Matt Bradshaw3.jpg
EDITORIAL

Coming OUT On A Ride

Words Matt Bradshaw
Date Apr 22, 2021
Reading time

We're trying to do more here at NSMB to make riders of all kinds to feel comfortable, understood, and safe. We believe mountain biking is a sport that could use more diversity and representation, and we want to use this platform to allow voices to be heard that aren't always given their due. Thank you to Matt Bradshaw for writing this and sharing with us and all of you. -The NSMB crew

Much like an actual closet, the metaphorical closet is a surprisingly comfortable place to stay in. People leave you be, and you fit within peoples current expectations of you. In an attempt to stretch this metaphor to its limit, the closet is not a place to spend your life. It’s impossible to fully live and be happy while you hide parts of yourself from the world. The closet is too cramped to grow in.

Roughly two weeks ago, Corey Walsh publicly came out as gay to the world, and I have an unbelievable amount of respect for him for doing so. Between Corey's announcement, a beautifully written piece by Kris Fox, and another popular MTB media site’s comment section I felt it was important to write about the strangely horrifying process of coming out.

I myself am a 24 year old gay man. I realized that I was gay when I was 19. In truth I'd known much earlier, but couldn't admit it to myself until I had built a sense of self after leaving my hometown after high school. As soon as I admitted that to myself I was already in a happier place. Then I had to dismantle the closet doors and come out.

Matt Bradshaw2.jpg

Matt Bradshaw1.jpg

I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by people that were accepting and supportive of me. The first person I came out to was my best friend and roommate Max. I was much too nervous to voice my gayness, so instead I threw a dozen paper airplanes with "I'm Gay" written on them until he read one. I knew Max would accept me, but even still coming out was a terrifying ordeal. Coming out is an unwavering announcement of identity, which when you are leaving the closet is a difficult and terrifying concept. Further, coming out doesn't just happen once, it happens throughout your life as you meet new people.

In an attempt to make this article not entirely about myself I will circle back to Corey Walsh and why his coming out should be applauded. Most people come out to their friends and family, maybe coworkers, strangers at the bar. Corey Walsh had to come out to the world and be one of the first people to do it in cycling. This is significant. Somewhere in the world there is a grom shredding their local trails that feels a bit more comfortable with who they are because someone they relate to is sending Double-McTwist-Broken-Ice-Cream-Machines at the top of the sport. Having representation of yourself in media is a very self-assuring thing for which the majority of mountain bikers (heterosexual, white men) have no context.


The first person I came out to was my best friend and roommate Max. I was much too nervous to voice my gayness, so instead I threw a dozen paper airplanes with "I'm Gay" written on them until he read one.

When Corey Walsh came out a large portion of internet comments were supportive. There was also a large amount of cold indifference. The cold indifference was more upsetting than the vocal bigots. There were a lot of "who cares", "why is this news", and "why is coming out a thing anymore.” Comments like these trivialize the emotional difficulty of coming out, and ignore the potential of public figures being role models.

It would be amazing for us to live in a world where coming out isn't a thing, but that’s far from reality. The truth is, if I walked up to you in person, you would probably assume I was straight. That’s because I don't outwardly project stereotypes and 90% of men are straight. Had I told you I was going on a date, you would probably ask some variation of "tell me about her.” I don't expect heteronormativity to go away, it is not a realistic short term goal, but I want to improve allyship.

I wanted to write this article to initiate a conversation on allyship. True, it is a topic too diverse to meaningfully cover here, but I hope you’re compelled, and I would encourage those willing to make an effort to support people you care about within the LGBT community. Allyship makes the people around you much more comfortable and requires only very small changes to your life. There are many great online resources for allyship that will explain the topic much better than I can myself.

Insert links here

NSMB: Can you share a bit about your experience as a gay man in the riding community (whether out or not out) - good, bad, or ugly. Have you got any anecdotes or thoughts in that regard that may be of interest to our readers?

Matt Bradshaw: I've been riding mountain bikes for about 8 years now, and the people I started riding with are the people I still ride with. I was a shop grom, I was surrounded with young liberal people, most of my best riding buddies I'd met through shop rides. I haven't felt any exclusion in mountain biking since coming out, bikes have taken me wonderful places alongside some beautiful people. I know some people aren't as lucky, and while I haven't had personal encounters with homophobia in mountainbiking, it does exist, easily noticed on the internet. Don't be a butt online, instead put your butt on a bike.

