Forget roller derby. Queer women are taking to the streets as the new generation of skateboarders. Jess Jones explores the queer skateboarding scene and what it has to offer women.
And if team activities aren’t your thing, there are plenty of queer-friendly sports for individuals as well.
Evie and Tora are two queer women who love skateboarding and the queer skating scene in Brisbane.
Evie is a trans woman in her thirties who’s been skateboarding since she was a teenager. She took a break when she started transition, and has gotten back into the sport in the last few years.
Skateboarding attracts all kinds of people, and Evie says it’s a great way to meet other queer women in particular.
As an individual sport, skateboarding can be appealing to people who might not want to conform, and it attracts a lot of queer folks.
“It’s a way of self-expression that frees you from gender norms,” Evie said.
“You’re respected for how well you skate and how keen you are to skate, not how you look or your gender role.”
Tora is a cis woman who’s been skateboarding seriously for four years, but first learned when she was a kid. She says she frequently skates with other queer and trans women.
Her experience has been a little different to Evie’s. She says the way men behave in skate parks often seems determined by how femme or butch queer women present – women who “look gay” are more likely to be accepted and less likely to be hassled.
Both Evie and Tora agree the way women are received by the mostly male skating community can be a big deal.
“You still get boys saying you skate well for a girl,” Evie said.
“You might be the only woman there in a skate park full of guys, and you have to approach them,” said Tora. “It can be confronting, but then you get used to it.”
She says skating as a woman is very different to what it’s like for guys.
“There’s more to overcome mentally. You have to push yourself off the edge of the skate bowl and at first it’s harder to push through the fear and make that leap.”
Now though, Tora loves the rush and the speed of skating. She’s also into similar extreme sports like snowboarding.
Evie agrees skateboarding is “heaps different” for her now since transition.
“I don’t handle adrenaline as well and I get scared a lot more,” she said. “I’m a lot more careful about how I treat my body.
“I am also way better at skating.”
Evie has indeed achieved a lot in her skating career, winning a competition in London in 2015, and placing eighth in a national contest in Melbourne earlier this year. She’s even picked up sponsorship from a local skate store.
Tora is a versatile skateboarder. She skates in various terrains, from parks to the street.
“I suck at street skating but I’m getting there,” she laughed.
Evie and Tora have both recently started teaching classes to help other women learn how to skate through the Australian Skateboarding Community Initiative.
“I believe that this will change the way women are perceived in the sport,” Tora said.
“We are capable of training Olympians in our favourite sport, something we love.
“I hope it brings exposure to the younger generation that the industry is changing and everyone is welcome.”