Every Wednesday night, a group of queer and transgender skaters gather outside of a local skatepark in Glendale. Near handball courts and on flat ground, beginning skaters are allowed a safe space where they can practice balancing on their skateboards, learn to land tricks or meet other queer skaters. This group goes by the name Boos Cruise and describes themselves as “a collective representing queer, BIPOC, non-binary, trans, skaters, and aspiring skaters.”
Julian Chavez serves as the community leader of Boos Cruise, and shares that his overarching goal for establishing Boos Cruise is to make a skatepark safe for traditionally marginalized groups. He strives to help make Boos Cruise “a safer space than what already existed.” At the beginning of each Boos Cruise meet, every attendee receives a name tag where they can list their name and pronouns. This way, Julian states, “there is no need to misgender someone or use an incorrect name.” At each skate meet, Chavez also shares a list of guidelines that are created collaboratively based on the needs of community members.
Shortly after skating around, practicing and socializing–part of the group moves into the skatepark. There, MiMi Fretes practices a surf-style trick known as a bertslide–crouching low with her front hand on the ground, moving the skateboard as if she’s riding a wave. She explains that this particular trick became popularized by Santa Monica and Venice Beach skate legends, the Z-Boys. She recalls a moment when she was first inspired by the bertslide, “When I first saw that I thought, ‘wait this is cool, I’ve never seen this before!’”
Fretes shares that skating in a group helps motivate her, noting that those she skates with will often hype her up or clap for her. She refers to herself a “long-time beginner” because she’s still getting some of the basics down, and when asked about her skating goals, Fretes confirms she’s one for the classics: “I want to get those bertslides higher up rather than being low and closer to the ground, to on the side of a half-pipe or something, like on the wall.”
Beside MiMi is Kiana Barnes, who started skateboarding when she was 15 or 16 years old, but recently returned to the hobby after a 10-year hiatus. As a poet and an artist, she finds inspiration especially in the community she’s garnered through skateboarding. “It’s such a great, widely safe space for us and also just very open, very welcoming,” Barnes shares of Boos Cruise.
Before joining Boos Cruise in 2020, Will Rydell was living in Orange County but didn’t have access to a queer skate community. “I’m queer and trans, so I kind of had difficulty finding a skate community there.” At Boos Cruise, he doesn’t feel a sense of competitiveness that he experiences when skating with groups of cis-men. Will expresses, “Julian’s done a really great job at creating an environment that’s fun and not competitive. Everyone’s supporting each other.”
“It’s such a fun social activity, and making friends boosts confidence in general. Mobbing a skatepark with a bunch of gay people makes it safer.” He adds before laughing. He expresses that the queer skate community is valuable in his life. “I don’t feel scared to have my identity on my sleeve, for a lack of a better term–there’s a protection layer of having a bunch of friends around you.”
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