Where Are All The Gay Skateboarders? In The Week That Brian Anderson Came Out, We Ask Why Being Gay Is Frowned Upon In Skateboarding
Why is being gay still such a taboo in skateboarding?
The news that broke this week that skateboarder Brian Anderson is gay has been met with rapturous applause throughout much of the skateboarding world, and associated media. And it is good news. But it’s also abhorrent that it is even news at all.
Anybody that’s stood on a sheet of grip-tape in anger will know who Brian Anderson is, but if you’re not that familiar with him, he’s very much the skateboarders skateboarder. He’s a beast of a man, willing to take slam after slam after slam to get that trick, and get it right.
His focus on skating appears laser-guided. His commitment to it is unwavering. His presence alone makes the biggest, highest, toughest hubba or stair-set almost shrink in fear. His kickflip is always, always flawless. He’s won the prestigious Skater Of The Year award in 1999, and was crowned World Champion that same year.
Forget X Games gold’s. Forget 900’s and 1080’s. Forget mega-ramps, video games, mainstream endorsements, Instagram followers, YouTube views and invitations to the White House. We’re not knocking those achievements, but to the core skateboard community, it’s the achievements of Brian Anderson that count, and this is important.
Anderson isn’t the first male skateboarder to come out as being gay. However, with all due respect to those that have before him, they weren’t Brian Anderson. They weren’t Mr Skateboarding. He is.
Anderson is so respected within his world, that by coming out, whether he wants to or not, he’s forcing the abject trolls who use homophobia to degrade and destroy others to question themselves. To question their unsustainable, uneducated, pathetic beliefs.
Yes, these homophobes may – to borrow a phrase from the Leader Of The Free World – be on the wrong side of history, but they still exist, and they still make peoples lives genuinely miserable. Brian Anderson coming out sends a signal to the world that gay men aren’t weak. They aren’t effeminate. They aren’t somehow less than others. And this is why Brian Anderson coming out is a very, very good thing.
But it’s also shit. It’s shameful for all involved in this usually brilliant bubble of action sports, that in 2016 it’s still headline news that somebody is gay. That being gay is still such a taboo, still so frowned upon, that it’s taken 40 years for a man as warrior-like as Anderson to want to be able to tell the world.
By now, telling somebody your gay should hold the same significance as telling them that you’re left handed, or that you don’t like shellfish, or sharing your belief that the music of James Arthur should still be boycotted irrespective of how many times he apologises.
"Anywhere between one in four, and one in ten people are gay, so why are so few gay skaters?"
Jake Phelps, the editor In Chief of a skateboard magazine called Thrasher – in many ways the American equivalent of Sidewalk – sums the news up well: “Who Cares [if you’re] Gay? What Does That Matter? You skate. I Skate. We’re Skateboarders. This is about skateboarding. Who cares a fuck if you’re gay?". Quite.
We’re pleased that Brian Anderson can live his life openly and hope that, in coming out, other gay skaters, gay surfers, whatever, find doing so less and less of a struggle. After all, popular reasoning says that anywhere between one in four, and one in ten people are gay, so why are so few gay skateboarders? The numbers simply don’t add up.
Furthermore, we hope that this speeds up the process by which the thick frightened homophobes out there are consigned to the rubbish bin of history just that bit quicker. We’re delighted for Anderson, but we’re sad that this is still headline news.