Article

Out in the Lineup

Gay surfers speak up about homophobia in upcoming documentary

| posted on May 01, 2013

[Trailer: Out in the Lineup]

On Monday, NBA center Jason Collins published an eloquent essay on Sports Illustrated’s website in which he revealed to the sports world that he’s gay. Collins is now the long-anticipated first active male athlete in a major American sports league to do so. Many more will surely follow. After all, about 4 percent of the people reading this article are gay or lesbian. 5 percent if they’re from California. Statistically speaking, at least two of the pros competing on the men’s and women’s draws of the World Tour are likely to be gay or lesbian.

Over the years, a handful of mostly retired pros have come out. Lynne Boyer won two world titles in the late ‘70s while concealing her sexual orientation from competitors. In 2007, Australia’s tattooed, punk-drumming badass Matt Branson bared all about his experience as a closeted gay pro in a groundbreaking article for Stab magazine. Amee Donohoe, ranked No. 5 in the world in 2008, scored the cover of San Francisco’s lesbian-focused Curve magazine in 2009 and in a featured article spoke openly about her struggles on tour as a lesbian surfer. Three-time world longboard champ and surf industry gadfly Cori Schumacher is possibly today’s most outspoken gay surfer; her criticism of homophobia and sexism in surfing at least partially led her to abandon the pro tour in 2011.

Homophobia in the surf world, however tacitly, has persisted into the 21st century as a nasty cultural relic—both in and out of the pro ranks. There are thousands of gay surfers out there, but openly gay waveriders are exceedingly rare on the surf industry’s main stages.

French/Australian surfer Thomas Castets founded the website gaysurfers.net in 2010 in an hopeful bid to give a voice to the gay surf community. He wanted to create an online community where gay and lesbian surfers could find each other, share stories, and in doing so gain strength and support.

Gay surfers worldwide have since found a digital home at Castets’ site, and now he’s taking his message to the big screen with Out in the Lineup, a documentary set for release in December. The film’s focus is on gay surfers from across the surf world, ex-pros and beginners alike, opening up about their experiences as homosexuals in a homophobic lineup. Surf journalists and sports psychologists also appear in interviews to help map out the rocky evolution of diversity and acceptance in surf and sports culture.

The film looks for all the world like it will raise eyebrows, jumpstart difficult conversations, and help push surf culture in a more open and inclusive direction. Whether it will help produce the surf world’s Jason Collins remains to be seen.

The filmmakers are looking for financial support as they wrap up production. Should you feel so inclined, check out their website, outinthelineup.com.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    Let me start out by stating that I am not a homophobe. I don’t see there being an issue here unless you are a pro, nobody cares what the sexuality of your fellow surfers in the line up is. The derogatory terms that are used would be the same as the ones used when you are driving and someone cuts you off, this has nothing to do with surfing really. I reject that the lineups are homophobic, maybe there are a few rare ones someplace, but I doubt they would be welcoming to anybody, regardless of orientation!

  • Michael

    To Jimmy the Saint: Good for you that you have never experienced any homophobia or discrimination in the line up. Others of us have. I’m glad that it is not an issue for you, and I hope that in the future, it will no longer be an issue for any surfer. But, if the reality of homophobia in the surf world that does exist today causes new young surfers harm, then it is a good and timely topic to bring to light. It’s time for surfing to enter the 21st century, like other sports are starting to do, and to open the doors for everyone to enjoy it, learn from it, and become better human beings because of it. I applaud these film makers. The men and women in this film are paving the way to let the next generation know that Surfing Is For Everyone.

  • tyler

    never heard of the basketball player before this, Was that part of his motive??

    when does it matter if an athlete is homosexual or not ??

    This film seems more like people searching for acceptance than waves.

  • Michael

    Good for you if you have never experienced any homophobia or discrimination in the line up. Others of us have. I’m glad that it is not an issue for you, and I hope that in the future, it will no longer be an issue for any surfer. But, if the reality of homophobia in the surf world that does exist today causes new young surfers harm, then it is a good and timely topic to bring to light. It’s time for surfing to enter the 21st century, like other sports are starting to do, and to open the doors for everyone to enjoy it, learn from it, and become better human beings because of it. I applaud these film makers. The men and women in this film are paving the way to let the next generation know that Surfing Is For Everyone.

