the LGBTQ+ community are often not visible.
But many of them do not want to accept this. For example, there are now a number of groups that are campaigning for greater external awareness. For example, employees at Porsche founded Proud@Porsche, and VW also wants to draw attention to the company's diversity with its #OutAtWork campaign.
A rainbow automotive future?
Nevertheless, even though many signs point to progress, general surveys show that it is not yet a matter of course everywhere. According to a study, one in four people, who belong to the community, still hide their LGBTI affiliation in the workplace today.
The automotive industry is definitely on the right track, although this seems relatively easy to make larger strides than other industries given the much more conservative structures that used to exist. Somewhat sarcastically, lesbian U.S. host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres sums up her opinion:
„Do we have to know about who‘s gay and who's straight? Can't we just love everybody and judge them by the car they drive?”.
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