Is it harder to become a successful sportsperson if you’re a lesbian?
Being gay has not been a problem at all. Though when I first started out I was terrified that it would be.
Right at the beginning, when I was about 17, I began to enter competitions around the country and in France. I didn’t really know anyone, and I was worried about what people would think of me. I ended up going on a women-only coaching night, where I met the other girls. I found that they were all pretty cool, didn’t mind that I was gay, and that we had loads in common. In the end I spent two seasons in France with them.
Almost exactly the same thing happened with my sponsorship, which is something you have to think about when you begin to make a name for yourself and start to win competitions. I wasn’t sure if I would have to keep my sexuality a secret to please them. But again, it turned out not to be a problem, they were interested in me for my snowboarding. They know what I’m like.
I’m different. I sometimes get mistaken for a boy. I wear guys’ clothes, I have broad shoulders and a pretty flat chest, but I’m proud of my athletic figure and the way I dress.
If someone wants to get into sport professionally they need to stay focused and be prepared to make sacrifices – which sometimes means getting an early night when all your friends are out. Hang around with other ambitious people too; they will push you towards your goal.
Despite her young age, Jo Chastney is a highly accomplished professional snowboarder.
In 2007 she became the British Quicksilver Snowboard Big Air and Snowboardcross Champion, as well as being nominated for Stonewall’s Sportsperson of the Year Award. A huge range of businesses sponsor her, and it’s her ambition to help progress women’s snowboarding.
Jo has been snowboarding since she was 13 and she proudly states on Twitter that she is a “Pro Snowboarder, Tree Surgeon and trying to get into the tattoo industry. I do skating, wakeboarding and fun stuff. I’m a homo.”
Jo appears in our inspirational Aim High booklet, along with 19 other people at the top of their respective fields, showing sexuality should not get in the way of success.