Equestrians Ride with Pride
In our sport, being a part of the LGBTQ community is not an exception...
Affirming its support for Pride Month, the FEI has joined the global movement that celebrates diversity, promotes equality and acknowledges the impact of LGBTQ+ individuals in various spheres, including equestrian sports.
During the month-long celebration, the FEI will engage in a series of online activities to further promote understanding, acceptance, and respect for LGBTQ+ members of the equestrian community.
Pride Month, celebrated annually in June, was created to honour the LGBTQ+ community’s struggle for equality and to promote visibility, acceptance, and love for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Blyth Tait, the Olympic and World Equestrian Games gold medallist, told us why he thinks equestrianism attracts such a diversity of people.
The New Zealander said: “I think because the people attracted to equestrianism are great people, they understand the challenges of training and competing with horses and generally respect and admire those who show empathy for all.
“There has always been a level playing field for all genders. I think it is still one of very few sports where men and woman compete together, have no advantage and as such blend happily.”
Kevin van Ham, the Belgian Paralympian, added: “I think equestrian athletes can be such a positive influence for young people, and that’s something I embrace. Being a role model for other people is very important. I very much like to help people find their path in life or with their search to discover who they are inside.”
There are no gender-based biological advantages to competing in equestrian sport. Success on the field-of-play is largely determined by the unique bond between both human and equine athletes and refined communication between the two. Aside from Vaulting, which has gendered competitions, the FEI disciplines of Jumping, Dressage, Para Dressage, Eventing, Endurance, Driving and Para Driving have male and female athletes competing as equals, at all levels.
Sabrina Ibáñez, the FEI’s Secretary General, said: “We have many high-profile athletes from the LGBTQ+ community who live their lives openly and who are role models for the younger members still finding their way. In our sport, being a part of the LGBTQ community is not an exception.
“As a community, we may have taken this openness on the field-of-play for granted over the years. Unfortunately, equestrian athletes do not always experience this same level of acceptance in areas of their life outside of the sport.”
Ibáñez added: “The FEI has been continuously evolving in its understanding and approach to issues affecting inclusion. Pride Month is a time for unity and celebration, while also recognising the work that remains to be done.”
The International Federation’s website and social media channels have adopted the colours of the Progress Pride flag, which was developed in 2018 by non-binary American artist and designer Daniel Quasar. Based on the iconic rainbow flag from 1978, the redesign celebrates the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and calls for a more inclusive society.
A deliberate choice by the FEI, the inclusion of black and brown in the Progress Pride flag, represents LGBTQ+ communities of colour and provides a visual symbol that embraces a broader range of identities, cultures and races.
Check out our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Hub here.
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