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Tanner Pendelton Comes Out As First Openly Gay Male in Snowboarding

Snowboarding film director Tanner Pendelton came out as gay in an interview with Torment Magazine, making him part of a small but growing group of LGBTQ+ athletes in the snowsports world. Pendelton has been a fixture on the snowboarding scene for years, and his raw snowboarding and filmmaking style featured in flicks like Crazy Loco, Landline, and Together Forever and brand work for companies like Vans have put a stamp on the sport as we know it. Tanner came out as gay to his close friend Java Fernandez in the Torment interview, and admits it was tough to come to terms with his sexuality in a sport like snowboarding.

RELATED: Photographer Stephen Shelesky - Coming Out is A Lifelong Journey

Alongside Pendelton, snowboarders Jake KuzykKennedi DeckChad Unger and Jill Perkins also came out as gay. The Torment Mag interviews shed an incredible light on the personal struggle being gay in what many would consider an intolerant environment is, and Pendelton offers some insight into his struggle:

Yeah. This is terrible, but my whole life I sort of felt like being gay was a problem. Like it was a defect of mine. To compensate for that, I always felt like I needed to go the extra mile in everything. If I’m snowboarding, I need to be going bigger or faster. And if I’m creating something like a video or whatever, I just need to be so on point that nobody could ever say that I didn’t go above and beyond and make the best thing possible. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse, really. It even extends to funny scenarios… Like I’d be dead-tired driving the van full of people on a trip, and I’d be like, “I can’t stop driving because I can’t be the gay guy that can’t drive.” So I would try to prove my self-worth in little ways like that. And I would think to myself, “When I come out, these guys are going to remember, I drove the van the whole way!” So silly looking back on moments like that (laughs). In a way I’m kind of grateful though, because it pushed me to work super hard and receive some forms of validation—which I used to protect myself. For example, I’d be like, “Well, yeah, maybe I’m gay, but I’m a good snowboarder.” And then as I started making videos, I was like “Yeah, maybe I’m gay, but I’m a good filmmaker.” It’s sort of like a shield in a sense. I’m slowly learning that I don’t need those shields to be a good person.

When asked about what he loves about gay culture, Pendelton says:

It’s so sick. If you look at the history of music, fashion and art, a lot of it is rooted in gay artists and culture. That’s something that I think is really amazing. Prior to coming out, I would look into musicians and artists who were gay and be like, “Damn, this is sick. All of these people are gay, and they’re pioneers of the coolest shit that I really like.” They undeniably led the charge for so many amazing things. That really inspired me and gave me confidence. Not to mention the courage they had to be themselves back then. 
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It’s Now June, and The French Are Still Skiing HUGE Lines in Chamonix
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