098: Sam McGuire/Liberation

Sam’s iconic image of Leo Baker. Photo: Sam McGuire

“I don’t have to hide anything any more. I want it to be easier for other people.”

An intriguing thing about the podcast has been the number of unexpected themes that have developed over the course of the last 90 plus episodes. One of which is: how massively conservative and blinkered the action sports world can be.

Think of the patriarchal struggles outlined routinely by guests such as Layne Beachley and Cara-Beth Burnside. Or the ongoing story around women’s big wave surfing.

Sam McGuire, Brighton, September 2019. Photo: Tom Baker

In skateboarding, a world which has traditionally had real issues with area of society that have progressed hugely in the last 40 years, it can be particularly acute. Take homosexuality. Skate history is full of murky examples of top pros engaging in casual or even violent homophobia, and top pros having their career cut short at the mere suggestion that they might be gay.

Which is what makes Sam McGuire’s story so courageous and essential. Because Sam, one of skating’s most high profile photographers, is gay. Even admitting that simple, totally ordinary fact is rare in skateboarding. Sam publicly came out a few years ago, and in doing so went a long way towards normalising the idea of a high profile skateboarder being open about their sexuality.

Photo: Tom Baker

Why is this important? Because the more people in our closed little world are exposed to the reality of the debate, and the reality of life for people like Sam, the quicker attitudes will change for good.

That’s exactly why I wanted to get Sam on the show, and why this is such a brave and important conversation. Listen to the episode here:

Connect With Sam

Show Notes

  • Sam’s trip to Brighton.
  • Mr Lego Man.
  • Brighton Pride.
  • London/ LA routine.
  • Airmiles.
  • The 6 months of darkness.
  • Speaking at Pushing Boarders 2019.
  • “A lot of people just haven’t met gay or queer people. A lot people just don’t know what queer means”.
  • Girls & Queer Skate Sesh Tour.
  • ‘The Storm’.
  • The worst time to be gay.
  • Pushing Boarders:Brutally Honest Skate Journalism’.
  • Asking dumb questions.
  • Megan Rapinoe.
  • Token gays.
  • “I love being gay, I love the gay world so let’s talk about it”.
  • Jenkem interview.
  • “I never figured out what I thought would happen”.
  • Conservatism within skating.
  • ‘Code-switching’.
  • Reaching out.
  • Sammy Winter’s party.
  • The term ‘faggot’.
  • “Do you think skateboarding is this way? Or is it from the marketing of skateboarding?”
  • “Your thing exists regardless of if they give you that prize money or not. Everything you have going for you, everything in your culture is there”.
  • Skateism’s role.
  • “What’s your story?”
  • Independent magazine culture.
  • Skateism’s shoot of Lacey Baker.
  • Shooting for Jeff and Gabe.
  • The creative agency within Skateism.
  • Capitalising on the “gay dollar”.
  • Post on Gender 101.
  • Brian Anderson’s coming out.
  • Tim Von Werne’s story.
  • ‘Pretty Sweet’.
  • “My career ended up better after coming out”.
  • Being in the queer majority.
  • Honesty and creativity.
  • “If you’re happier or freer, then you’re more at ease”.
  • Advice to coming out: “just get it out there”.
  • “Try to live your truth. You’re cool, people love you. You’ll learn who your friends are”.
  • Having healthy friends.
  • “I didn’t come out until I was 30; I wish I did it when I was 20. It would’ve been a much healthier 20s”.

Places Mentioned

  • Brighton, UK
  • Hollywood, US
  • New York, US
  • Athens, Greece
  • Oakland, CA, US

Companies/Brands/Organisations Mentioned