Gay people skate. Trans people skate.
The skating world is notorious for being male-dominated, but there is some amazingly talented representation among the LGBTQ community in skating and that representation is only increasing. This is awesome to see.
So, to celebrate that diversity and inclusiveness in skating I made a list of who I believe the best openly LGBTQ skaters are and were.
Let’s dive into it.
Alexis Sablone is a classic skater and she really started getting recognition while skating with PJ Ladd in the 90s. She has a distinct and creative East coast style that makes her videos fun to watch. She does big gaps and tricks over stairs in her older videos but mixes in more creativity for her newer videos.
She in general is super cool and is also an architect and artist based in New York. She recently released a “pride shoe” with Converse that has a rainbow tab on the back of the shoe. I wrote up a more in-depth look at Alexis from interviews and other loose bits on the internet that you can see if you want to learn more about here.
She also has some interviews where she really dives into the struggles as a professional woman skater and how she went back to school initially instead of pursuing skating like her peers PJ Ladd and others. She is relatively outspoken at times, but can also be so relaxed as a person that it can be disarming. When asked about her orientation in interviews sometimes she just brushes the question of with “I’m gay. Ta da!” and leaves it at that.
Oh yeah. She also placed 4th in street skating during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Before competing in the Olympics she has won multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals at the X-games. That’s cool too.
Lacey Baker (now Leo Baker) was a skating standout as a child and teen. They/them started skating at 5 years old and won gold in women’s street skating at the X-games in Austin in 2014. They/them were named to Nike’s team in 2017 and have competed as recently as 2019. They/them have some serious skills to back their achievements up.
SO if you want some standout non-binary representation, then look no further. Leo knew he was a boy even at an early age, but only realized that they/them were trans at 19 years old. They/them were originally supposed to represent America on the women’s Olympic skating team but resigned after deciding to publicly transition.
Leo is still actively skating and competing so be sure to follow them/they as put out more content and videos.
Jason Ellis was not only a professional skateboarder from 1985 to 2006, but is also an MMA fighter, radio host, and DJ. He is openly bisexual as of 2016 and wants others to feel ok with being themselves.
He is most famous for his big airs as a skater. He often competed in the Mega Ramp portion of the X-games and held the record for biggest drop-in on a ramp (70 feet) until his record was broken by Danny Way.
His life is also super interesting outside of skateboarding where he has written books, started a band, and even fought a former heavy-weight boxer who had one arm taped to his body. Check this guy out if you want to learn how to live adventurously.
If you like best-of lists, check out my list of the 13 best female skaters out there. Of course, we know Sky Brown won Olympic gold at 13 years old, but you’ll be surprised that she isn’t the only young one.
Brian Anderson started his skateboarding career in 1998 with Toy Machine who was a big industry name at the time. (They are still a well-respected skate company).
He became very popular as a skater very quickly and was even named Thrasher’s Skater of the Year in 1999 which is the same year he joined Girl Skateboards. He is currently based in New York City and still has some active sponsors such as Nike SB and Bones.
A said thing to note is that he hid his sexuality for many years because he felt it would hurt his career to be openly gay in the “macho” world of skateboarding. There’s some interviews floating around where he talks about this.
He’s slowed down and isn’t doing the same level of big tricks that he used to film, but he still actively skates and releases videos even most recently releasing a quarantine skate video which is embedded above. He’s old for a skater now but still shreds.
Alana Smith has a ton of talent. So much so that they were named to the US Women’s Skateboarding team. Unfortunately, they placed last place in the first heat, but they still managed to get to the Olympics and had “they/them” inscribed on their board. People said that Alana was the first openly non-binary athlete to compete in the Olympics and was misgendered by announcers as “she”. In the murky waters of non-binary athletes competing in gendered sporting events, this is somewhat expected.
Otherwise, Alana became the youngest medalist in X-games history in 2013 when they were just 12 years old. They managed to land a 540 McTwist which sounds like a McDonald’s sandwich but is actually an incredibly difficult park-style trick.
Anyway, they are extremely outspoken about supporting non-binary skaters and athletes and seemed genuinely happy to be at the Olympics despite the result. So that’s good to see.
