Jeff Gordon is the center of a gay rumor emanating from a satirical sports website, but many believe the hoax may be intended to make fun of NASCAR fans rather than the sport’s most popular driver.
The story that Jeff Gordon is gay and in a relationship with fellow driver (and openly gay athlete) Stephen Rhodes originated from a site called Empire Sports. The report claimed that Gordon and Rhodes were ready to come clean about their ongoing relationship,stating:
As if the sports world didn’t have enough people coming out of the closet. A highly respected member of the NASCAR community has come out and admitted he is in a relationship with a fellow openly gay NASCAR member. Jeff Gordon who is going through a divorce said that he is now dating openly gay driver Stephen Rhodes. Gordon joins a list of male athletes who are new to the openly gay sports world.
But from there the story appeared to take aim at NASCAR fans, painting them as intolerant bigots.
“There ain’t no room for that queer crap in NASCAR. This is a man sport that only straight men should be doing,” the story quoted Billy-Bob Benson, a former Jeff Gordon fan. “These queers need to go back and pray that god forgives them for the choice they made. If they wanna be gay go be a fashion designer and not ruin the greatest sport in the world!”
The report went on to add that the news of Jeff Gordon coming out “has sparked a firestorm in the southern states where the rednecks tend to live.”
While the report itself has been widely dismissed as a hoax, many are angry at the tone toward NASCAR followers. Some of those took to Twitter to defend Jeff Gordon, while others took issue with the fictional fan Billy-Bob Benson, including a fake Joey Logano account.
@Sisie24 Billy Bob Benson? That’s the fakest article I’ve ever read…
— Joey Logano 22 (@JoeyLogano22_) March 26, 2014
Jeff Gordon himself has been quiet about the gay reports.