Report back from community event in Riverside, California organized by the Cactus Collective.
What is queer/femme skate day?
Queer skate day for us, is a reclamation of space. Queers and women are not afforded space to be free from harassment and threat of violence in our society. Whether it’s being catcalled, harassed or assaulted, we rarely get a break from the constant fear that comes from merely existing as ourselves.
With this in mind, for a long time, we had the vague idea to do a skate park related event because a few of us are skaters and we saw potential in radicalizing others at the park. The idea wasn’t fully developed until a member of this collective was sexually harassed at hunt skate park in Riverside. Her crime was having a woman’s body, wearing women’s clothing and being in public. Needless to say, this is unfuckingacceptable. After a few conversations we decided that the best way to fight back was to take the space for ourselves and make it known that we are not straight, white men and we’re going nowhere.
“We got outside, met other queers, taught people how to skate, and really engaged with our community on a human level. The general feeling among collective members afterwards was that not only was the event successful in its goals of opening up space, but it was a desperately needed outlet for us and everyone else who showed up.”
Our world is on fire, global fascism is on the rise and we struggle to pay our rent and put food on the table. On top of that, we are being further attacked and marginalized by the current administration through the Kavanaugh hearing, and the rollback of workplace protections for trans people. We are hurting very badly and withdrawing into ourselves can only mean isolation and depression. There needs to be something we can feel good about, something that can bring us together and make us feel like we’re not totally fucked and alone. Queer skate day is our answer. We got outside, met other queers, taught people how to skate, and really engaged with our community on a human level. The general feeling among collective members afterwards was that not only was the event successful in its goals of opening up space, but it was a desperately needed outlet for us and everyone else who showed up. We held this event because we believe in solidarity and mutual aid. Taking care of each other is the way forward and we will continue to provide the support that our community needs.
Organizing isn’t magic, it happens in the real world and it can be done by anyone for any purpose. However, we can’t sell you snake oil, it’s not an easy task. It takes dedication, hard work and a fuckton of trial and error.
Simply putting out a flyer and hoping people show up isn’t organizing. You need to talk to people face to face and build connections. If you’re LGBT+, go to club meetings at colleges (they rarely care if you’re a student or not). If there are radical orgs in your area, hit them up and see if they’d be interested in helping.
Don’t just have faith that people will turn out, ask them to make time to support your event, even if they don’t skate. If only a handful of people actually show up, don’t get discouraged. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t, then change your approach the next time around. Just by trying, you’re learning how to make a better world and that experience alone makes it worth the effort.
Gay Shame: Gay Shame’s anti gentrification work and ideas about reclaiming queer spaces helped us formulate our own ideas.
Unity Queer Skateboarding: Unity queer skateboarding’s model is what we tried to follow, their skate days are what inspired us to take action.