An essay on Brian Anderson, gay skateboarders, our inclusive culture, and mainstream ignorance.
This week, I caught wind through my Facebook news feed that Brian Anderson had “come out” as skateboarding’s first openly gay, professional skateboarder. This news flash was immediately picked up worldwide… no joke… by “the mainstream media”. The New York Times covered it.
Rolling Stone covered it. The Independent covered it. The Guardian UK covered it. A whole host of LGBT media sites covered it, as might be expected. And then, I had those thirty or so Facebook flashes, reminding me of it (just in case I lived in a cave, and I somehow managed to forget all about it for a few brief seconds). Brian immediately became a beloved bellweather for the movement, as he well deserves I suppose. He is, by all accounts, a really great guy and an incredible skater. Regardless of whatever his sexual orientation might be.
Which led me immediately to this question: Why in the world is this even news…? What’s the story here…? Is this really, “new” news? Or, is it just “new” to everybody that’s not actually a skateboarder…?
First of all, I was kind of surprised that the story line was that he “finally came out”. I was only surprised by this because I had either taken for granted, or dumbly assumed, that he had actually “come out” eons ago. I mean, I knew he was gay. Most people I know, knew he was gay. I’m pretty sure that most of the industry knew he was gay. But just to be sure, I made a few calls and conducted a quickie survey.
“Hey, did you know Brian Anderson was gay…?”
“When did you find out…?”
“Oh, I don’t remember. Maybe, 2009 or so…?” (By the way: most of my respondees all found out Brian was gay around the same time, which I found peculiarly interesting.)
“Oh, okay. Just checking. Thanks.”
If the fact that Brian Anderson was gay was some sort of “closely guarded secret”, well then, I guess it has to rank up there as one of the worst-kept secrets in all of skateboarding. Because it really wasn’t much of a secret to anybody. Anybody that I know, at least.
Maybe the real story was just how quick Brian’s “sudden announcement” was embraced by the rest of the skateboarding world. But then, I wasn’t really surprised by that either. Skateboarders are well-known to be a subculture that pretty much openly accepts everybody, regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, economic standing, or any other divide that you could possibly conjure up. Skateboarders pretty much see the world in terms of either skaters, or non-skaters… and that’s it. Why they would pick this week to suddenly ostracize some poor skater for some wholly insignificant reason, is just a little bit beyond my imagination. Now if Brian rollerbladed, that would be a different story. That, my frenemies, would be the end of the entire world. But, gay…? Meh.
It’s not like Brian is the first openly gay skateboarder, either. Maybe that’s why this isn’t really “news”. I clearly remember Jarret Berry, who graced the cover of Big Brother’s “Gay Issue” in the mid ’90s… which was, of course, a “taboo” that was charcteristically approached in Big Brother’s nonsensical, over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended) manner. Big Brother even crossed out the “g” so that it read “Bi Brother”, which made them all apparently gay by association. And then we have their subsequent project, Dickhouse Productions, which uses the gay-pride rainbow as their corporate logo. But I don’t remember any skate movement to go burn down Big Brother’s offices in a fit of homophobic rage, or any skate-related movement to boycott Jackass The Movie. Maybe Jarret remembers it differently. But as far as I could tell, most skaters were pretty supportive of the whole shebang. It wasn’t even really “news” then, either. It was just another issue of the usual Big Bro hijinks.
I guessed the mainstream media also conveniently missed the Mike Carroll “NAMBLA” board non-controversy, while they were at it. I never really understood the whole point of that one… maybe Mike’s been trying to tell us something… but in any rate, nobody really seemed to make much of a ruckus about that one, either. If that wasn’t your vibe, well, there was always the Randy Colvin “Censorship” model that you could rock, just to prove to everyone just how hetero you were. Unless you were a girl buying that board, of course. But I’m clearly overthinking this stuff. Because to most skaters’ credit, nobody really thought much about any of this in the first place. They just bought boards, and skated them. Because that’s what skaters do. They don’t think. They just skate.
The Mainstream Media might be surprised to hear that there are not only gay skaters, but there are lesbian skaters too. And transgender skaters. Skaters don’t fear any of these things. Skaters, really, don’t fear much of anything at all. Any group of nutbags that will happily slide down a 30-stair handrail on their gonads, and not think twice about how much that might actually hurt, probably isn’t gonna give two tiny craps about your wee little homophobias.
