“Unity queer skateboarding is here to represent and support queer skaters. You are not alone!!!”
We first became aware of Unity, as with most things these days, through social media. Conscious that bigotry towards queer people is still prevalent within both the skateboarding industry and wider community, we thought it would be a positive thing to speak to Jeffrey Cheung (the man behind Unity) about the origins of the project and bring it to a wider, hopefully receptive, audience.
All images provided by Unity
When and why did you decide to start Unity as a skateboard company?
I started skating again a little bit at the end of last year and met a couple other skaters who were also queer. I got really excited since I’d never met any others before in real life and thought it would be cool to start a little queer skate crew. I bought maybe 20 blank boards and painted us all pro models for fun. Now I have painted almost a thousand boards and know tons of skaters that are queer. I never thought this would happen or that it would have gone this far and gotten this much attention.
How did you get into skateboarding yourself? Who were your favourites to watch growing up?
I used to skate all the time when I was a kid, I think I got into it just through friends. I was pretty socially awkward but really connected with skateboarding since I could do it on my own if I wanted to. It was a good physical outlet for me and relieved a lot of stress. I think when I first got into skating I really liked Rodney Mullen a lot. All the casper slides and primos looked so fun to me and I would always try to do them. I also really liked the Man Down video, all the Tilt Mode Army and enjoi people.
“we have all kinds of queer people skating with us of all ability levels, sexual and gender identities”
Can you tell us a bit about the skaters you’ve brought together through Unity? How did you start to get people involved?
When we first started I think there were only a handful of us, but then the word started to get out and people started to reach out to us. Some people found out about us through social media, friends of friends, and even fliers and stickers that we put up. Then there was the first write up about us pretty early on, and we started getting messages from queer skaters and allies of all ages from all over the world expressing their support which was super motivating. Our small group of skaters kept expanding and we have all kinds of queer people skating with us of all ability levels, sexual and gender identities, and we are always meeting new people all the time. Some of us have been skating our whole lives or are just starting or getting back in it, but I think all of us are supportive of each other and we try to create a comfortable environment for everyone to be in.