Surf's Up for Coast Out
Surf’s Up for Coast Out

The LGBT community takes it to the beach for CoastOut – a LGBT surf festival complete with beach party and surf carnival!

When former elite swimmer Todd Buttery returned to his home town of Coffs Harbour for a holiday last year he was struck by inspiration.

“I often wondered what a Beach Festival for the LGBT community would be like,” says Todd. “The festival concept came to me as I was walking along one of the beautiful beaches here in Coffs Harbour. As I thought more about it I realised there isn’t an event in Australia that incorporates surfing, an ocean swim or Iron Person for our community.”

From such simple seeds, the idea for Coast Out was born – a three night, two day sun, surf and arts extravaganza aimed at the Queer community. With its beach meets the bush terrain Coffs Harbour makes for a gorgeous location for the inaugural event. Buttery agrees: “The Coffs Coast has a myriad of things to offer. The Mountains meet the sea here and this part of Australia, as easily accessible as it is, often gets missed by our community.” he quickly emphasises “but there are a lot of us here and we’re pleased to welcome the LGBT community to check us (it) out!”

According to Todd visitors will have plenty to keep them entertained. “On the Saturday we are hosting the Beach Carnival and Sunday the Surf Comp. The aim of the festival is to promote participation and inclusion. Any level of entrant is welcome.

“The other parts of the days are other events like a free bus tour around the Coffs Coast, a Fair Day with live entertainment all day and a few beach parties thrown in for good measure!”

Buttery hopes that Coast Out will “appeal to those who would like a short break away to put their toes in the sand, watch some great surfing, swimming and beach activities at the same time as relaxing and meeting new friends and catching up with old ones!”

Still a few religious wowsers were less than happy with the planned festivities – apparently a small minority (less than 10) from a local Christian group have raised a protest but support from the rest of the Coffs community was clamorous.

“It was almost expected,” says Todd. “That said, the community as a whole rallied around us, the support for the festival is overwhelming. The Coffs Coast while isolated in some respects, is growing and developing strongly at the moment. It goes to show though that homophobia and anti-gay activities still exist and we need to come together to show that we are a solid community and a fun one to boot.”