There were gay skateboarders even before Jarret, naturally enough. Jarret wasn’t the “first”. He may have been the “first” to get on the cover of a major skateboard magazine in assless chaps, but that certainly doesn’t make him the very first gay skateboarder ever. They’ve always been here. I knew some personally, in fact. Great fellows. Funny guys. Great skaters. I don’t remember a single instance of anybody (besides ignorant non-skaters) ever giving them any grief at all. Shit, I don’t even remember it being a significant point of conversation. We were too busy talking about skating to worry too much about unrelated trivialities.
Maybe it’s all because I’m a by-product of the ’80s. In the ’80s, of course, we were all gay. And Satanists. And freaks. I’m not lying, that’s the God-honest truth. Any skater that grew up in the ’80s will surely remember some jackwagon driving by, yelling “Skater Fag!” at the top of their lungs. That happened pretty regularly, actually. Virtually every day. Skaters… all skaters… regardless of whatever our actual sexual orientations might have been… were seen, and labeled, by the “public at large” (ie,”the mainstream”) as being gay as hell. So when an actual, bona-fide, true-blue, gay skater came along… it was like, “Oh really, you’re gay? Big damn deal. So are the rest of us, bubbo. Join the club.”
So, yeah. Brian came out last week, and spilled the beans on a secret that everybody basically knew, anyway. And he got a lot of genuine love and sincere support from his fellow skaters for having done so, as we all knew he would long before the fact. Commendable? Sure, I suppose.
But, newsworthy…? Not really. What justifies a big headline for the rest of the non-skating world is just another ho-hum, run-of-the-mill day in the life for us.
Maybe that’s “the story” that the mainstream media should be spinning. And maybe the rest of the mainstream world could learn a few things along the way about tolerance, acceptance, solidarity, and community from us lowly “gay skateboarders”.
For additional reading, check out this story from HUCK Magazine circa 2012.
Hello Jim. You have been shooting from the beginning of the second boom of skateboarding starting in the 1970’s.
1- Why do you love to shoot skateboarding ?
I love to photograph skateboarding because I love to skateboard. As a skater myself, nothing is more fun than capturing the energy and vibe that makes skateboarding so special. And as an artist, photographing skating is a natural expression of my passion for skateboarding.
2- How did you get into it ?
I started out as a skater, but after breaking my arm in a skate accident I took up photographing it while I was recovering. Over time, I skated less and shot photos more, which eventually developed into a career.
3- Did you ever stop shooting ?
I had to cut back on my skate photography after going to work as the general manager and team coach at Gullwing, and again during my time as managing editor at TransWorld Skateboarding magazine. After leaving the skateboarding scene in 1986, I continued as a photographer but didn’t start shooting skating again until decades later.
4- What is your best skateboarding memory?
There were so many over the years. Traveling and experiencing the worldwide skate scene while shooting for SkateBoarder magazine was amazing, and creating and managing the Gullwing team was really special for me since we became such a close family. But the most memorable times were with my early skate buddies while discovering and skating all the great skate spots, and trying to stay one step ahead of the cops in pursuit of our passion.
Photo by Olivier Dezeque
Follow Jim on
* The FK Cancer Surf and Skate Festival December 17-18
* The Guajataca Beach Clean-Up in March 2017.
* The Guajataca Lifeguard Corps Training for Summer 2017.
* An Oceans-of-Hope Foundation event for the Summer of 2017, to help their handicapped citizens and disabled veterans share in the joy of surfing.
Editor’s Note: We are delighted to bring back Bud Stratford to our editorial lineup. Bud has a very unique take on skateboarding and he we know you’ll enjoy his stories.
Whenever Adam Richards plans a big day out, it’s always a day worth remembering.
Adam’s an incredibly motivated guy. He started out as the chief organizer of The Gray Beard Crew, the Phoenix area’s “old-guy skate club”. About a year (or so) into the Grey Beard program, there was some internal drama and dissent with the various Grey Beard founders. Of course, I had no idea at all that there were other Grey Beard founders; I’d always just assumed that Adam was the sole founder of the Grey Beards (probably because of his highly visible and infectiously energizing profile in the local skate scene)… but apparently I was mistaken on that one. In any rate, Adam left The Gray Beard Drama to start a parallel crew called “Prevent This Tragedy”.
