One legendary skateboarder is breaking the norms of the male-dominated hyper-masculine world of skateboarding by coming out as gay.
“My name’s Brian Anderson,” the 40-year-old told Vice Sports in an interview. “I’m a professional skateboarder, and we are here to talk about the fact that I’m gay.”
Anderson, who won the World Cup of Skateboarding in Germany in 1999, had kept his sexuality out of his professional career due to fear of how friends, family and fans would react.
“There’s a lot of homophobia in skateboarding,” said Mike Carroll, Co-Founder of Girl Skateboards. “There’s a lot of homophobia in everything. It’s not just skateboarding. It’s the world.”
The retired skateboarder was constantly made aware of the homophobia while growing up, causing him to grow more guarded about his sexuality.
“Hearing ‘faggot’ all the time made me think at a young age that it was really dangerous to talk about it,” he said. “I figured out how to balance it to where nobody questioned it and I was a big tough skateboarder, of course they’re not going to question that. Nobody thought anything.”
Fortunately for Anderson, coming out to the people around him was not as dangerous as he anticipated.
“It’s about skateboarding,” said Jake Phelps, Editor-In-Chief of Thrasher Magazine. “Who gives a fuck if you’re gay.” Thrasher named Anderson “Skater of the Year” in 1999 shortly after joining Girl Skateboards team.
Hiding his sexuality from the public took a toll on him.
“I would watch him drown his shame in booze,” Lindsey Brynes, former Marketing Director of High Speed Productions, said with tears streaming down her face. “I just wanted him to be happy.”
His father passed away before he could come out. He told his mother, giving her time to process the information. According to Anderson, she ultimately expressed support: “I just want you to be happy. I’m glad you can tell me that, and you don’t have to suffer and keep that in anymore.”
Anderson never anticipated coming out publicly on camera — he wanted to wait until his professional career was over before even thinking about it. However, he wanted to ease the fears of the younger generation coming out of the closet like him.
“A lot of these kids don’t have hope, are really scared to death,” he said. “To hear what I went through and to know that everything got better for me and I got a lot happier and felt more free and didn’t have all this shame buried inside my body. You become a happier person. So to convey that message was really important for me.”
Best of all, his friends and family agree on his importance of coming out.
“What a perfect person to represent the homosexual community in skateboarding,” said Brynes. “What a great role model.”
Check out the Vice Sports video interview below.