culture

Out in the Lineup

Founder of gaysurfers.net speaks about the new documentary focusing on gay surfers

| posted on November 12, 2013

OUT IN THE LINE-UP: A Film about Homosexuality in Surfing from Gay Surfers on Vimeo.

 

 

A few months back, we ran the trailer for Out in the Lineup, a documentary featuring the experiences of gay surfers around the world. Well, the movie is finally slated for release in December, and last week I exchanged e-mails with Thomas Castets, producer of the film, and the founder of gaysurfers.net, to find out a bit about what the project has involved. Here’s what he had to say.

What should the viewers expect to see?

Out in the Lineup is a documentary that exposes the taboo subject of homosexuality in surfing. It is a road movie that tells the stories of gay surfers from around the globe, exploring why surf culture has strayed from the sport’s roots of freedom, openness, and connection to nature. Stories of fear, isolation, and self-doubt emerge as well as ones of self-empowerment and transformation, pointing to a future that is filled with both challenge and hope.

From the trailer, it seems that pro surfing is the focus. If that is the case, why? Is there less of a taboo against gay surfers in amateur lineups?

No, the taboo is just as strong in amateur lineups, but most of our initial contact was with pro surfers. We’ve found that pros are often particularly confronted by the issue because of the conflict that comes from presenting an image that is a long way removed from your sense of identity. The pros flagged the issue, which exists across the entire surfing community—pros, amateurs, and commentators alike. The diversity of experiences on this issue became clear pretty quickly and we knew we had a good doco in the making. We looked at the issue of homosexuality in surfing within all sectors of the surfing community. We started collecting the perspectives of everyday surfers. Then we found a couple of professional surfers who are gay (most are retired from pro surfing, but one is currently on Tour). We also looked for the perspective of the industry, academics, and psychologists. Gay and straight.

How were the interview subjects and featured surfers chosen?

We started looking for protagonists back in May 2012. We already knew of a few gay surfers who had amazing stories, but we knew getting them to speak on camera might be challenge. Within the 5000+ community of gay surfers active on gaysurfers.net, we found that Sydney and California were the two areas with the biggest concentration of members. So we put the word out about the film in both communities asking people to participate. About 30 gay surfers responded and we selected the most powerful stories (a hard process), including three-time women’s world longboard champion Cori Schumacher, who we met for the first time. The response was overwhelming and really inspiring. As most gay surfers spoke of fear of rejection by the wider surfing community, we realized we needed some insights from other viewpoints, including straight surfers (professional and amateur), the surf industry, as well as media commentators, psychologists, and academics.

READ: Serena Brooke Interview

Did you encounter gay surfers who were unwilling to be in the film for fear of being outed?

We did meet many gay surfers who did not want to tell their stories because they believed that they would be rejected by their friends, their family, and the surf community if anyone found out that they were gay. We also met a couple of professional surfers who were scared they would lose their sponsors. We also experienced a lot of resistance from a few straight people. Some were scared that people would think they were gay if they appeared in our film. Some also refused to talk because they didn’t want to appear to be breaking the confidence of surfer friends who they knew were gay.

The biggest challenge was the initial reaction of many to the film. Some would ask, “Why are you making a film about homosexuality in surfing? No one cares if you are gay or straight.” But I think this points to the fact that most people haven’t thought about it because it is such a taboo. Most haven’t thought about how hard it would be to be gay in many surf communities. The fact is that gays and lesbians are three times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than other straight people, in large part because of such feelings of isolation. In some tragic cases, people have even taken their own lives because of non-acceptance. Sadly, such topics came up a lot in the interviews we conducted.

Did you have trouble landing sponsors or financial backers who were unwilling to be associated with a controversial topic?

We have not yet managed to secure any sponsorships deals from the surf industry. Many of them are still concerned about alienating their existing customer base by supporting a gay-related project. The lack of public support from the surf industry has been frustrating for us because we see this film as a huge opportunity for a surf brand to talk to a new generation of surfers. This film presents the opportunity for a sports brand to lead the way, not only promoting acceptance and diversity but also tapping into a target market that has been traditionally neglected and alienated. Companies operating in similar markets have jumped at the opportunity. You only need to look at Nike, who this year hosted the Nike LGBT Sports Summit in Portland.

