Thank you for giving me hope! (a youth perspective)

November 13, 2015 in Members' blogs by Aurelio Nader

imageI’m a 19 year old guy coming to terms with my sexuality.

I’ve been surfing since I was 12. I live in a small coastal township. I have a few friends, none of which are gay, let alone any in the township. I can relate to my friends with surfing but other than that we have not much in common. So I really understand the feeling of isolation people can feel. Lately I’ve drifted apart from them. We are all into different things and now that we are adults we are going off in our own directions and I’ve been surfing on my own for a while now. 

I came across “OUT in the lineup” on Netflix a few nights ago. I found myself having a life changing moment. It’s like this movie was made for me. To tell me that I’m not abnormal. That I can be myself. That I can be happy. But more importantly, that I’m not the only one.

I don’t want my sexuality to define me as a person. I wanna be known as that guy who surfs, likes social media, plays PS4, skateboards, listens to hiphop and just so happens to be gay. (identifying myself as gay is a huge step for me)

I found myself agreeing with pretty much everything the interviewees shared. People were saying the exact same things I’ve had on my mind and in my heart for a long time now. THAT…floored me. I don’t feel abnormal anymore. This film really spoke to me and has given me courage. I’m not out yet, I’ll work towards it in baby steps eventually. Least I know there’s a community out there that I can belong to. That’s really empowering for me and I’m sure a lot of people like myself.

Seeing other gay and lesbian surfers who are happy and socialising gave me a huge smile. It’s funny how I thought I was the only one (naive really) because I’d never heard of or seen gay surfers, let alone professional gay surfers. And then to see gay and lesbian couples who have a happy life and surf together really moved me. I want that in my future. 

Those were major hardships these athletes had to endure coming up through the years. That’s the sort of thing that would break me. And here they are standing on the other side stronger. Mad love and respect to them. Again I was floored at the stories on suicide. I’ve had dark thoughts a time or two. I guess we all have. I’m strong enough to shrug that off. Others are not. My heart breaks for them. The surfing community still has deep seeded homophobic attitudes. I’ve seen and experienced it first hand. But it’s nice to see there are those who don’t care about orientation. l thought in this day in age people would be way more enlightened. It frustrated me that straight professionals avoided discussion on gays in the surfing community even though there are things going on around them that are linked. I mean really? Really? Like wow man! Wow!!! Hear no evil. Speak no evil. See no evil. I feel really empowered (pissed off actually) to get on board and help in some way to break down these walls. I don’t know what I can do to help but I want to.

Now that I know there is an international community of like minded people out there…I want to meet you, surf with you, ask about things that are on my mind and listen to what you have to say.

This is why signed up on the GS website and have started making contact with really good people. Even started making plans for surf meets. I wanna get in touch with people like me and be happy.

I’m grateful to the creators of this movie for opening my eyes, lifting a weight off my shoulder and empowering me to take steps to being myself. And thank you so much to the people who told their stories to us. Your courage is opening up my life. They made me smile, laugh, get choked up, feel empowered, feel frustrated yet more importantly…they made me “feel”. It’s been a long time since I felt strongly about something. 

Thank you for giving me hope!