BY JESS CLAWSON
This Pride Month project of having queer equestrian conversations has been a special experience, and one that I hope readers are carrying on in their own communities too. One person I’ve been lucky to become acquainted with in this process is Kaitlyn Boggio, a 25 year old professional. She is currently the assistant trainer at Rendez-Vous Farm in Ashford, Connecticut. They specialize in hunter/jumpers and her responsibilities primarily involve showing client and sale horses. Boggio identifies as a lesbian, and shared her experience and insight.
Are you out to the horse community? If so, in what ways do you think it’s impacted your life in the horse world?
I started coming out to close friends my sophomore year of college, and then to most people in my senior year. It has definitely impacted my life in the horse world. When I was first coming out, I was also trying to establish myself as a professional in the industry. As I was meeting with trainers and looking for ways to build my reputation, I found myself trying to hide my sexuality. New environments are daunting without having to explain yourself to clients or bosses, and I did not want to be perceived negatively. I was very cautious with how I portrayed myself.
As I became more comfortable, with both myself and in the industry,I realized I was hindering my ability to maintain relationships by hiding who I really was. I wasn’t able to fully represent myself and my talents by closing off such a huge portion of my life. After years of accepting myself and trying to surround myself with people who are supportive–who are really just regular people–I have finally found myself in an environment in which I not only feel comfortable, but where I feel I belong.
Do you have a community of other queer horse people around?
The barn I work for currently is very accepting of others’ identities, which is obviously important anywhere, but that means it is a great place for the younger community. I have been very lucky to have made so many friends– both in and out of the gay community– that love and accept me for who I am.
What do you want to see change in the horse world around queer identities?
So many people believe that the LGBTQ community is openly accepted in the horse world simply because it seems to be so prevalent. I do not have a lot of experience with identities other than mine, but I have found that generalized statement to be untrue. Many people accept that there are queers in the horse industry in theory, but in practice, when face-to-face with LGBTQ people, they become uncomfortable.
I have had many people say disheartening or insulting statements, mostly along the lines of corrupting youth or hindering the ability of others to learn by being distracting. However ludicrous that may seem, it is unfortunately a reality for many LGBTQ people around the world. I am lucky to be part of an accepting community and an accepting sport, but others are definitely not as lucky.
Most of the time people are simply just uneducated or have become accustomed to homophobia. The equestrian community is a great one, and we can change the sport to be more accepting by listening, sharing positivity, and trying to educate ourselves further on how to be a supportive member of the community.
What is the best thing about being a queer equestrian?
The thing I most enjoy about being a queer equestrian is that I can connect with and support people of all ages and in any stage of riding. I am available in and out of the saddle to give advice, help others understand, or simply listen to other members of our community. I am proud to be an equestrian!
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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