  • Janice

    This is awesome! And if the topic doesn’t touch your life, then great for you. Yeah, not every lineup is homophobic, but some are. I know from experience. When I’m surfing, you bet I’m looking for waves more than acceptance… but that doesn’t negate the fact that homophobia exists out there. It’s time to be get rid of it – just like racism and sexism – and welcome all surfers. So rad that this movie is getting out there!

  • Brian R

    Right on! I’m stoked for this movie. The ocean opens her arms to every one who wants to ride a wave. Shouldn’t be an issue, but it is sometimes. Glad we are making some progress towards a better world, and a better surf world.

  • happy

    apparently it’s cool to be gay now?

  • ALsauce

    I could care less if the dude next to me in the lineup is gay. Truth is, there is no conceivable way to even find out whether or not the guy is gay unless he tells you or makes a pass at you. Nine times out of ten, there isnt much chatting going on between sets anyhow. For that reason, I think this “issue” is a little blown out of proportion. My $0.02. I think most average joe surfers would agree that this really isn’t a problem. Unless, of course, you just have thin skin, in which case you’ve clearly chosen the wrong sport.

  • Name

    Since gay surfers seem set on being identified and treated equally I think they should all where pink arm bands and put “I’m a gay surfer” stickers on their cars and boards…. or how else will anyone know they are gay?!?!?

  • JoeMcN

    I’m a straight surfer. I don’t care if any other surfers are gay or straight. But, I have seen some dudes be very uncool when they think some other surfer is gay. What strikes me as funny, is you commenters who say they don’t care if a surfer is gay, but then go on to bash that this film is even being made. If you don’t think it’s an issue, then don’t see it. No problem. But why take the time to put it down if it’s going to help someone else? Sounds a little like it is an issue to you, or else you would just move on from the topic and let it be. Be cool to each other and recognize that everyone has a different experience in life. It’s all good. Peace.

  • Zach

    More gay drama…How do you know who is gay?

    If this makes gay surfers feel better, more power to ya…

  • Jeff

    One of the related posts is a story featuring Alex Knost in the title. Hmm…..

  • Reginald B. Fessenden

    …and another related link leading to a story about the Westsiders.. double hmmm…

  • Dennis

    It’s cool that these folks get to tell their story. Right on. I think JoeMcN is right by writing “uncool when they THINK some other surfer is gay.” Yeah, you may not know for sure if the next guy or gal is gay, but when someone thinks so, there’s been some pretty mean sh*t that’s gone down. So, I say, live and let live. I’m straight. I’m a surfer. I’m confident in who I am. No need to put down any other surfer for telling their story. You know you’re kidding yourself to pretend there’s not a lot of anti-gay vibes in surfing. I’ve heard it. I’m glad gay surfers feel like it’s more ok to be open about who they are. And if it’s not a big deal to you, then no need to knock ‘em for saying their peace. Good for them.
    Good luck with the movie.

  • Closet Hetro…

    I was raised in a gay family. Very nurturing family. I’m a guy and started out young liking and dating guys. But I was in the closet about my sexuality. I’m a hetro and I no longer have to apologize for it. I like women! And I likes them alot!!!

    Thank you for letting me tell my story about coming out.

  • Yeahbrah

    …and a third related link leading to a story about the Sacred Craft expo. The verdict is in!

  • Michael Soule

    Good to see that there are some positive comments on here…
    You really have no Idea what its like being on the other side of the fence,
    Thank you all for the Love!
    Aloha Nui… ;)

  • required

    Yeah Dennis, some mean sh!t has gone down. More to the point though would be
    a doco about, “don’t be a D!ck, in the line up”. Not I’m different (gay), don’t mess with me. Teach, manners, etiquette, and how to share in the line up, as to stop ANY harassment. Not against this at all, but by constantly saying your different, will get you treated different. Sorry if my use of D!ck offended any D!ck’s.