Elissa Steamer is an intensely competitive skater and she has one of the most impressive competition runs in women’s skateboarding. She won the gold medal in the women’s street competition of the X-games 4 out of 5 years from 2004-2008 while also filming a few iconic street parts.
Before being active in street style competitions, she skated exclusively street and started featuring in skate parts in 1996 first with Welcome to Hell with Toy Machine who was the big-name skate company in the 90s. She has been sponsored and skated for Baker and Zero since then.
She is a big name being she is unofficially recognized as the first woman skater to have a major video part with her part in Welcome to Hell in 1996.
She was the 2003 Female Skater of the Year by Check it Out Girls Magazine. She currently lives in California with her girlfriend.
Margielyn Arda Didal is a professional skateboarder from the Philippines who won the Asian X-games in 2018 and competed in the 2018 X-games as she made her entry into the professional skating scene. Most recently she competed in the 2020 Tokyo (actually 2021) Olympics where she placed 7th overall.
She has really risen to fame and was named Asia’s Skater of the Year and was named one of the most influential teens by Time Magazine. She is openly gay and her family supports her orientation which is not always the case in conservative countries like the Philippines.
She has a ton of media out there of her including interviews, skate videos, news stories, and more. So if you want to be a Margielyn Didal fan, then go for it. The internet is here to help you.
Some skaters are pretty misogynistic and don’t believe that women can or should skate. Well, I go over why girls and women should skate with examples of pro skaters and supporting organizations in this article.
Annie Guglia featured in Quit Your Day Job with Vanessa Torres and is a Canadian queer skateboarder. Quit Your Day Job is a must-watch by the way.
She first started competing in skateboarding in 2001 at eleven years old and briefly did competitions in 2005 and 2006, but quit competing after she realized that women didn’t get the same opportunities and recognition as male skaters. She focused on school and got her Master’s in Business. She did return to competitions in 2017 and won 3 consecutive Canadian Women’s Skating Championships.
She failed to directly qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but participated as an alternative for an injured athlete. She was the only Canadian women’s skater to compete. Get it together Canada! I expect mandatory girls skateboarding classes to be implemented!
Vanessa Torres is a street skating beast. She also was the first woman to win X-games gold back in 2003 when women’s skating was first premiered in the event. She dropped out of high school to pursue skateboarding and she has a few pretty classic skate parts such as This Is My Element and Quit Your Day Job.
Currently, she is sponsored by Meow Skateboards and has seemingly stopped competing in competitions in 2016 and slowed down a bit. Though she is pretty old for a skater now.
She is pretty low-key and there isn’t so much media attention or interviews out there of her. She chose to skate for more low-key companies and live a more relaxed lifestyle towards the end of her career. In an interview, she said she had stopped skating as of 2020 and I’m not sure if she has continued skating since then. (source)
If you get nervous at the idea of skating at a skatepark or in public, you’re not alone. Check out my guide to getting over a fear of skating in public with personal experience.
Are There Any Queer Skateboarding Companies?
So you might be wondering if there are any queer skateboarding companies that you can support by buying their merch. The good news is that there are.
There are a number of LGBTQ skateboard companies and spaces out there. Unity Skateboarding, Lockwood51, Skate Like a Girl, Solidarity Skateboarding are all skate brands that are LGBTQ-owned or are committed to sponsoring programs to help LGBTQ skaters find their place in the sport.
NYCSP is also an inclusive space project led by Leo Baker to make somewhere safe and encouraging for LGBTQ people to come together and skate while not feeling afraid to be themselves.
So that’s it.
LBGTQ skaters shred and there’s plenty of extremely talented representation out there. I know there are people I missed, but no list is perfect.
Who’s your favorite LBGTQ skater? Personally, I’m a sucker for Alexis Sablone and I even wrote a way too detailed article about her a few months ago.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more content from Board and Wheels.
- Jason Ellis Wiki Page
- Jason Ellis World Record Drop-in
- Brain Anderson Interview Discussing Sexuality in Skateboarding
- Alana Smith on Their Olympic Performance
- Margielyn Didal Asia’s Skater of the Year Story
- Piece on Annie Guglia Breaking Barriers for Women in Skateboarding
- Alexis Sablone Story on Her 4th Place Olympic Finish
- Elissa Steamer Nike SB Profile
- Times Article on Leo Baker Transitioning