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‘Loud and proud’: Revelstoke shredders creating spaces for misfits and beginners

Queer Shred Revelstoke has been hosting ski and snowboard events for the last two years
Hitting the halfpipe sporting the colourful Queer Shredders shirt. (Contributed by Queer Shred Revelstoke)

For the last two winters a local group of connected and passionate individuals have been meeting on the mountain to create a space for communities that have historically not had access, and are now expanding to make skateboarding more accessible for queer people.

Queer Shred Revelstoke is a multi-sport group aiming to create inclusive spaces for LGTQIA+, femme and polyamorous people through sport and the outdoors.

According to Emma Kelly, one of the founders of the group, the events are aimed at misfits and beginners who are looking for a space where they can get out and be themselves, and they’re hoping to change mindsets in action sport and create environments where queer people can pursue sport, whether they’re extreme athletes or complete beginners. The group can often be found at Kovach Park in Revelstoke.

The group doesn’t have set instructors, but they help each other out through teaching, and the events are also open to those who don’t skateboard and just want to hang out.

According to Vinny Fowler, the other founder of Queer Shred Revelstoke, women and queer people often face judgement when first getting into sports.

“When I was young I had bad experiences at the skate park,” said Fowler.

Growing up in Toronto, they recalled the skate-park as a judgemental place, an aggressive atmosphere that kept them from pursuing the sport.

According to a report from Grand View Research, 76.1 per cent of skateboarders identify as male. Fowler said that seeing women at the skate park made it easier for them to feel comfortable.

“I would skate better,” said Fowler.

Kelly and Fowler said they don’t want to take away opportunities from skaters at the park or take over spaces for their own, but rather make a space where everybody feels comfortable enough to skate.

“We can’t just take it over and say ‘you can’t skate,’ and we don’t want to do that either,” said Fowler. “We just want to represent.”

They added that Revelstoke is an inclusive space compared to other places they’ve lived, but there are still opportunities to improve communication and education.

“It’s battle to make it known to others, and it’s an ongoing battle,” said Kelly. “But it’s fulfilling. Being queer can mean so many different things to different people.”

The group shows their individual expression through their clothing, especially with their signature tie-dye shirts made by Fowler.

“Bring some colour to the town!” exclaimed Kelly.

Vinny Fowler and Emma Kelly alongside another shredder on the hill at a Queer Shred Revelstoke event. (Contributed by Queer Shred Revelstoke)
Vinny Fowler and Emma Kelly alongside another shredder on the hill at a Queer Shred Revelstoke event. (Contributed by Queer Shred Revelstoke)

OpenMountains is another non-profit organization in Revelstoke who creates a space for inclusive culture through ski touring, split-boarding, climbing and mountaineering.

According to Kelly and Fowler, they’ve been working with local organizations like OpenMountains in the planning a pride event to possibly be located at the skate park. They hope to bring together LGBTQIA+, femme, and ally business owners, volunteers, musicians, artists and vendors in a collaborative, inclusive event of celebration.

To get involved with Queer Shred Revelstoke, visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.

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