TRAILER: Out in the Lineup

Do you feel that things are getting better or worse, in terms of inclusion and acceptance, for gay surfers?

I don’t know, I think it evolves differently in different parts of the world. Of course it has improved in large cities like Sydney, San Diego, and LA, but imagine being the only gay kid in a small surf town—there is still a lot of homophobia.

How do you think it would be received today if a top World Tour pro came out as gay?

Given the popularity of the topic (many athletes coming out in other sports) it would probably get a lot of media attention. It might be a painful moment for the pro, to be the first one to do it, but it might also be hugely rewarding. As Robbie Rogers said when he was the first U.S. soccer player to come out as gay, “Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.” The reactions would be mixed for sure. Some fans would think he/she is even more of a hero, some others would think he/she should have done it earlier, and unfortunately some other fans would be disappointed. But ultimately it would be very positive for the entire surfing world to finally break this taboo and tremendously inspiring for other surfers to be who they are, whatever it is. Let’s get the issue out there so we can move forward as a community.

  • dontneednochokebrain

    Thanks for making this movie. Surfer mag, why don’t you help sponsor it???

    • Michael Soule

      Probably because they don’t really give two shits about the documentary itself rather then the “Attention” their article gets… ;)

  • EWL

    Here is my issue. Who cares if your gay, straight, purple, orange. No gives a shit. So why make this movie? No sponsors? Well because no one gives a shit. Surfing is surfing being gay is being gay. If I were a professional race car driver would you care if I were gay? Probably not. Yes there are people who do not feel comfortable around gays and those people are free to feel that way. I don’t get it. Gays want to be treated equal but they also want to be treated special by making documentaries about how gays are secretly surfing in the world. If I’m in the line up do you think I am going to paddle up to you and ask you if your gay? No cause I don’t give a shit, I’m out to surf. Do you think anyone would care of Kelly Slater was gay? Doubt it. Guy has won so many events and thats what he is made of not what sexual preference he is. I initially saw the first little blurb about this movie on this site a while back and thought ok whatever. It involves surfing I get it. But make a full article on it? Really? Who wants special treatment now. Lets move on to some cool interesting “SURF” news. Just my take.

    • LW

      I think the point is that people do care, and gay surfers have had experiences that deserve to be written about. I don’t think we can imagine what it’s like if we aren’t part of that group. Understanding the experiences of others through their eyes will raise awareness of an issue that exists, but obviously is something a lot of people aren’t aware of.

    • AdamCalizona

      Your point seems valid enough on first glance but here’s the problem – there is still a SERIOUS crisis in the LGBT community, especially among young people, around coming out and now knowing whether you will be supported when you do. Otherwise people wouldn’t still be closeted. The result has been disproportionately large cases of serious clinical depression and suicide among gay young people. Bringing the spotlight to willing LGBT role models and celebrities accomplishes a lot of important things: it allows people of serious social caliber to stand up to the bullies so that normal folks don’t have to and it makes it easier for young people to come out, knowing that there is a community that supports them in every aspect of society – whether that be politics or surfing.

      So 1) You say it’s no big deal and that no one cares. That may be true for you but for many, MANY people it’s not. If everyone thought that way, then coming out wouldn’t be a thing. However, while I congratulate you on having that viewpoint, your argument of “who cares” is often used as a sort of sneaky way of saying “Shut up. We’d rather pretend gay people didn’t exist”. I’m not saying that’s you but that is often how that argument is used. If the attitude really is “who cares”, you shouldn’t have to say so… because people who ACTUALLY don’t care usually don’t walk around saying “who cares!?”.

      and 2) It isn’t about special treatment of any kind. It’s about creating an atmosphere of support for people struggling with their sexuality and emotional demons in a sport where hyper-masculinity dominates the lineup. A young up and coming surfer shouldn’t think he has to decide between being a surfer and being out (which… HELLO! If you read this article, you’d know that is a real problem!)

      • EWL

        Adam,
        I agree with some of your rebuttals however I think Neym below put it much better. Should we make a movie about gays who play horseshoes? I mean really? On the other hand you do have the freedom to make a movie about anything these days but please don’t portray most surfers as homophobic gay bashers. Homophobia is everywhere therefore a movie documentary on persecuted gays should be more broad and not to single out………. say surfers. I too have not met any homophobic surfers in my time. Water time is water time, gay straight or otherwise.

