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NASCAR and MotorSports – From a Queer Perspective

NASCAR’s Cope Twins Take a Stand for Equality

credit Adam Bouska

Angela and Amber Cope made history last October when they became the first twins to race side by side in one of NASCAR‘s top national series: the Camping World Truck Series Race in Martinsville, VA.  Recently they made history again by becoming the first drivers in NASCAR to participate in the NOH8 campaign.

The NOH8 Campaign is a photographic silent protest created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in direct response to the passage of Proposition 8 in California. (Prop 8 outlawed same sex marriage)  The photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8, with “NOH8″ painted on one cheek in protest.  Their overall goal is to secure marriage equality for Lesbian and Gay Americans.

Three years since its inception, the NOH8 Campaign has grown to over 8,000 faces and continues to grow. The campaign began with portraits of everyday Californians from all walks of life and soon rose to include politicians, military personnel, newlyweds, law enforcement, artists, celebrities and now NASCAR drivers.

The pictures were taken last fall shortly after the twin’s Martinsville debut.  Amber Cope said, “The experience at the photo shoot was soo much fun! It was very laid back and free spirited, it was just about letting loose and being  yourself!   We would say this was definitely one of our favorite photo shoots we have ever done.”

I spoke with the NOH8 Campaign’s  co-founder Jeff Parshley who, as NASCAR fan, was excited to get a driver on board. “We are excited anytime anyone wants to publicly come fourth and support equality. For the Cope Twins it’s a bit stronger because there is a stigma in the south and in the sports world about LGBT anything,” said Parshley. “So for the Cope Twins to be the first people to break that mold in the NASCAR world meant a lot to us. Its always tough to be the first but they were happy to do so.”

I asked Angela and Amber if they ever feared that their participation in this campaign might cost them fans or sponsors.  “No, we certainly would never think it would cost us fans or sponsorships. We are professional race car drivers. We act professionally at all times, especially to and for our sponsors. Our fans are very important to us therefore we always try to take the time to answer all of our fan mail, stop and give autographs, and just let the fans know we care. We feel that life is precious and we all only get one chance, therefore it is very important for everyone to be less hateful, less judgmental, and less discriminating.”

The Cope Twins have been fighting for their own equality at the race track for years.  “We were told, ever since we could remember, by many, that we would never be running in NASCAR, amongst the male drivers. We were told that Nascar is no place for women, especially women like us.  The majority of our life has always been about us showing that we are equal to our peers.  We deserve to be on that track behind the wheel and we will continue to fight our way… to show America that we will be among the top in our field.”

In the end, say the twins, “It is about treating everyone equally, regardless of religion, race, or sexual orientation.  We were not originally aware of NOH8, however when we were asked to do it, we were pleased and honored to be apart of something that very well could bring more love to more peoples’ lives.”

While the Cope twins are the first from NASCAR to participate – athletes are no strangers to the NOH8 campaign.  Among them are:  Basketball legend Isaiah Thomas and his son Zeke former San Diego Charger – Antonio Cromartie, Wrestler Hudson Taylor and Pro Soccer player for the Houston Dynamo’s – Mike Chabala.

One of the most surprising people who has posed for a NOH8 photo was Cindy McCain – wife of US Senator and former Presidential Candidate John McCain.  Their daughter Megan also stood for her own picture.

As for matters on the track – the twins said they are working hard to secure sponsorship.  “We are currently working out the details with our sponsor and potential sponsors for the 2011 race season. We hope to be able to announce our 2011 race schedule soon and we are very anxious to get back out on that track.”

When they are not busy securing sponsorships the girls keep themselves busy with their website Pink Candy Boutique – where they feature and sell clothing in the latest styles, fun and fashionable accessories, plus a variety of handbags to help ensure “that each woman who shops with Pink Candy Boutique take our fashions home and feel beautiful wearing them.”

Their busy schedule does not end with race cars and fashion.   The twins are also in talks to star in a reality show.  “We were out in LA in February and we are in conversations right now to potentially do a  reality show. We are very excited about it, we are excited to possibly take the world on our journey.”

To learn more about the NOH8 campaign and see thousands of photos visit:   http://www.noh8campaign.com/

You can keep up to date with Angela and Amber on their website:  www.twinmotorsportsracing.com
Follow the Cope Twins on Twitter and you can “like” them on Facebook.
Or visit their online boutique:   www.pinkcandyboutique.com

Category: gay, NASCAR