Out In The Line-Up or the Taboo of Homosexuality in Surfing

The documentary “OUT In The Line-Up” will be showed in the “Surfilm Festibal 2014” in San Sebastian, June 7. 

SEBSTIANE AWARD  supports this screening and interview its producer Thomas Castets.

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Is OUT IN THE LINE UP a road movie speaking about surf and homophobia? A documentary about the freedom of surfing and the desire?

OUT IN THE LINE UP is a road-movie which tries to understand why there is a taboo about homosexuality in surfing. The documentary follows two guys, one French and another Australian, who travel around the world to the search of other gay surfers. Then, they discover an emerging gay surfing community representing a new surfing culture, more open-minded and responsible.

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Is it necessary for surf the creation of homosexual references?

There has never been an openly male gay surfer on tour. Gay surfers have simply not been visible, and people who have never heard of a gay surfer think that gay people simply don’t surf. I think that «role models» are very important and if the surfing establishment accepted to talk about the topic of homosexuality in surfing there would be less fear of being discriminated against and less fear of dealing with it.

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Is the homophobia or the discrimination to women related only to the pro surfing environment?

The taboo is just as strong in amateur as it is in professional surfing but most of our initial contact was with pro surfers. We’ve found that pros are often particularly confronted by the issue because of the conflict that comes from presenting an image that is a long way removed from your sense of identity. If you like, the pros flagged the issue which caused us to conduct further research across the entire surfing communitypros, amateurs and commentators alike. The diversity depth of experiences on this issue became clear pretty quickly and we knew we had a good doc in the making.

We looked at the issue of homosexuality in surfing within all sectors of the surfing community. We started collecting the perspectives of everyday surfers. Then we found a couple of professional surfers who are gay (Most are retired from pro surfing but one is currently on tour). We also looked for the perspective of the industry, academics, psychologists, gay & straight…

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Since 2006, Australian cinema has done several small films about this issue (gay and surf), and even Hollywood has shot Shelter too, in 2007. Your documentary is Australian and you interview Northern and Latin Americans, Asians…, but not a single European surfer… What is it happening? Are not there gays in European surf?

We have interviewed gay surfers in Australia, USA and Latin America, but in Europe nobody has wanted to be interviewed.

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Why should we watch your film?

Certain parts of the world have indeed become more tolerant and accepting of homosexuality over the past decade, but there are still over 82 countries where it is illegal to be gay. Gay teenagers are still being killed in countries like Iran, Uganda and Russia.

In terms of surfing, it seems that it really hasn’t evolved much since the 90s. When you compare surfing to other sports, where gay athletes have come out in recent years: rugby, soccer, basketball, NFL, – and many sports associations are implementing anti-homophobia policies, surfing seems a step behind these other sports. But surfing is now reaching a broader range of social classes, genders, races and sexualities. The old stereotypes of the white alpha male and the bikini-clad surfer babe are no longer relevant, yet the surfing industry still sticks to them, convinced it is the best way to market the sport. But by doing so surfing seems to have lost its connection with its grass roots ideals of diversity, freedom and individuality.

 

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In addition to the production of this documentary, you created in 2010 www.gaysurfers.net site. Before this, there was not something similar on internet. This is strange, isn’t it?

Before 2010 if you typed in « Gay » and « Surf » on the internet all you would have found was porno. But gaysurfers.net has made a lot of waves on the net and there are now loads of documents, photos, articles and now a whole documentary about the topic of homosexuality in surfing, on the GS website but also on surf magazines, gay magazines and all sorts of publications have covered the developing of the community. A lot of gay surfers were looking for a site like this where they could meet others like them who shared not only their passion for surfing but also common experiences feeling isolated as a gay surfer.

The line-up is not the most appropriate place to discuss your sexuality and it seems that many surfers think that you should keep your sexuality to yourself. However I do believe it is very important to be able to be who you are. Most gay people feel that they have to hide their sexuality for fear of rejection. I believe that living in fear holds you back in life-perhaps even as a surfer. Many of the top surfers we spoke to said they started surfing better when they were no longer hiding part of themselves.

The website www.gaysurfers.net now has over 5000 members around the world, so there may be more gay surfers out in the line-up than you would first think.

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« Westerly : A Man, A Woman, An Enigma » is a film about a transsexual woman who was the first Australian surfer star. Are there transsexual people in your site (gaysurfers.net)?

Yes, there are several trans in this site but they are not many.

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There are over 400 members in France and 200 in Spain, but they are not as visible in social network as  Americans or Australians.  I think many European gay surfers are afraid of being labeled as such within its surf community and therefore prefer to remain anonymous.

OUT IN THE LINE-UP film will be screened in San Sebastian Surf Film Festival,  the 7th of June, and in International Surf Festival of Anglet by mid-July. We invite all gay surfers, but also to all lovers of the sea and the waves, and culture lovers too, to come and see the film and surf with us!

Thomas Castets / Premio Sebastiane 2014

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