Get Over The Rainbow

April 6, 2011 in Art, Articles by thomasadmin

GAYSURFERS.NET IS FIGHTING HOMOPHOBIA IN THE LINE UP.
TEXT ED ANDREWS & ILLUSTRATION JON BOAM
“Gay surfers don’t have pink surfboards and they don’t want a rainbow slapped on them. Surfing is way more important to them than their sexuality,” says Thomas, founder of Gaysurfers.net.
The site began in February 2010 after Thomas, who was born in France but now resides in Australia, had struggled to meet any other gay surfers on his travels. Unable to find a community online, he decided to start his own. The response was super positive and the site now boasts over 2,500 members worldwide, providing a place for surfers who happen to be gay to offer advice, find support and share their love of surfing.
“I found very quickly that a lot of gay surfers were not ‘out’ in front of their friends,” says Thomas, who pays credence to this social taboo by choosing not to reveal his surname. “Everyone accepts everyone else in the surf: we share waves, we learn about each other and it’s a fucking great sport, but for some reason it has grown a reputation of being homophobic.”
It’s not that surfing is inherently bad: for every mind closed by ignorance, there is undoubtedly plenty that remain open wide. But far
from being simply a microcosm of the prejudice that exists in society, Thomas believes the problem lies deeper within the surf industry – the product of macho, beer-swilling oafishness, bikini-clad, prize-giving models and pejorative use of the word ‘gay’ by many surf stars.
“[They are] forgetting the spirit of surfing, which is [about] being all together with the ocean and getting a higher level of life,” says Thomas. Indeed, Thomas believes that many brands and pro surfers, although privately supportive of what he is doing, are still scared that public endorsement would “darken their image”.
But if surfing should be about unity, could a community based on one’s sexuality make segregation worse? “It’s a very tricky question,” admits Thomas, recognising the irony that the site will become redundant if it reaches its goal. “The site only exists because some people need to talk to others that are like them. If everyone was really open and tolerant, there wouldn’t need to be a site like this. […] Unfortunately some people can’t speak as freely on other websites and they need to feel that the audience comes from a similar perspective.”
www.gaysurfers.net