Professional cyclist Clay Davies is criticizing his sport after he came out as gay.
The 29-year-old British cyclist and surveyor rides for the Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor team. And, Davies came out as gay in July through an interview with The British Continental. In that interview, Davies shares that he decided to come out after having a near-death experience.
“It took being knocked off my bike by a car nearly being killed, for me to come out. I broke both my arms and had my head crushed by the rear wheel of an Audi. That was my epiphany, the moment I decided to come out and tell people,” Davies shared. “But it shows how deeply in the closet I had been beforehand. I took quite literally nearly dying for me to reveal my sexuality. Basically, I thought, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to go and tell everyone now.’”
That said, the journey to coming out wasn’t a quick and easy one. Davies took seven to eight years after that event to come out publicly. While he’s been out to friends for years, he held off with announcing his sexuality to the public. He did so because he worried about how fellow cyclists would react to the info.
“I think there’s this perception – whether it’s true or not, and I think it is to some degree –that serious amateur cyclists, pro cyclists, semi-pro, elite riders, whatever, are quite a funny bunch,” Clay Davies explained. “That they’re not quite as socially dynamic as others, that there’s a bit of a closed mindset, a not-quite-as-worldly type of approach. That they might behave strangely if they knew you were gay.”
And now, in a recent interview with the Quicklink daily cycling podcast, Davies shares that there was some pushback from his cycling peers. That’s despite the general response being “entirely positive.”
One message from an amateur cycling team manager said that he didn’t get the “fashion of people coming out all the time.” Davies also noted how British Cycling, the organization in charge of cycling in the country, has yet to reach out to him.
“It’s shocking, to be honest, that British Cycling (BC) haven’t reached out to me directly. It’s been three weeks now,” he said. “How hard it is for BC to do that? They’ve got my contact details. My name’s not exactly difficult to find, is it? How hard is it for them to send me a one-liner to say, ‘Yes we’ve read it, yes we’re on it, we will get back in touch if we need anything from you’? But, not had a thing.”
When asked what BC could do to support him and LGBTQ cyclists who have yet to come out, Davies shared a dim view.
“My view is we’re starting from pretty low baseline of understanding with BC,” Clay Davies answered honestly. “They’re 10 years in the past. Probably more, to be brutally honest. I think it’s all about the management there, understanding what the issue is properly with the right quality of staff dare I say it. Then them getting a plan of action in place.”
Despite how he feels about BC and how its handled LGBTQ athletes, Clay Davies is hopeful for the future of LGBTQ athletes. Part of that’s due to the love and acceptance he received from fans of cycling.
He shared, “The day of it going live, my phone did not stop pinging […] and it didn’t really stop for four days […] People from all walks of life, cyclists, non-cyclists, all over the world. It’s been fantastic.”