Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Surf's Up-And Out

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Surf's Up-And Out

Article excerpt

I've never played on a softball team. I once dated a really cute but surly butch pitcher, and as a baby dyke I passed many a Sunday afternoon reclining on the sidelines, cheering. (Or was that beer-drinking?) Still, my only experience with rounding bases is euphemistically, as in "With her I got to third base" or, better yet, "She brought me in home."

I know this lack of experience on the field calls into question my membership in the lesbian nation. Softball is to lesbians as ice skating is to gay men. "I play softball" is basically shorthand for "I'm one too." In my generation, the one in which we actually violently protested events that now seem almost benign--beauty contests!--one was expected to join a softball team seconds after one's first foray down a girl's panties.

But I balked. I hate team sports. Instead, I have pursued individual hobbies--karate and swimming. In these, if you drop something or fall down or fail to hit or pass a ball, you don't have to then face nine or 15 other people giving you stink eye.

Last year, at the crest of my midlife crisis, I felt compelled to do something I'd never done before: I took up surfing. Though I grew up in San Clemente, a California beach town famous for the quality of its waves, I spent my youth onshore, timing my tanning sessions and watching my boyfriends surf. In the mid '70s very few girls took to the waves. Some did, but they were rumored to be "that way." Meanwhile, not suspecting I might be "that way" too, I secretly aspired to surfing, which looked to me like the ultimate sport: individual, exhilarating, freeing, cool.

It is. It is all of that and more. A year into my new passion, my only regret is that I didn't start this 20 years ago. I love the freedom and the feeling of being on top of all that power, by myself. But even though I still shiver at the thought of joining a team, there are times when I do wish there were a few more of us bobbing in the swells. Maybe not a whole lot more, but a few.

My "people" out there in the surf are mainly straight 22-year-old males whose idea of a real solid put-down is "fag," as in "You fag, you pulled out!" (That is, failed to take off on a wave--lest you think dirty. …

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