In an interview with Vice Sports that was released Tuesday, pro skateboarder Brian Anderson announced that he is gay:
“My name is Brian Anderson, I’m a professional skateboarder, and we are here to talk about the fact that I am gay,” Anderson tells Vice’s Giovanni Reda a few minutes into the 26-minute special.
In the opening minutes of the video, Mike Carroll and Sam Smyth — the co-founder and team manager, respectively, of Girl Skateboards, by whom Anderson was sponsored for over a decade — remark how Anderson always marched to the beat of his own drum throughout his nearly 20-year career.
Anderson is both introspective and lighthearted throughout the video, noting that one of the first times he knew he was gay was when, as a child, he found himself drawn to the character Bluto in Popeye cartoons.
He jokes that since the type of guy he’s typically attracted to resembles a burly character (like the bearded Bluto), he never felt awkward around fellow skaters.
“I’m not attracted to skateboarders at all, so I always felt more comfortable because I was never looking at them in that way,” Anderson remarked.
“I think I was more looking at the cops that would kick us out of spots. I’d be like, ‘We’re getting kicked out? Yay, I get to check somebody out.'”
But Anderson also addressed serious issues in the interview, including how hearing sexual slurs in conversation frequently throughout his youth made him afraid to talk about his sexuality.
Anderson’s announcement is monumental in the sense that, to date, he is by far the most visible professional skateboarder to come out of the closet.
As the winner of Thrasher Magazine’s 1999 “Skater of the Year” award and a 1999 World Cup Skateboarding street title, Anderson’s credentials in the world of skateboarding are unquestionable.
Pro skateboarder Jarret Berry also came out as gay in a 2002 issue of Big Brother Magazine, but Berry’s clout in the skateboarding world pales in comparison to Anderson’s.
His decision to go public is daring when viewed in the context of how past attempts by gay skateboarders to address their sexuality have been handled.
As noted by Huck Magazine, when amateur skateboarder Tim Von Werne tried to come out to SKATEBOARDER in 1998, his sponsor, Birdhouse Skateboards, made sure the interview never ran in the magazine.
According to Von Werne, that effectively ended his dreams of a pro career.
Since Anderson’s announcement, the response from the skateboarding industry on social media has been overwhelmingly supportive:
Just watched @vicesports on Brian Anderson @nolimitsoldier being a gay professional skateboarder & the struggle he has gone though. Could see it in the way you spoke, liberated, free and finally, completely yourself. I wish our world was mature enough 15 years ago for you to come out & be who you really are without thinking you may loose everything you worked for for being a little different. But it's about now. It's a new world. Thanks for being one of the greatest skateboard inspirations. You fucking rule #skateroftheyear
I still fan out when I see Brian Anderson. He is just the baddest dude. The look he had on his face riding up to the front blunt on hubba hideout in "welcome to hell" ( pictured on the right) showed what type of skater the dude is. BA, thank you for what you have done/are doing/ and will do for skateboarding. You've been a huge inspiration to myself and countless others. @nolimitsoldier
#BrianAnderson has ALWAYS been a huge inspiration to me growing up skating. One of my all time favorite skateboarders. Just so raw, so powerful. This @vicesports piece on him brought tears of joy to my eyes. You, @nolimitsoldier , continue to inspire. Thank you for your strength and courage. You are a true legend. Do yourself a favor and "get with it" as Phelps says and checkout this amazing piece! #BAforPresident #skatersagainsthomophobia #nationalBAday #BeTrue
“I think [his coming out] is huge for skateboarding and it’s awesome and he’s the perfect dude to do it,” Blair Alley, TRANSWORLD SKATEBOARDING‘s online editor, told GrindTV.
“Not only is he a gnarly skater, he’s a super-nice dude who a lot of skaters look up to and who, if you ever do meet him, exceeds all your expectations.”
Alley says that Anderson is so revered that even though his sexuality was known within the industry for years, the skate community respected his privacy.
“Everyone in the industry knew, like, 10 years ago,” said Alley. “And everyone respected him so much that nobody put him out there and outed him to the public.
“We never knew if he would do it, but it’s awesome he did. Skateboarding should be on the forefront of expression and setting trends, and we should have more openly gay skaters.”
The biggest point that Alley made when talking about Anderson is how, above all else, his ability on a skateboard will always be what he is most remembered for.
“I know Brian said he was afraid to have his sexuality define him, and that he didn’t want to be the poster boy of a ‘gay skater,'” Alley said.
“I don’t think anyone would ever say that. It’s Brian Anderson: He’s an iconic skater first, and yeah, he was also gay.”
Forty-year-old Anderson lives in Queens, New York, and continues to skate professionally for Nike SB.
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