Trailblazing gay couple to compete side-by-side in team dressage at Tokyo Olympics

A gay Dutch couple, Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud, will compete side-by-side in a team dressage event at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Gal and Minderhoud will be representing the Netherlands in the equestrian sport of dressage, a highly stylised form of riding originally developed by the cavalry in the 17th century.

The two veterans are familiar faces at the Olympics, having competed together at the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro where they won fourth place in the team dressage event, and at the 2014 World Championships, where they got the bronze.

Individually the two men each have an Olympic medal: silver for Minderhoud in 2008 and bronze for Gal in 2012.

“Competitions are a way of life and it is so much fun if you are with someone who precisely understands that and knows what you are doing, dedicating all your time to horses,” Minderhoud said, according to OutSports.

Gal and Minderhoud have been together for more than a decade and have long been open about their relationship. “We only need one hotel room now,” joked Gal in a 2008 interview about how they were travelling together to events.

Their sport, which mixes skill with artistic flair, is known for being particularly LGBT-friendly; many of the world’s best equestrians, including Robert Dover, Blyth Tait and Carl Hester, are openly gay.

“In our sport it’s not an exception being gay,” Minderhoud previously told FEI.

“I think because the people attracted to equestrianism are great people,” Tait suggested. “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 women compete together, have no advantage and as such blend happily.”

Marlies van Baalen will join Gal and Minderhoud as the third person on the Dutch dressage team.