Outside of the contest circuit, the skateboarding industry has survived by being self governing. There’s no fines for sending an offensive tweet or calling someone a racial slur in an interview, save the repercussions inflicted by your peers. You can have a pro board while shooting heroin or wearing a Skrewdriver shirt. This thing of ours is ours and it’s been run predominantly by straight white men. Of course, this common narrative mostly ignores the tremendous roles women have had since skateboarding’s inception, and completely refuses to acknowlege that anyone from the LGBTQ community has taken part in skateboarding’s history.
Good news, albeit quite tardy, but skateboarding is wholly becoming more diverse and simultaneously less tolerant of sexism, racism, bigotry, transphobia, and social dividers, but it hasn’t been seamless or without dull pains. In fact, the new found consciousness is very much in its infancy and―like a bubble-headed newborn, still shitting, pissing, and puking at will―it’s really awkward and in need of some guidance―there’s a lot of work to be done.
Sure, there are still the ridiculous and misogynistic, homoerotic, and perverse pointed based antics of Thrasher’s King of the Road, the inexplicable presence of Monster Energy Girls at Street League (women compete, why aren’t there “hot guys” hawking sugar water?), and your local shop is rife with decks that depict scantily clad or even naked women, along with the general penchant for the average skater to drop sexist, and homophobic language on the regular and on their social media accounts.
»Skateboarding has an awareness problem«
Skateboarding has an awareness problem, because few challenge these things frequently and this type of bro-haviour is rewarded.
The most obvious flashpoints recently have been Brian Anderson publicly coming out as gay and Lacey Baker’s recent ‘My World‘ edit. It pains me to change the conversation from their actual skateboarding and contributions to the art of it, but it’s impossible to ignore the way discussion about gay/lesbian/transgender/female skateboarders – essentially, anyone who isn’t a straight man – digresses into hate speech. Rather than screenshot comments or link to tweets, which only serves to amplify their message, I’d like to break down why this is so alarming and backward.