NSMB: You mention allyship and being a good ally. Are there any resources you could recommend, perhaps for (especially) young people dealing with some of these issues - or anything you think might be useful?

Matt: Funnily enough, I reached out to a couple people in the hunt for resources on allyship and most web resources are all kinda lackluster, the one link I have attached goes a bit past the standard method of just defining allyship, there are also 2 pretty good instagram accounts with a focus on LGBT allyship.

https://thetoolkit.wixsite.com/toolkit/beyond-allyship
https://www.instagram.com/raindovemodel/
https://www.instagram.com/lgbt/

Trending on NSMB

Comments

gerow
+26 Chad K MattyB Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Cr4w Sanesh Iyer GreyHead Dan Conant Speedster Angu58 hotlapz Cam McRae Mammal Suns_PSD cshort7 Peter Carson DancingWithMyself mrbrett Beau Miller meloroast Poz DadStillRides goose8 Derek Baker grambo lewis collins
gerow  - April 23, 2021, 1:44 a.m.

This article is equally brave and meaningful. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us and for stepping up as a role model for other shredders who exist outside those tiny boxes.

Reply

MattyB
+21 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Cr4w GreyHead Speedster Cam McRae Mammal cshort7 Grif Peter Carson Angu58 DancingWithMyself Corinne Summers Sanesh Iyer Beau Miller meloroast Poz DadStillRides goose8 Derek Baker lewis collins
MattyB  - April 23, 2021, 7:05 a.m.

Thanks, writing this was a huge battle of trying to say I wanted to say while still feeling comfortable sharing the story with the world.

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AndrewMajor
+9 Sanesh Iyer GreyHead Pete Roggeman Mammal cshort7 Peter Carson Angu58 mrbrett Derek Baker
Andrew Major  - April 23, 2021, 7:50 a.m.

Thanks for making the time to write this Matt. I’m certain most folks who read it will be gaining some important perspective! I did!

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Onawalk
+8 Sanesh Iyer hotlapz Cam McRae Mammal cshort7 Pete Roggeman goose8 lewis collins
Onawalk  - April 23, 2021, 9:17 a.m.

F*$K yeah,

You do you, celebrate who you are, and hope that everyone joins right in.  If they dont, just remember that it is their loss, and you’ve learned something valuable about them.

Representation is important, much more so than we (the royal we) realize.

Some peoples indifference might be a coping mechanism, might be that they dont feel it affects their opinion, I am guilty of that attitude sometimes myself.

Cheers,

Reply

goose8
0
goose8  - April 26, 2021, 10:34 a.m.

Thanks for sharing this- it's great to see more diverse perspectives getting into the spotlight.

Reply

eftup
+9 MattyB Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Cr4w GreyHead cshort7 bushtrucker Angu58 Beau Miller
Rosy Metcalfe  - April 23, 2021, 6:49 a.m.

Right on!

Reply

craw
+17 Andrew Major GreyHead Peter Adamkovics Pete Roggeman Cam McRae Mammal cshort7 bushtrucker Angu58 mrbrett Bagheera AJ Barlas Chad K Sanesh Iyer meloroast Poz grambo
Cr4w  - April 23, 2021, 7:47 a.m.

Wow I look forward to a time when none of this is necessary. When there is cultural space for all of us to be us and like who we like without labels or limits. But for now we need more stories like this! Thanks for sharing.

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Bagheera
+2 Andrew Major Beau Miller
Bagheera  - April 24, 2021, 1:42 a.m.

Yes, reading this and the - frankly, heartbreaking - piece about Corey Walsh makes me equal parts angry and sad that this is even still an issue. Why are we still talking about this?
But since it is very obviously still necessary to talk about it, thanks for sharing, Matt.

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danimaniac
+2 Andrew Major Beau Miller
danimaniac  - April 24, 2021, 4:59 a.m.

Ya mate!

I dig the whole paragraph about these responses about "why is this new..." 

And really it shouldn't be important. But the freakin' thing is: until it isn't important anymore, because you don't have to fear if you'll be accepted or even still be tolerated around certain people and so on: it is super important to talk about this to take away fear and build normality, trust in society and normality around gayness, queerness and so on.

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sanesh-iyer
+7 Pete Roggeman cshort7 Cr4w Angu58 mrbrett meloroast Derek Baker
Sanesh Iyer  - April 23, 2021, 8:18 a.m.

Thank you for sharing! 