  • dgb

    If only gay people could get over the fact that they are gay, everything would be fine. Nobody gives a shit with who or how you have sex. The majority just doesn’t care. Stop wearing your sexuality on your head like a thorny crown and get over the broken down assumption that people don’t like or accept you because you are gay. It’s more than likely that it’s because you’re just, in general, a boring unpleasant shit to be around.

    I want the surf mags to write stories about my sexuality…I want surf movies to tackle the issues and face the concerns me and my brethren have to deal with on a daily basis. The ridicule, the derogatory names we are called. I want people to now.

    It’s true.

    I am…into…slightly over weight, drunk blond chicks.

    Out of the closet finally.

    So, what tax breaks can I get? And when is the slightly over weight, drunk blond chicks mardi gras?

  • NorCal

    Interesting and provocative. Proud Mr Collins. But, as someone who has spent much of their life in an industry dominated by homosexual men and dealt with such in their complete freedom to express who they are AND sexually harass others, I am not all that impressed or concerned for homosexuals in the surf world. Surfing had been a masagenistic, chauvinistic, hillbilly, blue collar boys club that abuses anyone willing to take it! The one thing I have NEVER heard in the lineup is someone openly abusing any homosexual. EVER!! And I’ve been surfing in the hick town of SC for 35 years.

    Truth is, you would have to be retarded, and I mean retarded to not have observed just how many women on the tour are gay, and let’s just say everyone knows there were some Aussies with some open issues in the 80′s. Did that miraculously go away? Let alone my own town. The only way I could see it being hard to be openly gay and being a surfer is this or any other town, is if you try to pick up the wrong dude, or paddle around the wrong dude. The latter the real issue, and trust me, it’s not because of your sexual preferences. It’s probably because you suck! Besides, with as liquored up as half the pros I know, I’m sure some crap has gone down…

    I’m sympathetic, but being a surfer is the real problem. Keep wishing it’s because your gay.

  • Yeah

    Slightly drunk blonde chick mardi gras…thats the funniest thing I’ve ever read dude. I demand equality. We deserve a parade!

  • who cares

    who cares!!! I go surfing, do I need to know if your gay or not? TMI!!! another gay promo!! keep your sexuality in the damn bedroom!!! go surf and have fun.

  • Rt

    How many gay people do you know that work in a surf shop, shaped boards, compete as amateurs or maybe even as a pro? If you think none that would be pretty dumb of you. Should they have to hide who they are?

    Because they do. That’s not a game they’re playing. there is a reason for their fear.
    Gay kids are bullied and abused all the time even by surfers.
    How would you feel if there was a gay surfer kid out at your school? Would allow him to hangout with at your local spot, or on your surf team?

    How can you tell there’s a gay surfer in the water next you? Well that should be almost impossible this is about the sport not a fashion show.

    What about at the beach? Or a local party? Which one of your friend (s) is the gay one? Cause surely one or two of them are. I guess it’s ok to be gay as cool as long as they act like you right?
    Do you hangout with your chick at the beach, at school, at that party? What would you say if your gay friend (that your surely have) wanted to do exactly the same thing with his boyfriend. Would that be ok with you and your friends?

    Would you be ok to go on a surf trip with your gay friend (that you don’t yet know about) if he wanted to bring his boyfriend?

    This issue isn’t about wanting more rights than anyone else, it’s about wanting the same. Sexuality isn’t a choice. being straight isn’t a choice neither is being gay.

    This about the right to be like everyone else. It’s also about excepting each others differences.
    Here’s an analogy, have ever been hassled at some beach by the locals? tried to sneak in some place, the ranch comes to mind, trying to act like you belong there?, Then get hassled just for being akve pretty much. That’s about what this is like.

  • mike

    maybe we should also consider the fact that surfers are generally assholes, and most lineups, unwelcoming to anyone, regardless of ability, color, nationality, creed or orientation.

  • Andy

    I find it strange for anybody to be open about there sexuality in the lineup. I’ve never paddled out telling everyone about how I love to plough chicks . How can anybodys sexuality be discrimnated by in a lineup? Can you tell if someones gay by the way they surf.? If the surfers above are any indication of how homosexuals surf then maybe I need to start experimenting a bit. I’m a Gold Coast surfer and quite often see racial discrimination in the line up sadly mostly aimed towards the Japenese.

