Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One driver, has received widespread praise for showing his support for the LGBTI community during a practise session for the Qatar Grand Prix on Friday.
The Pride Progress Flag, a redesigned and more inclusive version of the traditional rainbow flag, was emblazoned on Hamilton’s helmet, along with the words “We Stand Together.”
Additional black and brown stripes, as well as pink and blue stripes for the trans flag and a purple circle on a yellow background for the intersex flag, are used to emphasise the oppression of people of colour.
Despite the fact that American artist Daniel Quasar designed the Pride Progress Flag in 2018, it was British intersex activist and columnist Valentino Vecchietti who finalised the version seen on Hamilton’s helmet, which includes the intersex flag.
“It means everything,” Vecchietti told CNN. “I can’t express what an amazing, massive, massive thing Lewis Hamilton has done. And I feel emotional talking about it, because we are so hidden and stigmatized as a population.”
Up to 1.7 percent of the global population is intersex or lacks sex characteristics that conform to “typical binary notions of male and female,” according to the United Nations’ Free and Equal campaign.
Vecchietti said Hamilton’s gesture would also raise awareness of the vilification of intersex athletes like Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand in sport, highlighting the erasure of intersex people both within the LGBT+ movement and in society as a whole.
“We have to remember that young kids with intersex variations growing up in school see all these media,” she said. “As an intersex person myself, at school, I grew up with so much stigma and shame and feeling I had to keep it hidden … Lewis Hamilton has done something amazing. He’s given me a platform to begin these conversations on a much larger scale.”
The flag was designed by Vecchietti, the founder of Intersex Equality Rights UK, with the help of Stonewall and the LGBT Consortium, and it quickly went viral after being shared on social media in May.
Hamilton’s decision to wear the flag on his helmet coincides with the end of Trans Awareness Week and the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which falls on Saturday.