Over the past week, Torment Mag has elevated the voices within snowboarding’s budding - but until now largely silent - queer community. Through four unique interviews and one passionate memoir, five influential figures within snowboarding have opened up about their experiences, both positive and negative, as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Jake Kuzyk opens up about coming out at 30, grappling with the fear of uncertainty over how that may affect his career and friendships, the reaction of his catholic-raised family, the ultimately stronger bond he formed with his father after coming out, and how his close friend Tanner Pendleton opening up about his sexuality led Jake to publicly – and proudly – come out as gay himself.
Tanner, the brilliant filmer and photographer behind videos like Landline, speaks about being possibly the first openly gay male in the snowboard industry, how Brian Anderson coming out positively affected his own mentality towards himself and his feelings – particularly after seeing how his friends reacted to BA’s announcement – and dealing with the inherent homophobia and ‘micro-aggressions’ found within the worlds of snowboarding and skateboarding.
Jill Perkins describes how sexuality can often fall short of definition, including her own. She speaks of her journey within an industry which hasn’t been historically welcoming to that kind of fluidity, the anxiety that induced and, ultimately, how welcome she has felt as part of both the queer community and the snowboarding community at large, after learning to accept herself and her feelings.
Chad Unger tells his unique story of being a deaf and gay snowboarder. He describes how his hearing disability made him feel like it was ‘unsafe’ for him to be gay, as he felt his deafness already made him enough of an outsider within a largely homophobic snowboarding world, and the way in which skateboarding’s recent progression and support of the LGBTQ+ community has inspired him to curate a similar space within snowboarding.
Kennedi Deck's story comes in the form of a memoir, rather than a conventional interview. She describes those struggles between the ages of 13 and 16, constantly trying to convince herself she wanted to wear dresses and kiss boys, before finally coming to terms with herself and her sexuality with the help of a queer snowboard coach. She opens up about her experiences as the only female rider in the SRD crew, and then being the only openly queer rider in an all-girls video (The Uninvited), and her struggle – and ultimately success – in finding a sense of acceptance in the snowboard world.
We implore that you read (and watch) all five interviews and written pieces. The messages within are powerful, insightful and educational, and these stories need to be heard by as many people as possible, particularly in the world of snowboarding.
To Jon and Ian at Torment: We can’t thank or praise you enough for the initiative and execution shown in elevating the voices of these five snowboarders. This is a hugely important moment in snowboarding, and one which won’t be forgotten. These interviews will undoubtedly have a profoundly moving effect on those who share similar stories – the collective Monomyth, as you described it – and the wider snowboarding community as a whole.
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