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The Taboo of Gay Surfers

Thomas CastetA far cry from the hyper-sexualised image of surfers, the film “Out in the Line Up” takes us to the most beautiful spots in the world to meet a gay community determined break taboos.

As the Australian film “Out in the Line Up,” by Ian Thomson addresses homosexuality in the surf world, inevitably there are questions to be answered. How are gays surfers an interesting enough subject for a film? After all, nobody would have the idea to make a documentary about gay accountants. The answer is provided by Thomas Castets, producer behind the film and creator of the website gaysurfers.net: “People do not imagine that homosexuals can surf, because in reality they think that someone gay does not do dangerous sports.” For this French surfer who has been living in Australia for many years, it was originally to avoid the perpetuation of homosexual stereotyping and to make this reality visible. However as it was being filmed another reality came to light with each encounter: gay surfers preferred to keep their sexual preference quiet through fear of being discriminated, through fear of being excluded from their surfing community.

What is this fear based upon? “We wanted to ask surfers, sponsors and federations but no-one responded. The reality is that people do not know what to say. That is when we became aware that there is a real taboo.” The film’s success lies in the fact that it undermines this silence, this ignorance at times, by making the gay surfing community visible. “This visibility, is not for the film protagonists, we know who we are, we accept it, but it is for the others, those who fear showing what they really are,” specifies Thomas. “Everywhere I go in the world, I meet homosexual surfers and we are happy to meet, not to sleep together, but because we have something to share. Some people accuse us of ‘communitarianism,’ but when people are not at peace with themselves, it is very important to meet people who are experiencing the same things. There is mutual aid and support available. ” The community that has been created mainly around the website is a source of inspiration for those making the plunge to face their “coming-out” and be able to be themselves without hiding.

Alexandra Sigaudo-Fourny