Pro skateboarding legend Brian Anderson has come out to the world as a gay man.
Anderson had his breakthrough year in 1999 when he won the World Cup of Skateboarding title in Dortmund, Germany and was was Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year.
‘I used skateboarding to not think about (meeting men). I knew I couldn’t do that,’ he tells Vice Sports.
‘I was terrified of somebody seeing me doing that. I kind of consider myself a skateborder first and gay second.’
While the frustration of the closet fueled some of his success, Anderson suffered inside.
‘All I thought was that I would never, ever say anything – ever – until I was done skating. I think I had a lot of really sad moments on tours sleeping on the floors of hotel rooms and listening to sad music and drinking a 12 pack.’
While he has been quietly telling friends in the skateboarding world and is out to his family, it’s now at the age of 40 that he is finally ready to go public.
‘People ask why are you doing this now and not earlier. Because I was pretty freaked out. I was really scared. And people would have perceived it a lot differently, I think, had I said this 15 years ago.’
But he did gain confidence within himself as he achieved success.
‘I started to get more guts as I achieved these awards – getting Skater of the Year, winning the world championship in Germany. All these things, I had all these achievements that nobody could ever take away from me.’
Anderson thinks he first realized he was gay as young as three or four years old. Seeing men’s facial hair ‘something triggered in my head.’
Then later while watching the cartoon Popeye, ‘I just thought Bluto was so perfect. That flannel shirt and that beard, I was all about Bluto. … It’s funny because that’s what I like now as an adult.’
This could be why he never had a secret romance with a fellow skateboarder.
‘I’m not attracted to skaterboarders at all,’ he says. ‘I never felt more comfortable because I was never looking at them in that way. That’s the last person of interest I would have is a skateboarder.’
By speaking out now, he hopes to be of help to younger,closeted gays.
‘I think of how I felt when I was younger – totally scared. … You become a happier person (after coming out) and to convey that message was really important to me.’