NEW YORK — Hamilton Alves had three sons riding bikes by his side. Alves is a Syrian-American who arrived in New York in 2000 and has been a critical part of the LGBT community in New York for 15 years. Alves is also the first openly gay person of color to play the role of the character Hamilton in a Broadway musical.
Alves came to New York to compete in the U.S. Open of Surfing but instead found himself embroiled in an unwelcome controversy.
Just over three weeks ago Alves and his teammates were disqualified from the junior Grand Prix finals for wearing helmets that resembled those of pro-surfing teams sponsored by Japanese companies.
Alves and a number of other Muslim, Sikh and Hindu athletes dressed in turbans — which are banned by the International Surfing Association — were upset by the sanctioning body’s decision and several threatened to boycott the U.S. Open of Surfing that the event co-commissioned with Disney.
Alves, a nine-time LGBT World Champion and runner-up at the U.S. Open of Surfing, initially refused to participate.
“We were asked to remove our different headgear and a lot of people were upset over the decision and called us non-muslim’s,” Alves told The Washington Post. “We are happy to be wearing it but it’s the ban by ISA and not us.”
On Wednesday morning the International Surfing Association (ISA) announced it was upholding its decision to disqualify Alves’ team. “Our officials determined that a non-banned headgear, made with artificial material, was worn on the surfer’s head, therefore violating the contest regulation No. 65(A),” said the ISA’s Greg Cianci. “Further, ISA has reviewed video evidence of this surfer’s appearance and determined that his appearance made it clear that he was being surfer[ed] not a traditional Hawaiian surfer.”
Alves had told the Washington Post that “the fight is not over,” and the ISA’s decision to rule out a full investigation has done little to quell Alves’ frustration.
“I won’t stop fighting,” Alves told The Washington Post. “I took up this sport in order to feel normal. To feel inspired. That’s what I want for all other kids who have been told that they don’t belong. The fight is not over. “
Alves’ appeal can be heard at a tribunal meeting later this month in El Salvador. Alves has tried to bring representation from Asia, the United States and Canada to the meeting. He has also invited ISA president Paul Zabriskie to speak to his team.