  • Michael Soule

    <—- Real Name
    Rt Thank you! No one seems to understand that it is not only about being called out in the water but about the whole stereotypical nonsense that lingers all around the surfing world in general… On the beach, in the parking lot, in the surf shop, in the water, where ever… It does happen and if you don't think it does then You either have selective hearing or you are Totally blind…
    Oh and Yes Rt… You Are Correct! I have been shaping since 1989! ;)
    Aloha Nui!

  • pedroj

    I’m fed up about all the gay lame thing…every where have their article about how difficult bla bla…boring…that’s all

  • http://www.surferdad.co.uk Andrew Norton

    For such an easy going community, you’d hope homophobia among surfers would be rare. I guess I’m being too optimistic.

  • gareth

    Dont care what your sexuality is. Being out in a lineup is the ultimate equalizer, no one cares if your black, gay, muslim, christian, girl, boy, rich, poor, democrat, republic, only how good you surf and if your on the inside. All that other shit is what life in general has to deal with. When I surf all that crap goes out the window. I understand it might matter if your trying to make a living from surf but 99% of us dont. Its what we do to enjoy ourselves. If Im out at a heavy surf spot and this awesome wave comes in the last thing ever to cross my mind is if the surfers who are out with me are gay. The ocean dont care and I believe society is also moving in the same direction, just a little slower.

  • pat

    huh huh i’ll let you ride my stick bru huh huh

  • Woody

    NOBODY CARES IF UR GAY! So quit advertising it and whining about it. All you gays want is attention… if you cant surf then stay out of the way… if you can then who cares if ur gay?

  • Brett

    For not caring a bunch some of you sure have strong negative opinions. Woody- I’m not hearing a bunch whining – well other than from you…and Pedro…Maybe you need to check that anger out.

    I don’t care who’s in the line up with me, ( seen many blacks out lately? Just a thought), at my local break most of my friends don’t like anyone from out of the area surfing their spot.
    I get this gay thing though, not going to make me give up a wave to anyone over, but ok let’s as a surf community deal with our latent homophobia and then move on. Discrimination is something that needs constant vigilance. Specially in ourselves. There is a reason that this issue has become so visible lately. It needs to be aired out, dealt with and put away. Fighting for equality is like going to a spot like pipe with heavy locals and trying to get a wave. They don’t want to give you one but they don’t own the ocean.

    How many times you called a friend a Fag? Think that’s ok? What about the N word? ( bet if I used it here I’d been edited). Sometimes we take our rights for granted and can’t understand when someone says they want the samething as us.

    Sometimes we need shit like this to check ourselves and progress. I think if you’re all pissed off and tired of hearing about this gay thing you need ask yourself why? I don’t like baseball but I don’t get pissed off its on tv all the time. I just don’t watch it. If you don’t care about this issue fine, but no one has the right to keep anyone else down.

    Hey pipeline guys how about a wave next time

  • Michael Soule

    Why would Anyone comment if “They don’t Care?” Obviously You do Care… Or it wouldn’t bother you enough to go through the requirements to place a comment in the first place ;) Dig? So if your going to go through all that why not say something Positive?
    And Woody (comment below) Did you know how to surf when you first started? Did You Stay Out Of The Way? Please! Everyone Has a right to have access to the ocean and surf… No one should have the right to Judge… When you point a finger at someone, remember, there are three pointing back at YOU!

  • Dylan M

    Really lame that we have this many bigots and ignorant douchebags in the surfing community.

  • Jeff

    Surfing is not a group hug.
    It is an individual athletic activity. If you’re gay, fine. If you surf, fine. Why such a strong desire to let the world know who you are?
    The me generation. A wish to belong somewhere. Like a bunch of middle schoolers trying to new looks. Why does surfing need to be an identity?
    … and come on nobody’s said it yet…. “THOSE GUYS ARE FAGS!”

