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A jockey comes out: thoroughbred racehorse jockey and actor Kevin Mangolo takes a stand among the straight "cowboys" of the racing world.

When I was first asked to write a piece for The Advocate about being a bisexual jockey in the overwhelmingly straight world of horse racing, I couldn't decide whether I should do it. Let's face it, the "W" era is not so enlightened that we always feel comfortable sharing who we are openly. I don't feel the need to hide that I am bisexual out of shame, but rather out of fear that others won't approve--not that they won't understand but that they won't approve.

I felt like I was at an important crossroads in my life. So I made two lists, one of pros and one of cons. Both quickly became lengthy. Con: Trainers could stop putting me on their horses, ending my racing career. Pro: I would rather live my life openly and truthfully. Con: My acting career could suffer. Pro: I could make a lot of new friends who like me for who I am rather than for who they think I am. Con: I could lose a lot of friends who don't approve. And so on.

Considering these things in the midst of the holidays, the disastrous tsunami, and the war in Iraq, I found myself thinking, How ridiculous is it that I'm struggling so much with a decision of such little importance? As long as nobody is getting hurt, does it still matter today who we fall in love with?

I finally decided that I needed to tell the world that there are, in fact, gay jockeys who are still riding. And I am one of them.

Being a gay sportsman is no different than being a straight sportsman. Sexuality doesn't come up when you're focused on winning. Jockeys are very competitive, very aggressive. When I am in the jockeys' room, my mind is on the next race. I don't think about sexuality. It's no different from straight men who work with women in the office without being preoccupied by the girl in the next cubicle. I think many people define us GLBT people by our sexuality rather than just understanding that it's only one picture in the collage of who we are.

The racing world is made up mostly of cowboys. Up to now, I could only imagine the abuse an openly gay rider would get in the jocks' room. I didn't know if such a person would be allowed. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

When I was a kid I remember thinking that famous gay people had a responsibility to be honest with the public. Being gay can really be lonely. To see a gay rock star, athlete, or movie star proud to be who they are can really help you feel like you're not the only one. I have been bisexual my whole life and I've always known it. I was bisexual when I was student body president in high school. I was bisexual when I was a California state champion wrestler. I was bisexual when I was admitted to the film school at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles--and throughout my entire acting career, consisting of music videos, several sitcoms, commercials, a Broadway tour, and recently the hit movie Seabiscuit.

And now I am a bisexual thoroughbred racehorse jockey.

I point out all of this for anybody who may feel alone or that they can't accomplish what they dream about because they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

I have made mistakes in my life. I have made decisions that I am not proud of. I am sure, however, that those mistakes and decisions have led me to where I am now. Whatever the outcome of my decision to come out, I am very proud of who I turned out to be. I am very proud of what I have accomplished so far in my life and very proud to be able to say that I am capable of falling in love with a person regardless of gender.

To contact Mangold, click on LINKS at www.advocate.com.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports & Fitness
Author:Mangold, Kevin
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 15, 2005
Words:670
Previous Article:The games behind the games: will gay and lesbian athletes flock to Chicago's Gay Games VII in 2006 or to Montreal's RendezVous 2006 a week later?...
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