This June is pride month — a month dedicated to uplifting LGBTQ+ voices, celebrating their culture and supporting LGBTQ rights. We believe that the outdoor and ocean spaces are for everyone to enjoy and experience their wonder.
When it comes to surfing, as a sport it is notoriously exclusive, that's socially, economically and geographically. But this culture is changing, actively through the efforts of young queer surfers speaking out about these issues, and passively, as the world changes and surfing is taken with it. Over recent years, visible communities around the world of queer surfers have come together to create spaces that welcome pro-surfers to those seeking the joy of riding a wave for the first time in their lives.
Queer Surf Club is a global community that is centred around creating more inclusive surfing, being a space for LGBTQ+ surfers to be their fully authentic selves, in and out of the waves. Their goal is to create inclusive surfing to save the ocean, as the more people get out and enjoy it, the more people that will want to save it.
We asked Queer Surf Club’s Founder Frazzle a few questions to find out more:
How did the Queer Surf Club come about?
There are a magnitude of reasons why it came about. There was a really big piece for me around me wanting to get people of different identities and different people into the ocean. Because I knew that if we as humans are serious about wanting to save and preserve the ocean, we need all people of different identities to be able to enjoy it, experience it and to care about it. Quickly what I realised was that in the surf world, there is a very single narrative perpetuated by what a surfer is and who a surfer is - perpetuated by surf brands, organisations and storytelling. Generally it’s very cis-gendered, heteronormative, white, able bodied men, and until recently, there hasn’t been a diverse representation of who and what a surfer is.
So the Queer Surf Club began to give queer surfers and under represented surfers a voice and a platform to talk about what their experience of surfing is and it also is a community to bring other identities into the ocean, because if we can get different people into the ocean, then more people will care about it, love it and help save it. I also wanted to create a space for LGBTQ+ folks to build a sense of community in the outdoors, over nightclubs, apps etc, as if you’re not into those things it can be very isolating as a queer person. I’m someone who loves the outdoors and being in the ocean, so finding a sense of belonging in those spaces is very important for me, that’s also a big factor on how the Queer Surf Club came about.
What has been the response to Queer Surf Club and how has it impacted yourself and others lives?
The response has been incredibly heartwarming and lifting. For me personally, it's been very fulfilling in the sense that this is something that the surf community and the queer community and individuals needed globally. I wish you could see the messages that I get sent from people, what this means to them and finally finding a sense of belonging and finding LGBTQ+ folks like themselves. One very real experience on the Queer Surf Club was at one of our meetups recently at Croyde Beach, where one of the surfers who came down for the first time ever pulled me aside and said, “I want you to know finding this community has saved my life”. They had never felt that sense of community before, never had known any other LGBTQ+ folks around them where they live, and coming off the back of a pandemic where they spent many months alone and coming into a space where they found similar people with like minded interests saved their life. Which is a very powerful realisation and affirmation of why this club is needed.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey setting up the Queer Surf Club?The friends and the community I’ve made through it. I live in central London and love being by the ocean. I want to spend as much time as I can there, being in London, the easiest place I can get to for surfing is in Cornwall or Devon, but I never really had any friendships there. The Queer Surf Club has connected me with so many incredible individuals who are not only my friends now but also members of this community within this part of the country, and also connected eachother - which is super powerful for me to see everyone hanging out and having a good time. But also to know that I have friends across the world that I can surf with, feel safe with and who understand me - I don’t have to worry about being someone else.
What do you love most about surfing?Where do I start… it has to be that surfing is the only sport where this magical combination of things has to happen for you to be able to do it. What I mean by that is that there has to be a certain wave, in a certain place that is controlled by the swell, the tide, the moon, the wind and all these factors go into this happening. Before you actually manage to surf a wave, is this incredible piece of energy that is being controlled by all these different factors. On top of that, you then have to put yourself in the right place, in the right time, use your body in a certain way to then be able to get on that wave and ride it. It's almost like this ceremony of these incredible parts of nature coming to life and also these incredible parts of yourself and your body, being able to bring those two things together and when those two things line up - it’s this magical moment and nothing else quite beats it. It’s just you and the ocean, and I think surfing is a celebration of what the ocean is and what it can bring us as individuals. For me, it’s my happiest place ever, a whole different world, and nothing quite beats that feeling of coming out of the ocean and you’ve been surfing in it for the whole morning, you’re so beat up but so full up at the same time.
When is your next meet up?
Our next meet up is looking to be some time in September in Cornwall. Everyone is welcome to our meet ups, Queer Surf Club is a space for LGBTQ+ surfers and allies, if you don’t identify is being queer, you’re just as welcome. All we ask is that you’re an ally to the community, which you would be by being present. Our meetups are for people who want to surf with others in a fun and inclusive environment, and particularly if you’ve never surfed before - that doesn’t matter, it’s just about being in the ocean together.