  • Rt

    Jeff – you have a point in your statement below. Unfortunately the “ME” is you. YOU don’t want to hear about this for how it impacts YOU.
    The act of surfing is individual, but no sport has a stronger identity or click. Think localism at your spot and tell me this is a sport about the individual.
    The whole industry of surfing is built around this carefully controlled identity. That control is strangling the sport and the identity.
    There are a number of pro women who are gay but cannot come out because there sponsor won’t allow it. Sure there are and have been gay pro men surfers. Ever heard of one? Exactly.
    This isn’t about wearing a tutu when you surf this about being able to simply be who god made you to be without fear- not something most gay surfers can do now.
    So stop acting like a middle schoolers and gro up.

  • http://trey_pen Trey Pendergraft

    Maybe it’s not “homophobia” ! A phobia means that you are afraid of it……Can’t someone just be sick and tired of hearing about someone proclaiming their sexual orientation……Wanna be gay, be gay. So why in the F are you telling me ?

  • jeff

    RT- What is the fundamental topic in your argument? And how can you tell me I don’t want to “hear about this” for how it impacts me? It does not impact me in any way what so ever. I’m not a professional surfer, and do not care that much about professional surfing, but this article is interesting to me (thus why i’m taking taking the time to comment).

    Let’s try an dissect your statements- “No sport has a stronger identity or click” – Really? Nascar, Football, Rugby?

    “Localism at my spot” – Yeah nobody cares what anyone else does outside of the water. If the top ripper were gay, he wouldn’t all of a sudden start getting dropped in on or shunned. I really think you are reaching on this one.

    “There are a number of pro women who are gay but cannot come out because there sponsor won’t allow it. Sure there are and have been gay pro men surfers. Ever heard of one?” – YUP, heard of a few buddy. Everyone knows Kassia Meador is gay (or Bi, whatever) and I’m not seeing how that has hurt her career in anyway. She was the poster woman for the ROXY ad campaigns before the brand went under. Personal wetsuit line, signature fin, signature surf boards etc… and she’s not 100% hetero. She isn’t marketed the way Alana Blanchards rear end is, yet still sells tons of product and people generally adore and admire her act.

    This clip features Cori Schumacher complaining about not being able to be pro anymore because shes gay? Maybe it’s just because she is old, not that good, Longboarding doesn’t have $, and she’s irritating in general (read her inertia articles). I’m interested in what she has to say because I think the reality is often pros simply can’t hold sponsors because of their personality’s. Think Kalani Robb. Totally rips but is a well known pain in the ass to deal with and got dropped from sponsor after sponsor. Same for Bobby. Both are straight. Both are difficult.

    Hypothetically speaking, if Dane Reynolds were gay and came out of the closet, do you really think Quik would drop him and people would stop frothing over his webclips, or people would stop buying neckebeards? I don’t. I’m sorry i’m just not seeing your points.

  • Rt

    Ok Jeff, lets go through this:

    1: Let’s try an dissect your statements- “No sport has a stronger identity or click” – Really? Nascar, Football, Rugby?

    No sport has a lifestyle that is as intrinsically participated in as surfing. The lifestyle of surfing is greater than the sport. That can’t be said about NASCAR football or rugby. I’m not debating the size of the sport or the people that watch it.

    2: “Localism at my spot” – Yeah nobody cares what anyone else does outside of the water. If the top ripper were gay, he wouldn’t all of a sudden start getting dropped in on or shunned. I really think you are reaching on this one

    Lets not forget that localism is created by groups that hangout on land as well as surf together. Its about being part of something. Localism is not all beatings and bullshit. it can be quit positive. So where are you going to get information about a gay surfer being dropped in on or shunned by other locals at a local spot? From straight surfers? Maybe you should listen to what’s being said by gay surfers instead of simply assuming your right. This documentary is the first of its kind to bring these stories to light.
    I don’t believe anyone in this doc. are asking for special favors. It’s just about bringing something to light. There’s is no question that gay kids are abused and killed almost daily just for being who they are.