I scrolled through those two Instagram pages this morning as well. I really enjoy how intersectional the lgbt page is. Looking forward to spending more time on them. One of the things I realized this morning is I don't have any LGBT+ issues regularly rotating on my Flipboard news feed, that's something I clearly need to change to be a better ally.

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OLDF150
+9 Cam McRae Cooper Quinn Pete Roggeman bushtrucker Angu58 mrbrett Beau Miller meloroast Derek Baker
Kerry Williams  - April 23, 2021, 9:24 a.m.

Thanks NSMB and Matt for showing there are more than heterosexual males and the odd females that love this sport.  The world will be a much better place when we openly accept all individuals.  That can only happen with more stories like this.

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mrbrett
+4 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Peter Carson Beau Miller
mrbrett  - April 23, 2021, 10:06 a.m.

Allyship - I aspire to that, and not being a gatekeeper. Thanks for the read, I respect your courage.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+8 Mammal cshort7 Pete Roggeman bushtrucker Angu58 Corinne Summers AJ Barlas Beau Miller
Cam McRae  - April 23, 2021, 10:07 a.m.

You are truly a hero Matt. 

Those of us who live in large cities with diverse populations are somewhat insulated from what it must be like to be a young person in (for example) a small tight-knit religious or ethnic community. Or where status is only available to those who exhibit stereotypical masculine traits. It’s easy to argue that mountain biking has traditionally been that sort of ‘place.’

Those in the deepest darkest closets will benefit greatly from the example you are setting.

Well done!

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Pnwpedal
+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
Pnwpedal  - April 23, 2021, 10:28 a.m.

Reading this made me feel an overall sense of happiness and pride for you Matt, and for our community. The MTB world is a great place with great people. It's unfortunate that the rest of the world outside MTB still has some progress to make. While we can't necessarily force someone to change their beliefs, we can provide the best example we can with outward support and love for each other. If even a slightly rational person sees a world full of love, perhaps they can let go of their hate.

Reply

Suns_PSD
+3 Pnwpedal Pete Roggeman Beau Miller
Sun Hester  - April 23, 2021, 10:32 a.m.

Matt, full support over here Bro.

I suspect our MTB community is more diverse than many of us realize and I consider that a very good thing.

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samnation
+2 Pete Roggeman Beau Miller
samnation  - April 23, 2021, 10:44 a.m.

Matt, thanks for taking the time to write this and to provide everyone with some very good resources! 

Much love!

Sam

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MattyB
+3 mrbrett Beau Miller samnation
MattyB  - April 23, 2021, 3 p.m.

Thanks Sam, it's been really great to see all the positive feedback. I hope we can cross trails sooner than later!

Reply

Roaming4Loam
+12 Corinne Summers Grif Velocipedestrian Pete Roggeman Cam McRae Andrew Major AJ Barlas Rosy Metcalfe Sanesh Iyer Beau Miller meloroast Derek Baker
Linden Priest  - April 23, 2021, 5:18 p.m.

Thanks for writing this and thanks for providing a platform NSMB. This article hits really close to home, I've come out twice now, once as a lesbian and more recently as a trans guy. I know it doesn't seem like it from the outside (when you are already represented) but having representation is HUGE! 

I wish I could have seen queer people at the top of our sport when I was growing up riding on the shore. Instead I threw myself into bikes to hide from who I was. If I could ride harder than the guys my age nobody questioned or harassed the weird girl/boy on how I looked. I've found mountain bikers to be generally super accepting, but I was scared of losing riding friends and not fitting in because I dont know of a single other trans guy riding mountain bikes, pro or not. Feeling like you have to hide a part of yourself to fit into a sport you love sucks, articles like this and pros coming out will help normalize it and make that kid scared of who they are able to stop being scared and focus on what really matters, bikes!

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+2 Andrew Major Linden Priest
Pete Roggeman  - April 23, 2021, 10:44 p.m.

Thanks so much for sharing that, Linden.

Reply

cooperquinn
+1 Pete Roggeman
Cooper Quinn  - April 23, 2021, 5:54 p.m.

Hell. Yes. 

Thank you for sharing your lived experience!

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alexdi
+6 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae Corinne Summers Nologo meloroast grambo
Alex D  - April 23, 2021, 7:26 p.m.

Fellow gay chiming in. I can't say sexual orientation comes up much in my riding groups. Usually it's in the context of limitations; wife won't let me do X, etc. Mostly they just care if you can keep up and shred. My other sport is climbing and it's similar. I've generally been impressed with the caliber of folks I've met. 