        • AdamCalizona

          I think you’re being too defensive. The point isn’t to demonize anyone – at least, I certainly hope that wasn’t the point of this documentary. It’s probably fair to say that surf culture is no more or less “homophobic” than many other subcultures. This isn’t about pointing fingers, it’s about helping people realize that their two identities don’t have to be in conflict with one another.

          Also, saying that “water time is water time” is disingenuous. Surfing has been hyped with sexuality – So, where are the people complaining about the sexualization of surfing? This summers Roxy ad with Stephanie Gilmore, anyone?! Just to name one example. Surfing has been sexualized just like everything else – probably the fault of corporate sponsorship and media portrayal more than the average surfer but still, that’s part of the image it has acquired. So why is something like this suddenly so absolutely crazy?

          Not talking about something is not a real solution unless it has to do with grandmas last year Christmas mishap with the tequila. If we don’t talk about it, we make it easier for the people who ARE homophobic bullies continue to be homophobic bullies – and although you say you’ve never met any, clearly, if so many surfers, amateur and pro, refused interviews for fear of being outed as either gay or gay friendly, there must be SOME homophobia in the community.

          You said it yourself. This isn’t unique to surfing. So why is a documentary that focuses on the intersection of homosexuality and surf culture and involves the input of surfers more appropriate than a “general, broad documentary”? Because surfers listen more carefully and take more seriously the word of other surfers. Surfers will watch a surf documentary about what it means to “coming out” as a surfer before they will go and watch a plain old vanilla documentary about coming out.

          If I say, hey, I’m an environmental lawyer and I want to come talk to you about the water quality of our beaches. You might hear what I have to say. But if I say, “Hey, I’m an environmental lawyer and I’ve been surfing north county since I was seven years old, lets talk about the water quality of our beaches.” You’ll probably take me a little more seriously.

        • a.ec

          all this film does is share the stories of gay surfers, first hand, from their own experience. that is the only intent of the movie, in fact, if you read the interview, thomas said that they made a point of highlighting stories where surfers and the surfing world had a positive impact on the gay surfer being highlighted.

    • YeahYeah

      Agreed. No one gives a shit. The only people making an issue out if are gays. Get over yourselves. No one gives a shit if you’re gay or straight.

    • a.ec

      “the lineup” is a figurative term in this sense meaning the larger
      surfer world and culture, it doesn’t just mean the actual literal
      lineup, somehow i think realize that is the case here and are being needlessly facetious. also, it’s great that to you homophobia isn’t an issue, but for
      many it is, and to people that are gay and do deal with it it’s very
      real sometimes. why does it bother you that a documentary is being made
      about it? would it bother you if a surfing documentary was made about
      jamaicans in the lineup, or women in the lineup?(again using lineup in
      the figurative) somehow i don’t think you would think twice or maybe
      you would even think to yourself, “cool they are making a film about a
      segment of the surfing community” or maybe you wouldn’t think twice at
      all, because you really didn’t care all that much. the fact that you
      care enough to rant about it speaks volumes to your own homophobia, that
      you claim to not have or care about so much….

    • penis on your mom

      Spot on dude.

  • Neym

    “surf culture has strayed from the sport’s roots of freedom, openness, and connection to nature”? That’s pretty fucking insulting man. What’s it become then? Surfers are stuck-up, close-minded, gay-hating Monsanto represantatives? I haven’t met a single surfer like that.
    Honestly if I was looking to make a movie about homophobia and marginalization of
    gays the surfing world would be the last place I’d look.

    • EWL

      Well Said!!!!

  • Michael Soule

    Why is everyone so Afraid to post with their REAL Identity? Homophobe much? Lol!

    • EWL

      Actually I don’t care to put my real name on anything online these days. Not because I am afraid of what people think of my opinion but because I don’t need the uneducated few who don’t have debating skills to track me other places. I love a great debate / conversation more than a ridiculous name calling flame war. So I guess since I don’t put my real name on a comment board that makes me homophobic? You sad, sad man.

