Despite an increase in the number of elite athletes coming out in other sports, there has never been an openly gay surfer on the professional tour. In the wider surf community, many hide their sexuality in fear of rejection, threats or ostracism.
In a world where male-to-male bonding is pivotal in the formation of surf crews, there is an ever-present undercurrent of homophobia with the words “fag”, “poofter”, “homo” and “faggot” thrown around constantly to insult and abuse rival surf crews.
Surf culture is very different from many other sports, it is dictated by an extensive list of strange and complex unwritten rules - Surf break ‘ownership,' the ‘pecking order’, each individual's personal image as a surfer as well as a strong emphasis on camaraderie between fellow surfers. These long, complicated rules not only change from beach to beach but also from country to country.
The archetypal surfer is strong, tanned, athletic and masculine and presents himself armed with a tough exterior, adopting a ‘gang-like’ mentality when laying claim to their part of turf on the beach. With risk of losing sponsorship, ‘poofter bashing’, bullying in the line-up and even suicide, it is no surprise then that in the world of surfing, homosexuality is almost invisible.
Surfing is a sport that presents itself with such open-mindedness, a strong connection to the ocean and freedom in spirit, yet many surfers still don’t feel so free about talking about opening up about their sexuality.
The Feed meets three gay surfers who have all recently come out in a sub-culture where they say homosexuality is still a taboo.
Produced by Gabriel Virata and Miles Bence
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