I had another letter ready to go for this column when professional skateboarder Brian Anderson came out publicly. On September 27, right before Compete was scheduled to go to print, Brian announced in a video on Vice Sports that “My name is Brian Anderson, and we are here to talk about the fact that I am gay.”
Once the 40-year-old athlete from Queens, New York made the announcement, social media exploded with an outpouring of support and encouragement. Major media outlets such as Time Magazine and the New York Times picked up the story as did niche outlets such as Instinct, Out, Advocate and Outsports, among many others
In the video Anderson also said “I consider myself a skateboarder first, gay second. I’m a skater; that’s all I know.”
Anderson joins a growing number of openly gay athletes. His story is similar to that of Gus Kenworthy, the Olympic freeskier and X Games star who came out just last year, because Kenworthy’s coming out story also triggered an avalanche of media coverage. Earlier this year Kenworthy said he is hopeful such stories will be more commonplace and cause less media frenzy in the future.
Anderson’s story is making headlines after a record number of out Olympians participated in this year’s Olympic Games in Rio. In fact, at last count as many as 56 openly gay athletes participated in this year’s Summer Games. With the number of athletes being willing to be true to themselves by coming out, like Brian Anderson and the number of openly gay Olympians reaching a record number, perhaps Kenworthy’s wish will come true sooner rather than later.
P.S. While professional athletes’ coming out stories are important in moving sports diversity forward, it all starts with everyday athletes. That is why we encourage all of our readers to support the World OutGames Miami 2017 by donating to their fundraising campaign online. Simply visit their website at outgames.org and click on “support” for more information.