Bring On The Gay
Last year I wrote a similar rant on push.ca, but there are a few additional points to bring up, so let’s get into this:
Too many jocks in this macho sport of snowboarding/skateboarding would follow up such an outpouring of man love with the expression “NO HOMO.” I do not.
Wait a minute. Macho. Jocks. Sport… all used in the same sentence as boarding? When did the outsider built culture of snowboarding and skateboarding become so scared of people that are different? Both were rooted by outcasts that didn’t belong anywhere else and now backs are being turned on those doing something different. Whether they’re gay or just wear different clothes or turn different tricks.
Flipping through an old issue of StepChild’s Blunter Magazine Scott E. Wittlake’s answer to a stock question made me realize how truly homophobic the so-called open-minded lifestyle of riding boards can be.
Experts agree it is impossible to nail down an exact percentage for various reasons, but a widely accepted statistic is that 1 in every 10 individuals is gay (depending on your definition); however even erring on the side of caution some research estimates 1 in 20.
Therefore, many riders and quite a few in your circle of close friends are gay.
So where are the gay snowboarders? I’m not talking about fly-in Whistler Altitude week warriors. I mean actual pro male snowboarders that hold hands, make out, and bang other men. Are we a hyper-testosterone fueled breed that has a genetically impossible low number of gay people? Doubtful. They must be out there, throwing smooth front 7’s and switch back-lipping nasty handrails. And they shouldn’t be afraid of the industry’s thoughts if they want to raise their hand.
Females can do it. Their names won’t be gossiped here, but it’s no secret who they are. They rip. They’re marketable. And no one cares who they sleep with at night. For men the stereotype lurks harder.
There are a few well-respected skateboarders who everyone claims they know are gay. I agree with Rob Brink’s views in this Jenkem Mag interview that the decision of any gay riders to come out should be respected, but they shouldn’t have to live with any fear of coming out. A pro role model that swings the other way would help wipe out many stereotypes men have in skate/snowboarding and bust down some doors. Not to mention the encouragement it would bring to others chilling in the closet. Rob is right. Heterosexuality… so boring right now.
Jenkem: Will we ever have a gay pro skater role model?
Rob Brink: I hope! All this heterosexuality is getting really boring.
Why don’t we already have one? There are obviously gay pro skaters out there…
RB: I don’t know why we don’t already have one but I respect the decisions of dudes’ to not announce it if they don’t want. The very fact that a “closet” exists is so odd. Because there is no closet for straight people. Some headway is being made though… you should hear the way dudes talk about Dylan [Rieder] out here. Even the most hetero men are gay for Dylan. It’s awesome. I wonder what it’s like to have every chick AND every dude think you are hot. That’s some next level shit. Dylan is hands down one of my favorite skaters or all time. TEAM HANDSOME!
Would it hurt sponsorships and endorsements? No doubt it would cause a stir at first, but it would also expose the bigots. Who over time, if all were right in this industry, would be removed from action sports.
Would it be commercial suicide for a company to promote a gay man’s product? Doubt it. Remember the Peter Line Rainbow model for Division 23? Pat Bridges brought up a few points about it in this ESPN interview with Colin Whyte.
“Pat Bridges: Recently, Peter Line told me that his Division 23 Rainbow board may have sold 40,000 units or something like that. While he admitted that this number could have been exaggerated it is plausible considering his stature at the time and the fact that there were only seven real players in the board market and they each offered anywhere between eight and 50 models apiece. Now successful pro models are those that can maintain sales in the four figures.”
Peter might not be gay, but a snowboard with a rainbow on the top sheet blatantly flies the flag. Forty thousand boards sold have got to make it one of the best selling boards of all time.
Sex sells. Rainbows sell. Gay sells. The people are ready. Someone step up and knock the ignorance out of action sports.
As Scott E. Wittlake said, let’s break the cycle of ignorance; this is our generations’ civil rights battle. Next time you’re hanging with buddies watching football, eating meat, shot gunning beer, and following-up ass slaps up with mocking homophobic comments to ensure masculinity remains intact, say something. Put an end to the demeaning “gay, fag, no homo…” talk.
As snowboarders, are we not above that jock shit?
If I can be so bold as to speak on behalf of snowboarding for a minute, I’ll reapply this Kurt Cobain quote from the ‘Incesticide’ liner notes and let it be heard:
“At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us – leave us the fuck alone!”