Skater Brian Anderson on Coming Out: "Like a Hundred Pounds Has Been Lifted off of My Body"
"My friends sent me messages or gave me phone calls and said, 'We're so proud of you.'"
This article was originally published on VICE Sports U.S.
On Tuesday, skateboarding star Brian Anderson told the world he was gay in a VICE Sports exclusive video. It was a moment the 40-year-old had anticipated for months.
"I'd watched [the rough cut] so many different times thinking, 'How will this resonate?'" he said two days after the video.
We followed up with Anderson to get the answer, and to learn about to the changes in his own life, what impact he thinks the news may have within the skate community, and the conversation he wishes he'd had before he came out.
VICE Sports: We had planned on speaking yesterday but you ended up being inundated with calls after the announcement. I can only hope they were good calls.
Brian Anderson: Everything has been really good. I haven't really dug too deep to see any crazy negative comments, but everything I've received has been totally positive and flattering and wonderful. I'm so thankful.
VS: Was that what you were expecting? Or if not, what were your expectations going in?
BA: I kind of didn't really care what happens, you know what I mean? Because I was already so fortunate to have all of my friends supporting me regardless. I can honestly say I really thought this is what would happen. It turned out exactly how I had hoped. And, like, 'Amen,' you know? It happened. It's wonderful, fantastic. I'm totally stoked.
VS: Which of those calls stood out?
BA: Besides media – which, I was totally flattered by, those things I did not expect; New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, all these fantastic things – but I was so happy that a lot of my friends texted me and said that they were so happy for me. That means the most, because I'm fortunate that I've been doing this for so long that media is flattering, but it doesn't seal the deal. It doesn't make me go 'Oh my gosh, I totally did it,' necessarily.
It's more important to me that my friends sent me messages or gave me phone calls and said, 'We're so proud of you.' That's how I feel. To get calls and messages from old, great friends who are saying they're crying – totally crying – and proud, that meant the world to me. That's been the most important thing to me.
VS: Have other closeted members of the skate community reached out to you since the video?
BA: [Not directly but] I think there has been a little bit of a trigger. There are one or two people that have said, 'Wow, you just changed my mind about how I feel.' Again, it's hard, because I don't think I'm changing the world but I'm helping, too. So I understand that this is going to have a trickle-down effect. There wasn't a substantial phone call or message from anyone but I think what I did got certain people's feet wet, so to speak.
VS: The video went live at 11:05. What were those final few minutes like leading up to it?
BA: Oh my God, I was trying to go to my friend's apartment and I was not with my boyfriend that morning. I was in Manhattan. At 11, I was using the ATM machine and grabbing a glass of wine and I went straight to my friends' Mark and Joey's house. I was like, 'Let's sit down on the couch, I want to see what everybody else is going to see.' Because I'd seen the rough edit and I really want to see what the world was going to see. That's pretty much what happened.
VS: What's been the biggest change in your life over the last couple of days?
BA: I feel like a hundred pounds has been lifted off of my body.
VS: What do you expect the biggest change will be moving forward?
BA: The biggest change going forward is, in the past, I was scared to have gay information around my apartment. I didn't want to have literature around me because I didn't want people to find out. I'm really looking forward to learning further about what I really want to. I've been doing a bit of researching regarding the leather community, because I'm really into leather. I love Eagle, that whole world. I recently learned that the leather community in the 90's, they were the first people to really help AIDS-infected people and HIV-positive people in the hospital when everyone was scared to touch them. Leather being what I was naturally into, it's really cool to learn on an extra note that those folks helped people when everyone else wouldn't. I think that's just so cool. They cross genres in the gay world. I'm just looking forward to learning more and more. It's really important to me.
VS: For so long, you anticipated this moment and even dreaded it. What do you wish you knew now that it happened?
BA: I don't wish for much but it's nice to know everyone responded this way. I wish I could have come out to my father, because he passed away but I had really cool dreams where he confirmed it and I spoke to some psychics. My father was not racist in any way, shape or form, so I knew that he'd be alright with it. I just never got to talk to him about it. But yeah, after he died, I had dreams and he told me it was going to be alright. I don't even want to say it sounds cheesy, because it's not cheesy but it sounds really vivid and colourful. But that's what happened. He was a great man, a really wonderful man and to have him come to me in a dream confirms my happiness. I'm very thankful for that.
VS: You've spoken to us a lot leading up to the video. Now that you're officially an out and proud gay man, do you have any other messages that you want to convey?
BA: I would like to say that I'm sure there are going to be a lot of people that are more on the effeminate side — I'm speaking about gay men. I'm sure it's challenging for lesbian women that are what you might call butch and challenged, too, because people look at them differently when they walk down the street. I just want to say that I'm aware of the fact that I'm very fortunate that I'm 6-foot-3 and I have a deep voice and I'm what you would consider masculine. For people that are effeminate — effeminate men — and they went to high school and they were called gay, queer and faggot all the time — like, this is why I'm doing this. So we can open more people's eyes, and kids who grew up in a more difficult position than me, hopefully that will give them comfort. Because it sucks. It really sucks to question your future. If I can contribute anything to the world and give people comfort, that's good news. I just want to help people realise that as you get older, high school's not everything. You will become happier.
I also want to mention that the world is still dangerous. We all need to be careful. You can't get on a train and make out with your partner or whatever. Unless you're coming from some wild party at 3AM, everything on the train is empty, it still scares people. The thing that scares people is when they see a homosexual connection, they become uncomfortable. So just tone it down (laughs). Just reel it in a little bit sometimes, even though you're proud and loud. Be aware of your surroundings. It will take a lot of time for the whole world to change but we're working on it, you know what I'm saying?