This is the seventh in a series of articles profiling known out and proud Olympic athletes who are openly LGBT. The New Civil Rights Movement will publish one article each day as we move into the London 2012 Olympics.
For the London 2012 Olympics, the Dutch Equestrian Dressage team have placed their hopes in 42-year old out Olympic athlete Edward Gal. As winner of three gold medals at the 2010 Dressage World Championships, their faith appears to be entirely justified. Dressage, sometimes referred to as “Horse Ballet,” is among the more unique Olympic events. Horse and rider come together as one instrument, flawlessly executing their prescribed movements with grace and precision.
Dressage dates back to the renaissance, and the techniques used in training date largely from the masters of that period. As equestrians are the only Olympic athletes whose teammates are non-human mammals, nothing is more important than the relationship between rider and horse. Gal got his start as a jumper, but after discovering that his horse didn’t care for jumping, switched to Dressage. He did well in the sport but didn’t truly shine until partnering with his most recent mount, Toto. Together they are enjoying the sort of symbiotic partnership few riders enjoy. With the Dutch bringing home a Gold in the 2008 olympic Individual Dressage, expectations are high.
Edward Gal and teammate Hans Peter Minderhoud are in a long term relationship, and are something of a celebrity couple in the world of Dressage. For the most part, the question of their sexuality is an afterthought. They are partners and competitors, and they share an intense passion for the sport. The Netherlands enjoys the distinction of being the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage, and out public figures like Edward Gal are commonplace. If he should display the same grace and poise at the Olympics that he and Minderhoud demonstrate as out public figures, I would expect them to do quite well in London.
Image, top,by Roland Hitze
Follow our series: “2012 Olympics: Who Are The LGBT Athletes?” as we profile all the out LGBT athletes playing in the London 2012 Olympic games.
Benjamin Phillips is a Humor Writer, Web Developer, Civics Nerd, and all around crank that spends entirely too much time shouting with deep exasperation at the television, especially whenever cable news is on. He lives in St. Louis, MO and spends most of his time staring at various LCD screens, occasionally taking walks in the park whenever his boyfriend becomes sufficiently convinced that Benjamin is becoming a reclusive hermit person. He is available for children’s parties, provided that those children are entertained by hearing a complete windbag talk for two hours about the importance of science education, or worse yet, poorly researched anecdotes PROVING that James Buchanan was totally gay. If civilization were to collapse due to zombie hoards or nuclear holocaust, Benjamin would be among the first to die as he has no useful skills of any kind. The post-apocalyptic hellscape has no real need for homosexual computer programmers who can name all the presidents in order, as well as the actors who have played all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who.
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