Three more snowboarders have spoken about their sexuality in series of exclusive interviews with Torment. Jill Perkins, Chad Unger, and Kennedi Deck joined snowboarding filmmaker and photographer Tanner Pendleton, who revealed he is gay last week in an interview with the online magazine.
“The narrative in action sports tends to be – ‘it’s okay to be queer as long as you rip and present as masculine,’” Pendleton tells Out. “The more stories we hear, the closer that moves to ‘it’s okay to be queer, because it’s okay to be queer.’ I wanted to share my story to move our community in that direction.”
Perkins, Unger, and Deck told Torment of experiences as queer people in an intense sport demanding a high level of skill and athletic prowess.
Unger, who is deaf, described feeling like an outsider who had to hide his secret from others as well.
“I felt like if I told snowboarders that I’m gay they would reject me,” Unger revealed. “Because of my deafness, I barely fit into the snowboard world as is. Telling them I’m gay wouldn’t help so I kept it to myself.”
Perkins told Torment that she “got really lucky” by starting in the snowboarding industry when she did.
“I think I just found myself meeting the right people at the right time,” she explained. “People are pushing throughout the industry for equality, and it’s a beautiful thing. We are so lucky to have this little community of, for the most part, open minded people.”
For Deck, her story is one of addition by subtraction, with the addition being snowboarding and the subtraction being her “redneck high school.”
“In comparison, coming out to a community of snowboarders doesn’t feel as scary as being one of the very few queer people in a redneck high school,” she wryly observed. “I’m so grateful to have snowboarding, because it helped me get out of my close-minded small town.”
She is quick to caution, though, there is a long way to go to ensuring full acceptance and inclusion for LGBTQ+ persons in this hyper-competitive industry.
“I do think the industry has a long way to go in their acceptance of the LGBTQIA2S+ community,” Deck said.