It was around that time that he confided in me that he was organizing a “Skatercon” event for the following spring; the resulting Phoenix Skatercon was nothing short of a smashingly successful funfest for everyone involved. Making the short leap to local punk rock show organizer was probably the next logical step in Adam’s ambitions.
When most people think of a punk-rock show, they probably think of exactly that: a punk-rock show. Where you go and watch bands play music. Adam doesn’t think like most people; when he plans a punk-rock show, it’s an all-day adventure. My day started promptly at 7:00 am with a loud alarm, a shave (my head, not my face), a shower, and a big breakfast, so that I could be at Union Hills Skatepark in Glendale at 8:30 am sharp. That’s where the pre-show skate session was going to be, and I wasn’t going to miss the pre-show skate session for the whole damn world. Why more skaters don’t think to put together a pre-show skate session before the show is way beyond me, because it only makes perfect sense!
Union Hills is one of Phoenix’s many wonderfully free, concrete utopia skateparks. There has to be about ten of these skateparks spread around the valley; living here does kind of spoil me, I have to admit. There’s a “street” course that resembles a broken-up mini-bowl with obstacles; a very expansive mid-height bowl (about 6′ deep) with hips and corners everywhere; and a deeper, “Offset 8” shaped bowl that’s probably a solid 9′ feet deep, with about a foot (or so) of vert. This bowl is where the heavy action was going down under Ryan Swick’s fearless leadership, with an assortment of bullish grinds (stand-up frontsides and Smiths), lipslides, and sweepers. Lanny Kearns was stunning the bystanders with burly backside and frontside inverts.
Chuck Treece (of McRad) came along to ride, and laid down lines all over the midsize bowl. The energy level was pretty high, and positively charged; it seemed like everybody was trying new stuff, and having a blast going for it. It was a photographer’s dream day, really.
Phoenix routinely clocks in high temps of well over 100 degrees, even in early September. Because of that, we had a bit of a siesta scheduled between noon and 7pm, when the doors were scheduled to open at the Yucca.
Helene (my date for the evening) and I got to the Yucca promptly at 7:00. Strangely, everybody else in charge got there promptly at 7:00, too. How refreshingly odd for skaters to actually show up, on time, and as scheduled.
Because we were so prompt, Helene and I scored the best seat in the house; an extremely plush and comfortable corner booth, where we could max and relax in style. The Yucca is a fairly old-school, historic venue (having been established in 1974, which was the beginning of time by Phoenix standards).
The Earlygrabs (the local favorites) and Since We Were Kids (a solid skate band hailing from Southern California) both put together slashing, punk-infused sets of overwhelming amplitude. Since We Were Kids were also peddling some mighty fine Grosso-shaped pool cues that you might wanna check out (they probably have an online merch store somewhere, like most bands do these days).
DFL was probably the most aggro of the bunch; their lead singer decided to screw the stage altogether, and sing straight from the pit…! How incredibly ballsy! Helene and I got a great gut laugh out of that one; you definitely don’t see that kind of gumption every day. The crowd, of course, ate it all up. It was quite a party in the pit, and everyone seemed to have a blast.
McRad was the headliner of the show. If you haven’t heard of McRad… well, you should have heard of McRad. They were Skate Rock staples on all those Thrasher comps we remember as kids; Chuck Treece also contributed a lot of tracks to the early Bones Brigade videos, most famously to Ray Barbee’s part in Ban This (ahh, it’s all coming back to you now!). Chuck’s still an extremely talented and energetic performer; watching him shred on stage, you’d be hard-pressed to imagine Chuck as a guy pushing his 50’s. He still looks (and plays) like somebody half his age. And all the guys in all the bands were just the nicest, coolest, most down-to-earth bunch of folks you could ever dream to meet. Hats off to them all.
We got an email about this incredible merging of skate and snow and frankly, we couldn’t resist.