      • Michael Soule

        Yup… But not as sad as the comments that you have posted that you call debates… Please Pfft! Who are you calling uneducated? You have absolutely no idea…

  • comtemplate it

    Surf culture is one of the most racist, homophobic, misogynistic cultures that I have experienced.

    I am happy that people so strongly feel that there is no need to explore these topics in a surf film.

    Because you never call someone a “fag” (homophobic) or a kook (racist) or call a woman “slut” because she doesn’t want to talk to you.

    Have heard this more at the beach in California than anywhere else.

    These strong reactions should be contemplated and figure put where in you they are coming from and what the true feeling is behind it.

    • AdamCalizona

      I guess my experiences are limited to my local breaks so I’m a little
      more tempered. I often hesitate to use the word homophobic because I
      think it’s too blunt a tool for what the real problem is, which are the
      more subtle attitudes people adopt which, while not openly or overtly
      homophobic, create an atmosphere where truly homophobic people (and
      potentially violently so) can safely hide out and avoid being openly
      confronted.

      Example: This notion that men have that their
      identity is tied directly to their ability to be as hypermasculine as
      possible and that any deviation is a direct attack on their livelihood.
      “Oh, I’m sorry. You don’t like being checked out by another dude?
      Welcome to how it must feel to be a woman for the last, oh… forever?”
      Suck it up, babies.

      The point of a documentary like
      this isn’t to point fingers and call surfers homophobic (though some
      people will). The point is, I hope, to address the more subtle issues
      that present a very particular challenge to being out as a surfer. Pro
      or not.

      Jesus. I wish being a surfer meant just being a surfer. I
      wish that saying “I’m gay and I’m a surfer” weren’t a thing but it is.
      Because every time I’m asked about whether I hooked up with that girl
      from the bar crawl last night or what I think of the crazy chick on the
      longboard whose putting all us guys in our 4mil suits to shame by
      wearing nothing but a bikini… every time something like that comes up I
      have to stop and think about the possible effects of what I’m going to
      say. Will it be awkward? (it often is) Will they treat me differently?
      (they sometimes do) Will they stop talking to me in the lineup? (it’s
      happened more than once). Oh how convenient it would be if I could just
      HONESTLY reply “Yeah dude, I’d f*** her”.

      We are human beings. In spite of how much we try, we don’t leave our personalities or our identities on the beach. Sorry if that shatters peoples romanticized view of surfing but…*shrug*

  • lalalala

    Ah… I am all for fighting homophobia through the power of film or whatever, but this is really reaching. I’m gay. I surf. No one gives a shit. Of course, I live in california, but I think that’s the point. Gay surfers in conservative communities have a hard time because they live in conservative communities, not because they surf. In fact, once you’re out on the water no one gives a shit who you are or who you fuck– honestly that’s kind of the whole point of surfing. It’s just you and the ocean.

    And sure, a lot of surfers are assholes to me about being gay. But a lot of surfers are just assholes. They care a lot more about whether I’m on their wave than about who I’m going on a date with later that night. I mean goddamn.

    I want to support any efforts to make being gay more widely accepted, and I’m sure the filmmakers meant well, but as a a flamingly gay surfer this kinda made me roll my eyes.

  • J

    Go to Stab Mag and read some of the comments on Beau Foster’s videos or posts about Luke Davis if you think there’s no need to address homophobia in surfing. Those guys aren’t even gay and the hatred in their threads is out of control. Whether we (surfers) want to admit it or not, this IS an area where our community needs to improve tolerance-wise. I hope this film helps and I want to see it.

  • Thomas
  • I Hate Surfing In HB

    I surf but have never cared to make it a lifestyle. I think alot of “Surfing is a way of life” quacks are just retarded. I almost vomited when I found out that they are going to make the US Open just about surfing again. If you ask me, it was a total fucking bore before they started adding music and other cultural events.

    Anyway, I would rather see a gay parade walk down Main Street in my home town of Huntington Beach, cross PCH and then paddle out on the south side of the pier to have a gay surfing orgy contest then to have a “Surf Bro” Only event like the sleepers that were put on before.

    Before we had rock stars on the beaches for the free concerts, the surfers thought they were the rock stars and that is so played out…. Bring on the gays!