But then, I live in a big city. You can't throw a rock without hitting one of us. Anti-gay sentiment would immediately put you in an ostracized minority, so while I don't wear my sexuality on my sleeve, I wouldn't fear mentioning a relationship or an interest if it was relevant.

Reply

casummers
+6 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae AJ Barlas Linden Priest Cooper Quinn Sanesh Iyer
Corinne Summers  - April 23, 2021, 8:39 p.m.

Thank you for sharing! Coming out is so difficult and stressful and such a big relief! Also thank you to NSMB for publishing these stories and to this community for such a supportive comments section. Plenty of other sites make me wonder if I’m safe as a trans woman in our sport but y’all give me hope for our community.

Reply

davetolnai
0
Dave Tolnai  - April 26, 2021, 4:32 p.m.

I was struck by the paragraph about you coming out to your best friend Max.  I thank you for sharing such a personal moment, and thanks to other commenters for sharing theirs, as well.

Reply

bruce-mackay
0
Bruce Mackay  - April 30, 2021, 3:06 a.m.

The "Why is this news?" paragraph hit a solid target.  It was well said. I have LGBQ friends, co-workers and family.  What I do for living exposes me daily to a diverse cross-section of humanity. Hmmm... don't want to be wordy, so straight up.  That paragraph opened my mind a bit. This whole article was well written. Allyship, I like that concept.  Matt, Corey, Alex D, I'm glad you're part of this community.  I'm glad you all chose to speak up.  I guess that's really the key point.

Reply

fdxgnfckytfjy
-4 MattyB Andrew Major goose8 Corinne Summers
arthur turner  - May 2, 2021, 2:36 a.m.

look im not tryna be a knob so please read the whole comment before you get mad at me. 

its not 1903 and we dont live in saudi arabia so what does it matter if someone is gay. why make such a big deal about it. i do not care if you are gay. nor does anyone else. stop pretending you are crusaders for liberation. it is not a big deal. if you keep highlighting your sexuality then you're continuing to present gayness as "otherness" that needs to be accepted or dealt with. i do not care where mr walsh puts his member and neither should anyone else. it has nothing to do with bikes.

Reply

MattyB
+3 Andrew Major goose8 Corinne Summers
MattyB  - May 2, 2021, 7:03 p.m.

Gay marriage was not legalized in Canada unitl 2003, in the US until 2015, and not until December 2017 in Australia. Until 2020 you could be fired from your workplace because of your sexual orientation in the US. In 2016 a man killed 49 LGBTQ+ people in a gay club in New Orleans. further, LGB youth are 5 times as likely to to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. The 'crusade for liberation' is not a long dead fight, its an ongoing campaign for protection from discrimination, and equality. To claim that no one cares about a persons sexuality is a vastly flawed generalization.

I'm in a very fortunate position where I am able to share my story with the world without of being rejected by those close to me. I am proud of who I am and I celebrate my differences. Since 1903 when being gay was a crime we've progressed a lot. That progression was earned through riots, activism, and allyship; today I'm using this article as a means to continue driving the conversation.

I'm sorry you didn't take more from the article, I hope you took something from this response because thinking like yours is contributing to holding the world back.

Reply

casummers
+2 Andrew Major MattyB
Corinne Summers  - May 2, 2021, 8:45 p.m.

Well, Arthur, in your own words, you are being a knob. We’re so fortunate for NSMB giving Matt this platform so that by knowing his story maybe, hopefully some small part of the cycling world will keep learning and working toward being more inclusive. Spoiler alert: cycling isn’t there yet. It’s only thanks to those who have been willing to share their stories and fight for equal rights that we’ve gotten this far. 

If you take a look at the US you’ll notice that many states have passed anti-trans and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation this year with more in the works. If you look again you’ll notice that USA Cycling, US Cup MTB, USA Crits and the UCI are doing nothing to move their World Cup, championship, and annual events from those states. States where it’s not safe for LGBTQIA+ cyclists to be. For example, if we need medical care for any reason it’s now legal in Arkansas for medical professionals to refuse us based on religion—literally state approved discrimination. The cycling world’s response has largely been pathetic and continues to be lackluster. We need to get away from this idea of certain things—cycling—existing in a vacuum, void of all external factors. Never ever say someone’s story doesn’t matter. It’s bedtime, byeee!

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