September 29th, 2016
Brian Anderson seems like a very average full name for a white male living in the United States. Most people actually don’t recognize it. But for a slice of society, a small passionate bunch, “Brian Anderson” is synonymous with “idol.” Skateboarders, for more than a decade, have been trying their best to emulate Brian’s style while progressing on their own paths. The way he rode his skateboard screamed power, composure and insanity all at once, and few can truly grasp it if they haven’t ridden a board for many years themselves.
Brian exploded into the mainstream skate media scene via his video part in Toy Machine’s “Welcome To Hell.” Considered one of the most influential skate videos ever, “Welcome To Hell” was the perfect storm to bring him into the limelight of the industry. Later, following his appearance in Toy Machine’s “Jump Off A Building,” he was promoted to professional skateboarder by Toy Machine in 1998. His unique approach and tenacity in skating immediately gave him popularity as a pro skater. It didn’t take long for him to reach the unspoken level of “legend,” and in 1999 Brian was awarded the rare Skater of the Year trophy by Thrasher Magazine. Before the beginning of the new millennium, BA (Is it a coincidence that he shares his initials with “badass?”) had already won the hearts of skaters all over the globe.
Shortly before winning SOTY (Skater of the Year) in 1999, BA had quit his team affiliation at Toy Machine and joined Girl Skateboards to skate for Rick Howard, Mike Carroll and the rest of the boys at Crailtap Distribution. He won the World Cup of Skateboarding in Dortmund, Germany that same year and affirmed his position as pro skater to the world in Europe. Throughout the 2000’s BA continued his legacy with video parts in Transworld’s “Modus Operandi” and projects with Nike and Fourstar Clothing. With his hand in shoe design and brand direction, his aging brought him more interest in creating something of his own. In 2013, Brian founded 3d Skateboards. Only recently out of business, 3d touted an impressive team, including Austyn Gillette, Tom Karangelov, and at one time Alex Olson.
Over the years, BA never lost respect from anyone in the skateboarding industry, always loving and always loved, always responsible and sensible and always fun to watch on a board. This all being said, one of the most unique things about him was a secret for almost all of his life. Brian Anderson was (and is) a gay man.
Many communities still struggle with gender and sexual orientation division. Even those with good intentions can sometimes still feel confused about those unlike themselves. Most popular team sports even create a homophobic attitude ingrained in their culture. Skateboarding isn’t the most LGBT-friendly group in the world, but most of western culture still treats it, at a certain level, as taboo.
On September 27th (2016), Vice Sports published a mini documentary about Brian’s life in skateboarding & hiding his homosexuality and about his coming out to the world at large. And skateboarders everywhere have reacted with support and love for their skateboard idol and fellow skater. Brian Anderson is a man of large stature, with tattoos covering his body and a calm yet tough temperament that seems to mask his sexual orientation well. But he is his own unique individual, and skaters all over the world respect that. It’s a difficult moment to “come out” to a community that has shown so much praise yet might not be open to your “new” lifestyle. There’s risk in putting yourself out there in your entirety. But BA did it, 17 years after winning Skater of the Year, 5 years after moving from California to NYC and just in time for the skateboarding world to embrace him even more.
The 26-minute-long video lays out Brian’s career, his life before professional skating and his more intimate interactions with close friends before his coming out was public information. Watch for yourself to gain a bit more insight on his life, and remember that being yourself is the best you can be. Skater or non-, gay or straight, black or white. Keep skating. Keep living lives of love.