Tyler Wright picked a perfect time to debut her new jersey featuring the Progress Pride flag.
The two-time World Surf League Women’s World Champion (2016 and 2017), who identifies as bisexual, adopted the Pride flag on her shoulder when she began competing at this month’s Maui Pro tournament at Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline.
And her new and very public declaration of Pride coincided with Wright earning her first Championship Tour victory of the season after defeating Carissa Moore in the Final on Sunday.
Wright, who hails from Australia, publicly came out in an interview with that country’s version of 60 Minutes in May of 2020. Before the Maui Pro began, she posted a photo of her new jersey on her Instagram account along with a declaration of “my realization of my true and authentic self.”
This was a major step in a long and arduous journey for Wright, both in coming to terms with her sexuality and in working her way back to competitive shape. Following a battle with Influenza A in 2018, Wright developed post-viral syndrome and was confined to bed for almost 14 months. She described her ordeal to USA Today’s Hemal Jhaveri:
“I was away from the tour, from surfing, for almost two years. It was a really hard time, and I had a lot of things stripped away from me. I had to sit with who I was and then think about the person I was presenting to the world. I felt like there was a bit of a disconnection between that.”
Through her relationship with former partner Alex Lynn, Wright gradually began to open up and live more honestly with her family before coming out publicly last year.
Now she’s living her truth openly every time she takes to the surf and has adopted the mantra “Surfing is for Everyone” this season. For their part, the WSL has publicly declared its support for Wright and her efforts:
Before the Final, Wright felt the significance of the step she was about to take, declaring on her Instagram that “I’m forever grateful to have been able to paddle out with my humanity, as my authentic self and to celebrate with pure joy.”
It turned out there were plenty of reasons to celebrate after her monumental victory. As she told the WSL’s Jake Howard, “I definitely don’t take this for granted, to have this opportunity today is truly special.”
With her historic win, she’ll have plenty more opportunities to show off the Pride flag going forward.
An earlier version of this story said Wright came out in May 2019, but it was actually May 2020, and that date has been corrected. We regret the error.