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Pride Perspectives: Mandi Parkes

For years now, June has been marked by bright, rainbow-clad revelers in big cities and small towns, celebrating Pride. It’s easy to forget in the sea of bright colors and smiling faces, that one of the main turning points in the celebration’s history is the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969, started by two queer and trans POC activists named Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Riah Milton, and so many others, we talked with two staff members about what Pride means for them, and how this year feels different.

“I am reminded more deeply this year of the history of Pride, and that black bodies created momentum for queer liberation. Things are not perfect for queer people today, but the liberation of that movement helped slowly create more acceptance. And we cannot forget that Black trans lives matter,” said Mandi Parkes, Regional Manager, based out of Vancouver, BC. Mandi is also heavily involved in Chill’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice efforts.

“I don’t currently see any significant LGBTQ+ representation in the snowboard, surf, or SUP communities. Often queer and trans people have intersecting, oppressed identities that makes it that much harder for them to access snowboarding and other expensive boardsports. There is so much work to be done to create these communities and supportive environments for queer folks to feel safe and invited into.”

Still, there are some bright spots, and folks working to make our sports more inclusive. “I have seen an amazing transformation in the skate communities across the globe in the last few years. There are a number of radical, social justice-lead, community-focused groups that are popping up all over. The power in their collective radicalness is so incredible to witness, and it’s awesome to be able to see more queer and trans people feel comfortable in shared outdoor spaces with the power of their community around them.”

“We could replicate this across boardsports, but I think it will take more support from big brands when it comes to snowboarding or surfing because of the inaccessibility of them. Just like we don’t see enough BIPOC riders being sponsored, queers don’t see ourselves reflected in their media, and that’s really hurting the industry’s perceived inclusiveness. Ideally, an intersectional approach to race, gender, body size, and more, would immensely help people feel validated, safe and accepted as a first step. We need to continue to show up, speak up, and listen to the diverse communities we work with and their needs and asks. Our role in creating an accessible, inclusive, and safe space is more important than ever for youth who are growing into themselves and their identities. Sharing pronouns, having name tags, using chosen names, using gender neutral language, having queer and trans mentors for our youth, are all ways we can continue to show up and be supportive.”

Pride was started by trans and gender non-conforming folks of color. Chill stands in allyship and solidarity with the black and LGBTQ+ youth, families, and communities we serve.

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