A ground-breaking documentary about gays in the surfing community, OUT In The Line-Up hopes to change surf culture.
Many of us are told from a young age how important it is to be ourselves because “there’s no one you-er than you.” We know equality should span all walks of life, from tradies to musicians to pro-surfers but sadly, this is not the case for some.
Whether you’re black, white, gay or straight – if you’re in the minority – acceptance seems to be difficult.
“The surfing community has drifted away from its roots of being open, tolerant and counterculture, because of the rise of the commercialisation of the sport,” says director Ian Thomson. “When we started to look at the issue of homosexuality in surfing we discovered a culture of secrecy and exclusion. I wanted to create a film that would open people’s minds and encourage all members of the surfing community to be more accepting of those who are different.”
He found the key to his catalyst for change when he met Thomas Castets, the founder of gaysurfers.net – the world’s first global website for gay surfers. “Thomas introduced me to the many interesting surfers who had compelling stories to tell, and we decided we needed to make a documentary to give them a voice,” he says.
After being completed just last week, the world premiere is already sold out. OUT In The Line-Up tells the story of Thomas Castets as well as former state champion and fellow gay surfer David Wakefield. The film shows their journey from Australia to Hawaii, California, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands to meet other gay surfers and shed light on what it’s like to be homosexual, in a predominantly straight surfing community.
In the film, three time world long-board champion Cori Schumacher said that her homosexuality led her to walk away from the sport.
For ex-pro surfer Robbins Thompson, his struggle with losing his boyfriend in a tragic car accident when they were both 16, led him to near suicide. He felt he had to hide his grief from his surfing community – as he felt confined by the expectations of himself having to be seen as straight, in order to be accepted.
A study shows that gay and lesbians are four times more likely to take their own life than heterosexuals.
Director Thomson explains “It makes me realise how important it is to get this film out to the world, and bit-by-bit change people’s perceptions around what it is to be gay.”
“Many of the LGBT surfers we spoke to avoid making their true identities obvious in their surfing communities because they fear being rejected by them.
“In certain parts of today’s world, it’s become much easier to accept an our differences, but if you look at cultures like Russia and the Middle East, it could still cost you your life to come out as being gay. On a societal level it would be great if we could all become more embracing of our differences. I think diversity is a very cool thought for the world,” Thomson says.
“The message that the film brings across, is well summarised in David Wakefield’s final words in the film – that in order to truly live your passions in life, whether that be surfing or anything else – you can not hide your true self.” – Heba Dandachi
Top photo: Still from the trailer of the documentary OUT In The Line-Up.