Hi Herd, my name is Justin Darracott. I'm a dressage rider and trainer based out of Wisconsin with Olympic dreams. I am also a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I have been very fortunate that my experience of being gay in the equestrian world is super blissful! And while I know that is not everyone's experience, I have felt truly excepted in this sport. What I love about the sport of dressage is that we are judged on our performance not on our looks, race or sexuality.
Coming out gay in my teenage years was very difficult for me. In fact, I may have been the last to know I was gay! I remember working at horse shows and being very curious about the gay men the shows attracted. They were fun, outgoing, and always had a ton of friends. It took me some time to come to terms with my sexuality. I remember being in complete denial. It sounds silly but I would pray at night that one day they would make a pill that would make me straight. At this time I just wanted to be “normal.” I always dreamed of having a beautiful wife and the most amazing family, and living a simple common life. With a little help from all of the barn moms I was able to learn to be proud of who I am. These incredible ladies would always say things like “Be your best self” or “Always feel comfortable in your own skin.” Not once ever asking me or saying the word gay.
In general I am a very sensitive person. Although I’m not sure I can blame that on being gay, I can say being sensitive is very hard in the equestrian sport. I sometimes ask myself “How can I be so sensitive, when I pay a judge to judge me?” This definitely effects the way I run my training business in the sense of I do not like confrontation or hurting other peoples feelings. It also creates challenges with dating. In this industry, we work, work and work some more as all of you know. It’s hard to date a guy who isn’t in the equestrian world that can relate or understand. However, my attempts at dating someone in the industry did not go well either. At this point in all of our lives most of us have huge goals and aspirations with our riding careers. In my experience this changes the dynamic of a relationship when you both are fighting to get to the top making things a bit cut throat and competitive, the opposite of what I feel a relationship should be.