Leo Baker DAZED100 2020
Courtesy of Leo Baker
“I would continue the work of The NYC Skate Project, a space for trans, non-binary and gnc folx and cis women who skate

Leo Baker

Age - 28
 Los Angeles, United States
@leo_baker
Leo Baker
“I would continue the work of The NYC Skate Project, a space for trans, non-binary and gnc folx and cis women who skate

After being signed to Nike SB in 2017, professional skateboarder and activist Leo Baker gained a platform not just for them, but for those historically excluded from skateboarding. “I know first hand what it feels like to be othered in my own subculture,” they say.

To counter this, they formed the NYC Skate Project, a queer-centric community that aims to platform LGBTQ+ and women skaters. “I want queer and trans folks, not only to see themselves represented in this industry, but to feel safe and welcomed.” 

The NYCSP puts on various events, including skating, art shows, and poetry workshops, for people of any identity who are interested in skating. “It will always be an intentional space for gender non-conforming, trans folx, non-binary folx, and cis women who skate,” says Baker.

They work hard outside of the NYCSP, too – recently, they were the face of Nike’s 30th Anniversary ‘Just Do It’ Campaign and have featured in skate videos for Thrasher and Nike SB., as well as on the cover of Dazed China. But their main focus in all of their work is transforming skateboarding and building a genuine community: “I am putting all of my energy into the growth of queer skateboarding at every level,” says Leo.

When it comes to your work, what are you most proud of? 

Leo Baker: I am proud that I found the courage to be myself in the face of an industry that would only accept the version of me that they wanted. I am proud of myself for coming out as trans and living my truth. I am proud of myself for speaking out and standing for the issues that matter to me, and I am proud of myself for creating space for queers and women who want to skate. 

What or who gives you hope and why?

Leo Baker: The work of the queer and trans warriors who came before me is massively inspiring. When I uncover histories of people long ago who fought for the same things I am fighting for, I feel humbled to be in a position where I can continue this work. I’ve found that working with other people in the community, like with my friends at Skate Like A Girl and Quell Skateboarding, is extremely humbling. There are moments when I am surrounded by my community and I really feel the benefits of what we do. 

How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected you, your work, and/or your community?

Leo Baker: With NYC being the leading number of cases of Coronavirus, social distancing is a must. But what does it mean for our queer youth? In being young and queer, many of us live most of our lives in survival mode well into adulthood. We are able to mold ourselves to be safe, avoid bullying, judgment, and harassment. It’s not until we find a community of like-minded people that we get to live out our truth, slowly chipping away the parts of ourselves we develop for protection.

“I am proud that I found the courage to be myself in the face of an industry that would only accept the version of me that they wanted” - Leo Baker

I’m still in that process. Without the ability to come together, we are left without community. Maybe we are stuck in an abusive situation, unable to escape due to quarantine. I feel for all the young queers out there stuck at home, playing the part to avoid criticism from parents and/or caretakers.

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Leo Baker: I would continue the work of The NYC Skate Project and elevate queer icons in skateboarding through my board company. NYCSP was born out of a need for community. My dream was to create a space where women and queer skaters could come together to be fully self-expressed. The beauty of this event is that it can be anyone’s dream to come to life. Anyone can be a leader, it’s not rigid.

Skateboard clinics for all ages and abilities is a staple at NYCSP, and it will always be an intentional space for gender non-conforming, trans folx, non-binary folx, and cis women who skate. But beyond that, we have done art shows, poetry, and zine workshops, and we’ve had live music and free skate. It’s such a beautiful way to celebrate the community when I can take on any ideas, and let the event grow into something beyond my own imagination.

Marianne Eloise

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