Mountain Dew has come out with the ultimate cutting-edge super park – SuperSnake – the most insane hybrid skateboard (and snowboard) dream course with over 1,000 ft of skatelite and 14 skate features on-snow
Watch the official Mountain Dew SuperSnake trailer below:
Several months ago, Concrete Wave editor, Michael Brooke and I visited the first permanent Velosolutions pump track in the United States. At the time, it was solely managed by Ride Brooklyn Bike Shop as the Brooklyn Bike Park. Since then, Joner Strauss’ Skateboarding Supercross (SBSX) has stepped in to implement a stage of rebranding as this organization has taken over the management of the park.
To provide a bit of context, the idea of Skateboard Supercross came around six years ago as a byproduct of the International Distance Skateboarding Association. After partnering with Velosolutions, they are primed to take over the premier Brooklyn, USA location in an effort to sustain and deliver the experience of riding the pump track.
Enter new manager and professional competitive distance rider, Colby Cummings. The Portland, OR native is a self proclaimed “longboarder through and through,” here to get to know the community and build SBSX’s academy-style league with its members.
In a virtual sense, Skateboard Supercross acts as a networking platform with the potential to become a worldwide phenomenon. While still in its developmental stages, its mobile application connects Velosolutions’ other two permanent US tracks (in Leavenworth, WA and Oklahoma City, OK) and letsriders compare the fastest times logged at each track. This close relationship will confirm who the top riders of each track are and will clarify the metrics and objectivity of what makes a rider victorious.
Velosolutions Pumptrack Brooklyn operated by SBSX – the official video:
In a physical sense, the Cummings and Strauss are looking forward to programming a never before designed league with an A-Z path of progression for skateboarding. The league will be established from the bottom up and will provide the events needed to make use of the track’s prime location. This space is, as Strauss called it, “a community anchor that has yet to be showcased.” In the same way that Skateboard Supercross was influential in helping Velosolutions construct its pump tracks in a way more conducive to skateboarding, they seek to invest in the youth by creating a community that is conducive to learning how to ride and experience the magic of balance.
Strauss hopes that SBSX will give skateboarding and more specifically, longboarding, the educational foundation it’s never had. Looking comparatively at other mainstream sports, most have a sustainable future because of the educational programs in place that breed its future participants. Similarly, SBSX plans to broaden their influence with the help of Velosolutions to construct more pump tracks across the nation. Through the interconnectedness of their app, Cummings and Strauss believe they can help overcome the cyclical pitfalls that skateboarding has fallen victim to.
Above all, Cummings and Strauss advise that anyone wishing to experience the feeling of pure stoke, regardless of age or skill level, come to the track to try their hand at it.
If you are looking to get involved in the movement, you can access the SBSX database they have created to help local skaters become local ambassadors. Visit their website here.
Your work is almost, actually not almost, but everywhere. You started painting those characters on the covers of magazines, ads along with collaborations with bunch of brands. You are French and you got a huge amount of exposure in skateboarding in only few years. We don’t know how you did that, but we have 4 questions for you:
1- Why combine skateboarding and painting?
Skateboarding is the best thing ever ! I can’t see my life without it. To be honest with you, skateboarding gave me this need to paint. I remember when I was a kid, I wasn’t interested by the brand but more about the graphic.
2- How do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from everywhere, from where I eat to how I make love. If you open your eyes and you take the time to see what is around you, you will feel me.
3- What is your goal ?
My goal is to bring something special to the world. I don’t want to come out with something that you see everyday. It’s weird to say but come on, what’s the point to be transparent with no goals in life? I’m currently traveling the world, I need it so much, I can’t stay to one place more than 2 months.
4- What do you dream about?
I would love to paint a plane or a building, I have big dreams and want to achieve them.
Follow Lucas Beaufort on:
Facebook : Beaufort.lucas
Instagram : @lucas_beaufort
website : www.lucasbeaufort.com
Portrait by Francois Marclay
Tibs Parise, originally from Nice, France. Growing up as a skater he and his fellow riders would apply a French green clay paste on their road rash and bruises.
Tibs is now based in San Diego, California and couldn’t find a similar green clay product here. So Tibs decided to create something by himself.
He started the company in January 2016 with his partner, and built the first ready-to-use French Green Clay paste in North America.
With 100% organic, chemical free, high quality ingredients, and clinically proven formula, the product assists in the healing most of injuries. These include from road rashes to inflammation, and more.
