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THANK YOU BRIAN ANDERSON

15pm // 16.05.2017

BA Layback Auckland Colen 950
BA celebrated New Zealand’s forward- thinking legalisation of same sex marriage with this gorgeous layback grind in Auckland. Is this bowl considered deep enough by his new sponsor, Anti-Hero? Wait, a gay dude rides for Anti-Hero... that’s too good! Photo: Ben Colen.

BA IS GAY, AND HERE’S WHY IT’S IMPORTANT FOR THE SKATEBOARDING COMMUNITY AT LARGE.

Words by Cameron Sparkes.

As you are all aware by now, Brian Anderson is gay. He publicly announced his sexual orientation to the world in October 2016 via a video interview conducted by Vice Sports, which featured testimonials from some of BA’s closest colleagues and friends. The interview definitely attracted attention beyond skateboarding, but it also proved that skateboarding can unanimously congratulate and celebrate Brian’s homosexuality.

I’m from Sydney, and like any Sydneysider, I’m no stranger to homosexuality. Whether you like it or not, homosexuality is a key ingredient to Sydney’s overall vibrancy, diversity and livelihood. We’re famous for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and our city rightfully celebrates and respects its homosexual residents. Along with the rest of the community, Sydney skateboarders are, for the most part, completely down with homosexuality.

Although BA’s announcement was, from what I could see, extremely well received, I noticed that a few people questioned his motives, suggesting that his sexual orientation is his business, and irrelevant when it comes to his skateboarding. I understand this logic, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who instantly knew what he was hoping to do. And believe me, it is vital for skateboarding.

For anyone in skateboarding who is struggling to come to terms with their sexual orientation, or with coming out, Brian’s announcement is huge. He has become the first person to show the world that skateboarding and homosexuality are not mutually exclusive. This is especially important for teenagers and young adults. His example has the potential to rescue people from a life filled with confusion, isolation, fear and mental turmoil.

I am in hope that his announcement will help others deal with internal conflicts of self-acceptance, ongoing personal battles, and help boost the confidence needed to nally be themselves. You may be wondering why I hold such a strong stance on this subject... Well, despite a tendency to occasionally kiss other boys on the lips (Rhys Grogan, I’m looking in your direction!), I consider myself straight, so I’m not referring to my own struggle.

However, unfortunately for my family and I, my cousin long suffered his own battles, including internalised homophobia, which ultimately led to depression and anxiety. This was potentially also accentuated by his conflicting religious beliefs. When these mental burdens became too great, he tragically took his own life. I was only 11 years old when he committed suicide; he was just 21.

At the time, my parents told me that my cousin had been involved in a horrible car accident and had died before an ambulance could arrive. They felt I might not have fully understood the circumstances surrounding his death, and they were probably right. When I was 14, my parents told me the truth about his death and the horrible battle he endured, unbeknownst to all around him. At 21, it really should have been the most enjoyable part of his life.

Although society has become dramatically more accepting of homosexuality over the years, inspirational people like Brian Anderson potentially save lives when they come out via such a public forum. I see BA’s honesty as brave, compassionate and extremely selfless. This act isn’t only about him telling us he’s gay, it’s about exemplifying to others that being gay is acceptable. I sincerely hope his words and the public response to them can help anyone who is unsure about coming out.

For me, Brian’s announcement has truly exposed the magnificent cultural values that are inadvertently attached to skateboarding. If you skate, you’re one of us, regardless of your ethnicity, religion, economic status or your sexuality. In October 2016, BA set the long overdue precedent that it’s OK to skate and be gay. Congratulations, Brian!

If you havent seen the BA doumentary, you can watch it here.