  • I Hate Surfing In HB

    Oh yeah, the movie sounds cool! At least most gay dudes are interesting. “Surf Bros” are a dime a dozen and that movie has been made. You “Surf Bros” Can jack off to whatever you want. Let the gays have their movie….

  • dgb

    There will be a time soon when the gay liberation movement will have the epiphany that the desperately held vestige of homophobic persecution is the true crisis in the gay community. Never before in history has homosexuality been more accepted by main stream culture. Gay characters are abound in modern culture. Marriage equality widely accepted – unresponsive government lag is an age old problem and not specific to this issue. Yet, this persecution paranoia can be clearly seen in the broken-down logic below…‘saying how much you don’t care just means you care.’ If young men and women are, as stated below, suffering from fear of coming out (that redundant and utterly self indulgent gay coming-of-age act), they need to focus their gaze on the community they belong to as the source of their misguided fears. Gay men and women, please, get over yourselves. We are not interested in who you have sex with.

  • Pingback: Out in the Line-up: Eroding Surfing's Homophobia | The Inertia

  • Get over it

    I am sick of people saying who cares, get on with it and keep it to yourself whenever a needed issue is brought to light and addressed, especially when most of these people commenting don’t even know the pressures of being the bikini girl and the sexy beach guy that sponsors’ and the industry want you to be. Unfortunately it is not as easy as it seems; you would know this if you had to deal with being attracted to someone of the same sex in a society that perceives it as not ‘normal’ or deal with the decision of coming out for just one day of your life. You would know what it feels like to get your car keyed (scratched), or being aggressively approached by men trying to get you and your girlfriend to kiss again, or nasty remarks yelled out at you. Many say no one cares but I can tell you for a fact they do, just read over 200 of the 230 negative comments on Serena Brooke’s interview here http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/surfer-serena-brooke-makes-waves-in-gay-marriage-debate/comments-fnet09p2-1226600582178?pg=2#comments

    I have been a professional surfer and I remember guys on the junior tour crossing out the girls heat draw and replacing girls with dykes (over and over again for three days straight). It helps them get the girls because they are constantly trying to prove they are straight… then surprise surprise, they have gone from Dykes to Sluts. You think that makes it easy for girls to be themselves and come out and just get on with it?

    For those who have never been a pro surfer which I am assuming is 99% of people commenting please don’t share your assumptions on things you don’t know about as you haven’t been there. There are many others just like myself, both men and women, we just play up to what and who we are told to be in order to continue the dream… some may call it weak but it is the only way we feel safe.

    Stop saying get over it if you don’t know what it feels like.
    The surf industry is xenophobic and Out In The Line Up is addressing just one issue of many. It is a start, and for your information supporting it doesn’t mean you are gay. If you are getting so worked up about it perhaps you should address your own sexuality ; )

    Also… If we should just get over it the same can be said for you… You don’t have to watch or support it just like I choose not to read Stab magazine which supports rape culture and negative stereotypes.
    Get over it

    P.s neym and ewl you guys are tripping… Either that or you’ve got some nice rose coloured glasses on!

  • LoL

    No waves for gays should be the name of this film.

  • Donnie Hill

    Try telling your family that you are gay. Dude, acceptance is a major part of feeling healthy. Most folks, yeah believe in free will. The mob is what many have to battle with when there is a unique idea or character up for debate. The surf industry in general is overtly hetero/borderline misogynist. There is no outlet and no representation( not that gays want or need to see any extra butt shots of guys or gals, there’s plenty already) for gays.
    I’m saying that surfing is a personal exploration no matter how you slice it.
    I am more interested in hearing personal accounts of individuals or groups in a cultural basis than watching videos of some pro’s workout techniques or another amateur go pro dribble(although i like those too).

  • surfergirl

    I saw the film in SF this weekend and I think it’s spot on. I had friends that were pro surfers living in Hawaii and were very afraid that their sponsors and friends would find out they were gay. Some people are very sheltered and they sometimes think if you like them then you’re hitting on them so they don’t want to associate with you. As a gay woman and surfer I have always been comfortable surfing with the boys and other women. I think this movie is important to shed some light and educate the people out there that don’t think there’s a problem and to also support those that are gay and struggling with their feelings and lack of acceptance. Peace love & aloha