With his network in the skateboarding industry and action sports, he decided to produce samples to give away to X-Games athletes and other riders to see their reaction. All the feedback came back positive. Concrete Wave also had the opportunity to try one of the samples, and they found it to very beneficial.
So in conjunction with Concrete Wave, Tibs is launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise $4,000.
Click here to go to the fundraiser page: http://www.concretewavemagazine.com/funding
Hello Bill, I remember to meet you years ago, you were for me just an “old” guy riding a skateboard. But seeing you riding and enjoying it, I learned, you were not an “old” skateboarder, you are a truly inspiring skateboarder and an “old” bro. Skateboarding is like something you share with love with every skateboarders.
It has been now 10 years since we talked about the OldBro on Concrete Wave, so let me ask you 4 questions:
1- Why do you love skateboarding ?
I love skateboarding for so many reasons. Mostly because of the friends and relationships I’ve made along the way. There have been so many experiences and amazing good times that skateboarding has given to me that I feel I could never repay the debt! I have tried by giving back in every way I can. I started a skate program in Egypt that has got hundreds of kids on skateboards for the first time that would have never had the chance before. We built the first and only skate park in Egypt and I am very proud of that and the guys who helped make that happen. I’ve never skated in a single skateboard contest because I never felt the need to prove anything to anybody when it comes to skateboarding. I’ve always only ever done it for one reason, because I love it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it. I honestly feel like I could never give back enough to make up for what skateboarding has given me.
2- How did you start skateboarding ?
I started skateboarding for real in 1972 when I was 13 years old. I had ridden around on one either on my knee or my butt for as long as I can remember but when I was 13, I started surfing. I lived about a half hour inland in Arcadia CA. but my mom would take us to the beach every weekend and then every day in the summer, my mom loved the beach. I started surfing and knee boarding and just couldn’t get it out of my head, so when I was stuck in Arcadia I just always wanted to get that feeling of surfing! So we would “sidewalk surf” it was driveways and hills, then ditches and reservoirs then empty pools and finely in 1976, it was skate parks! I skated everything and kept surfing too. I got a job at Skatopia in 197, in Buena Park and moved to Newport Beach, then in 1978 I moved down to San Diego’s North county and helped build and worked at the Del Mar Skate Ranch until 1980. I’ve been fortunate to have made friends early on with the Dog Town guys, the San Gabriel Valley crew, the IE crew and the Down South crews. And we are still friends today, forty years later.
3- What does Old Bro mean ?
Old Bro comes from the Old Bro bowl that was built by a group of Old Guys in 2006. I went to a Skatopia 30th reunion and was talking to a bunch of guys, some I had known for thirty plus years and some I had just met, and we said how we should build a skate spot that we could all enjoy. I had a big backyard just blocks from the beach and the Old Bro was borne. That day people who I had just met, wrote me checks or committed to funds or materials and we started building. My wife Pat was always on board with the whole idea. We built a really fun bowled in mini ramp that was featured in CW that year but we were soon forced to sell the house, so we had to cut the ramp up and move it to our new house. Once again my wife was adamant that any home we bought, had to have room for the Old Bro. So we moved the ramp and soon people from all over the country and the world came to skate “the Old Bro” soon those became “Old Bro sessions” and the “Old Bro Crew” started growing and people started referring to sessions all over S.D.’s North county as “Old Bro Sessions” no matter where they went down.
I soon realized that Old Bro was more of a feeling, a vibe or a way that you referred to your long time friends and acquaintances and stopped being about the ramp. It is now a brand and sort of a movement. a way that we all just connect with one another. I talk to guys all over the country and the world and we instantly connect because, we are Old Bro’s.
4- Do we have to be old to be old bro ?
Ha! no. you don’t have to be old. I often say that everybody has an Old Bro, or is one, or knows one. If you are a 14 year old kid but you have a buddy that you’ve known since you were 6, well he’s your Old Bro! or you are a 30 something dude and you’ve got a friend form collage or you have this friend that was a friend of your old man’s, or that 14 year old looks up to you, you either are, have, or know an Old Bro, and you are an Old Bro to someone. And this goes for any type of activity, not just skating because it can be so many things that bring us together and make us appreciate our Old Bro’s.
Thank you my friend Tibs for asking me these questions, you are truly an Old Bro.
Follow the OldBro on
Facebook: the Old Bro Group page