Brazil can boast about a few things: the fact that it hosts the world’s biggest Pride parade in Sao Paulo each spring, and that it is home to some of the best surf in the world. And this October, Brazil EcoJourneys and GaySurfers.net will team up to make waves with South America’s only LGBT surf camp, held from Oct 25 to Nov 1, in the stunning, gay-friendly state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil.
Santa Catarina is one of Brazil’s wealthiest and most visited states. It boasts 560 kilometres of Atlantic coastline, dotted with beaches, islands, bays, inlets and lagoons. Lush coastal forests sweep down from the dramatic Serra do Mar in the Serra Geral mountain range, creating a breathtaking backdrop to beach adventures. The state’s population is largely descended from Portuguese, Danish, German, Austrian, Scandinavian, Italian and Dutch immigrants, and, as a result, has a rich calendar of European festivals, including October’s Oktoberfest of Blumenau (the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world, after Munich).
In a country renowned for its surf, Santa Catarina is considered to have the best waves. In fact, Santa Catarina Island is the site of South America’s only association of Surfing Professionals’ World Championship Tour surfing competition. The island is also home to state capital Florianopolis, a city of 420,000, with a staggering 42 beaches. It’s the perfect place to surf.
Unfortunately, the sporting world is not always known for being accepting of out athletes. Thomas Castets, surfer and founder of GaySurfers.net, tackled the topic of homophobia in sports in his award-winning documentary, Out in the Line-Up. After running a survey on his site, asking members for suggestions as to how to improve inclusiveness in surfing, he found that “gay surfers really wanted us to create surf trips with other gay surfers.” GaySurfers.net began working with LGBT-owned and operated South Brazil specialists Brazil EcoJourneys to create such trips.
"We are all quite aware of the prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people in sports, but I hadn’t necessarily considered surfing as one of the last ‘bastions’ of homophobia,” says Marta Dalla Chiesa, managing director of Brazil EcoJourneys.“Watching Out in the Line-Up was a real eye-opener, which inspired our company to reach out and partner with GaySurfers.
"We organized the first-ever LGBT surf camp in Brazil last year and it was totally amazing,” she says. “Besides helping fund the documentary, it showed us that there are a lot of people out there who would like to be surfing but are being held back because of homophobia they’ve encountered. Surfing amongst friends allows them to live their dream, and it is so much more fun."
The first LGBT surf week was held in 2013 in the idyllic south coast surf town of Praia do Rosa. The event was such a huge success, with LGBT surfers flying in from the US, Canada and neighbouring Argentina, that it returns for its second year in 2014 with another wonderful week of surfing, caipirinha workshops, yoga, whale and dolphin watching. Praia do Rosa is a laid back town on a half moon bay, just 100 kilometres south of Florianopolis. This year’s trip also includes a two-day stay in charming town homes right on the beach in gay-friendly Florianopolis, with beach days and gay nightlife tours.
The surf camp, along with the two nights in Florianopolis, includes five nights in Praia do Rosa, a four-day surf camp, yoga sessions, airport transfers and two group dinners. For more on this year’s surf week, visit Brazil EcoJourneys or GaySurfers.net. Surfers and other sports fans can catch Out in the Line-Up at select film festivals around the world and on DVD.