    3: As to women in surfing. You make a lot of assumptions. (Cori Schumacher to old), she’s 27 I believe. She quit at the top of the sport. For an informative look at this topic here’s a read for you…
    http://www.theinertia.com/business-media/why-womens-surfing-is-in-the-deep-end/

    4. Hypothetically speaking, if Dane Reynolds were gay and came out of the closet, do you really think Quik would drop him and people would stop frothing over his webclips, or people would stop buying neckebeards? I don’t. I’m sorry i’m just not seeing your points.

    Oh it would certainly impact him, but someone of Danes caliber coming out would be a defining moment and completely change the current perspective. But lets step it down a few notches.
    How about a younger competitive surfer starting his career as a pro. Say some kid about 17 with an excellent amateur career but not proven on the big stage. Do you think he’d get an unbiased chance if he announce he was gay?

    That’s why it matters and part of my point.

    Let me ask you when the last time you called someone a “fag” in the water?
    Is that ok? Is it ok to call a black person the N word?
    Gay kids and adults are abused, threatened, ostracized, beat up, even killed daily. In this country. Is that ok? Did you know that in most states and countries you can be denied housing, lose jobs, even thrown in jail just for being gay.

    If you did a little research you would find that every negative argument on this comments page alone has a direct correlation to the arguments made against blacks in the country 30-40 years ago.

    Sexuality is not a choice that’s is a statistically proven fact, backed by ever major medical, psychological and scientific organization in the world.

    This is nothing more than an equal rights issue. Something this country was founded on “all men are created equal”

    The arguments in surfing are “just surf we don’t want to hear it”. But again it’s not about just surfing its about that friend of yours that is gay that you don’t know about not being able to live full life because you don’t want to hear about. Or that kid who wants a career as a surfer that can’t be who he is.

    Instead of immediately discounting the stories told in this documentary perhaps you should listen to what they have to say with out prejudice.
    I don’t believe there’s is a grand conspiracy here.
    That is the point Jeff

  • Anonymous

    I’m gay and one of the best surfers in my country. I have never came out and i don’t plan on it but after seeing this trailer i think i will wait to see the film and make an opinion then.
    For people saying ”gay people whining again, and if they didn’t go on about it so much then there wouldn’t be so much hate against people” you are wrong and missing the point of this movie being made. It’s being made so that youngsters and other surfers who are in the closet will not feel the need to be in the closet any longer and feel acceptance that it is ok to be g.a.y!
    Surfing is a macho sport and it’s all about respect in and out of the water. I think a lot of gay surfers (well i definitely do) feel being gay makes you less of a man and people will judge you. Maybe that’s no the case as long as you charge!
    I think its about time someone made a surf film on this topic and i was only thinking about why people haven’t made one recently. I think its a great thing and it might help people out big time who are struggle coming to terms with there sexuality in the surf world. I just wish they made this film a few years ago when i was a grom. I know it would of made growing up for me accepting myself and traveling with surf teams a lot much easier.

    Thanks dudes

  • Rt

    Anon
    Cool comment, perfectly stated.
    Good luck with whatever you do

  • aec

    to all those guys that are complaining that as gay people, we all proclaim it too much, talk about it too much, make you think about it too much, all i have to reply is this; think of the world you face everyday and how often you hear your friends, family, random strangers, media, etc talk about how hot this girl is, or you went out this one, or this chick you were with last night was so sexy, etc. and now replace that heternormative reality with a gay one, and we are no different than you. i personally don’t talk that much about my sexuality or who i’m with, but that is just my personality, however a lot of gay guys are, well, guys, who think, talk and dream about sex constanty just like all of you.

  • DJ

    For u guys that say u don’t care. Then why do constantly make sure no guy is checking u out when u r changing into or out of your wetsuit? I see it time and time again. It’s a combination of elements the make up the homophobia. The ones that don’t care. How many gay surfer friends do u have? How many would make friends with a surfer if he knew he was gay? The ones that say they are” tired of hearing it “are the very ones I’m talking about. Str8 guys don’t say that to each other.

  • Thomas

    The documentary “OUT in the line-up” is almost finished :

    Check out our KICKSTARTER campaign and new video! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/outinthelineup/out-in-the-line-up-a-film-about-homosexuality-in-s