The Paper Plane
Has Skateboarding Begun to Embrace the LGBTQ Community?
A couple weeks ago while killing some time at work, I read an article revealing the news that one of my favourite pro skateboarders Brian Anderson, has decided to publicly come out and announce his sexuality to the skateboarding community. Although my timing was late (he announced his coming out on a Vice documentary in September), I had heard rumours of his sexuality years ago, so this news didn’t come as a complete surprise to me.
Mostly it is a breath of relief that Brian has decided to come out while he is still skateboarding. At first, in the documentary Brian says it may be the end of his career as a professional skateboarder, but now that appears not to be true and he plans to be in the industry for at least another 10 years. His apparel collection with Nike SB seems to solidify that statement, with a yellow captain’s jersey standing out amongst the collection. Captain, an appropriate title for the first publicly gay pro, and a role model individual as well.
My interest in Brian Anderson started a long time ago, when he had a part in the first skateboarding video I ever owned, Yeah Right. It was in this video that he had a standout song, one that my friends would later joke identified him as queer (still not sure if that’s true or not), and what could only be described as the best varial kickflip in skateboarding. It was mainly his style you could say, the way he commanded tricks, then casually walked away from them like nothing happened. In one of the longest skate videos ever made, BA possessed a stand out part which is an accomplishment in it’s own right. That year he won skater of the year, and ever since I’ve been sort of enamoured with Brian Anderson and his effortless steeze.
Through seeing documentaries, and following the skate culture, it was obvious BA was a bit different, but then so are many skateboarders, as it attracts people who are generally very creative and different in many ways. What sort of clued me in that he might be gay was how he’s good friends with female pro skater Elissa Steamer, and also how he lives in San Francisco, but neither of these things clearly identify him as gay. For me personally coming out was difficult as a skateboarder because it can be so homophobic, so I had to cling to the possibility that one of my favourite skaters might be gay. Fortunately here it seemed to pay off as the one pro skateboarder I thought might be gay, actually is.
When I found out about this news, it was actually on a blog of another queer skateboarder by the name of Tobias Coughlin-Bogue. Tobias decided to come out in the wake of this news about Brian Anderson, and hopes others will be inspired to do the same. I myself have been out as a gay skateboarder for six years now, and dream of one day joining a gay skateboarders coalition with fellow queer skaters. One day soon, I’ll meet that fabled gay skater.
The last time I asked someone at Pride with a board if they happened to be gay, and they said they weren’t but to “keep looking, they’re out there.” If one thing is for certain now, gay skateboarders are certainly out there. It’s just up to us to embrace the spotlight.
About the Author
Dylan Kulcher is an avid skateboarder, gamer, music fan, and aspiring journalist from the small airport town of Mount Hope, Hamilton. Always looking for a reason to visit the big city and network outside his comfort zone, Dylan vies to bring communities together with his writing. A member of many LGBTQ groups and participator in his local Pride rallies, he strives for transparency in his life and doesn’t feel like anyone should have to hide in the closet!.