Jacopo Guarnieri intended to send a "silent but not silent message" by wearing a trans rights wristband during Groupama-FDJ's team presentation at the Grande Partenza of the Giro d'Italia in Hungary.
In doing so, the Italian rider challenged the Hungarian government's anti-LGBT laws. In 2020, a law was passed prohibiting transgender people from legally changing their gender, while last year, the country's ministers voted to ban the sharing of content to minors which depicts any kind of LGBT representation.
Speaking to reporters on Monday during the first rest day of the Giro, Guarnieri said he had thought for a while about how to show support for the LGBT community during the race.
“Basically, this was a topic in my mind for a long time because, as you all know, the law was approved in Hungary in the middle of 2021," Guarnieri said. "I spoke about it already in December with Attila Valter, and I asked him how the feeling was in the country and so on. It was my idea already a long time ago.
“In the beginning, I was thinking to have something with the rainbow flag on it. But coincidentally, two weeks before leaving for the Giro, a friend of mine came up with this bracelet, which is more of a trans flag.
“It was perfect because I didn’t really know what kind of support to give, and it was as simple as that. The bracelet was easy to put on. So I decided to do it during the presentation while on stage, it was kind of silent, but not a silent message.”
The 34-year-old continued, suggesting the safety of the team presentation provided him with the perfect moment to extend this supportive gesture.
“We’re not superheroes but it was in a moment where, it’s not like you’re untouchable, but they cannot say anything in public for such a small thing, or against a foreigner, I think.
“I took the chance and the advantage that I was in a safer position. But I also thought maybe I could have pissed off somebody, not just thinking about the politicians but a member of the public, maybe in the time trial someone tries to punch me. A punch I can sustain, so why not.
“After all, it’s Europe. So let’s hope… in my mind, I was hoping I could pass on the message without taking too much risk.”
Guarnieri said he received plenty of support on social media for his protest, despite not hearing any reactions from his fellow riders or race organisers, RCS. Regardless, the Groupama-FDJ rider simply wanted to share support for LGBT people, without attempting to act like an expert on the issue in Hungary.
“Not everything can be brought into the discussion but for sure, I’m a person too after all," he said. "Let’s say, we’re not experts on international policy so I try to be more positive, I don’t have a solution for what Hungary can do for transexual people, I can just share my support and share a positive vibe. That’s me, simple as that.”
He also isn't sure whether racing in Hungary for the opening three stages of the Giro was correct, but he seemed proud to take the stance he did during the team presentation. For Guarnieri, he simply honoured his contract with his team while also supporting those marginalised in the country.
“I don’t know actually, it’s hard to say. There are many things involved, and things also came from three years ago, when the laws weren’t already in place. I’m not an organiser so I don’t know what’s behind those decisions.
“If I look on the other side, I can say I was there and I could show support while I was there. It’s hard to say, I think it’s a mix in between. Isolate and try to fight from the inside. It’s not my decision, like what you said before, try to be 100 percent honest with yourself, there are many places we shouldn’t go. It’s not easy.
“It’s a balance between fighting for what is right, and try to survive in your own job. It won’t be any easier. It’s not my role to decide what’s behind this but I can have my personal view. On some things, I think it was right to honour the contract, on the other hand maybe not."
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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