At Oakland’s Queer Skateboarding Meet-Ups, Everybody Can Shred
March 2, 2018 - skateboarding
Growing adult in Oakland, Jeffrey Cheung felt like he lived in dual opposite worlds: in one, he was gay, and in a other, he was a skateboarder. It was transparent to him that a dual didn’t mix. Nobody else knew he was gay, though when he went to a skatepark, other skaters threw around a word ‘gay’ as an insult.
“I would get called like ‘faggot’ a lot, or like ‘that’s so gay’ and like ‘you’re gay’,” Cheung tells me. “It’s really homophobic. And not really welcoming. And we remember feeling really ashamed about myself and sexuality.”
So when Cheung was 18, he motionless to stop skating. It was only too tough to live in both worlds.
Gabriel Ramirez grew adult in Southern California, though he also lived in those dual worlds. In high propagandize he wanted to try skateboarding, though says he was “too fearful to knowledge what would happen” if anyone found out he was gay.
Ramirez remembers a day he met Cheung during UC Santa Cruz.
“Finding out that he was happy and skateboarded, my mind was blown!” Ramirez laughs.
Ramirez and Cheung started dating. They altered to Oakland, where they skated, played song and done ‘zines. At a finish of 2016, their worlds were rocked: initial by a presidential election. And afterwards they mislaid a crony in a Ghost Ship room fire. As their odd and artist communities grieved, they felt pushed to act.
Cheung pulled out a sharpie and done a flyer for a odd skateboarding meetup during a parking lot. It was low-tech and low-expectations, only move your house and uncover up.
“The initial one was only amazing, so many people came,” Cheung recalls. “And it was only a space where everybody could only feel welcome.”
It went so well, they motionless to do them monthly.
Now, a year later, this monthly meetup has a name: Unity Skateboards. Ramirez and Cheung continue to classify odd movement days in a Bay Area and adult to 60 people uncover adult any month.
Cheung stresses how singular a Unity atmosphere is compared to other places he has skated.
“Sometimes it’s only like absurd how certain and ancillary it is. I’ve never been in a place where everybody is only so happy and only supportive. People are like bringing food, like ‘here’s water’, and…it’s unbelievable.”
What started as a infrequent meetup in a parking lot is now a village of people — skaters and non-skaters, odd and true — who all wish to shred.
Thanks to all a fem/trans/nb/gender odd skaters that came out this weekend! Super fun! Will have some-more movement days entrance soon! Here is @natanyafriedheim alighting her initial stone to fakie! Keep shredding! #queerskateboarding
A post common by @ unityskateboarding on Jul 17, 2017 during 12:51pm PDT
And now, they indeed have a place to come together indoors.
With income warranted from their full-time jobs, Jeffrey and Gabriel are renting a tip building of a bookstore downtown Oakland. Jeffrey says it’s critical to have a permanent protected space for their community. The walls of a wooden loft are lonesome with skateboards and artwork. There’s a copy press in one corner, a cot in a other. It reminds me of a clubhouse.
The small emporium is packaged for a opening party. Louise Alban has been skating with Unity for roughly dual years, and she says it has helped her learn to adore all of her identities: “I’m a skateboarder and I’m a queer, and afterwards I’m also womanlike and… we can do all of those things and there’s other people like me.”
Alban started skating when she was 11.
“My mom like hated it,” she says. “She suspicion girls shouldn’t be skating and we was like that immature daring small kid, and we was like ‘I’m going to movement anyway.’ So we did.”
Alban found out about Unity Skateboards on Instagram. She sent Cheung a video of herself skating. He mailed her behind a skateboard, an invitation to come movement with them. Louise altered from her home in Yucaipa a few months after to attend her initial odd movement day, and she’s been in Oakland ever since.
Unity’s founder, Jeffrey Cheung, says now, he has a many odd friends he’s ever had.
He also says that if there was something like this when he was younger, it would have altered his life entirely. He wouldn’t have felt so alone and ashamed of being gay.
But now, with Unity Skateboards, Cheung says he hopes he’s creation it a small easier for a subsequent era of immature people to find acceptance — during school, during home, and during a skatepark.
On Mar 4, 2017 Jeffrey Cheung and Unity Press will be hosting a zine creation workshop during a Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.