Quinn Enriquez came out to the skate community, now he hopes there’s space for others to do the same.
Skateboarding. You either get it or you don’t, and because of this, skateboarding attracts the right kind of people: free thinkers, adrenaline junkies, people who are lost, people who feel found and everything in between. Sometimes, skateboarding can be looked at as a microcosm for the outside world with many things happening in the skate industry reflecting what’s happening in the rest of society, but I’m glad to say that recently it hasn’t been one of those times.
Florida has celebrated Pride Month this year in the worst way possible: by directly attacking the LGBTQ community. On the second day of month, Governor Ron Desantis vetoed $1.5 billion in funding that will disproportionately affect this group. One of the organizations with funding cuts provided mental health services for survivors of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando; the decision was made days before the anniversary. Another was providing housing to homeless LGBTQ youth. On top of this, he signed a law barring transgender people from participating in high school athletics.
Skateboarding has finally begun to celebrate queerdom in skating. Queer skateboard companies like There and Glue have given a platform for queerfolk to be recognized, and their presence has spread like wildfire. Professionals like Marbie, Chandler Burton and Cher Strauberry are paving the way for young people to come into themselves and feel comfortable expressing who they really are.
If you’ve ever skated at Jax Beach’s South Beach Skatepark you’re probably familiar with this guy, and if you haven’t, meet Quinn Enriquez. Enriquez is only 19, but he has been holding it down in the Jax skate scene for a while now. He started skating at 6 years old, learning to drop in on front yard plywood quarter pipe, he refound skating at the end of high school as a means to deal with mental health struggles.
Enriquez’s skating is easily described as fast, aggressive and loose. You’ll most likely find him seshing the pool, ripping coping or flying around the flow bowl. He’s most notable for his layback tricks like the layback air.
Despite being born female, Enriquez has long known that he is a man. Throughout his childhood he expressed his self understanding, but his family couldn’t, and still doesn’t, accept it. He recently came out as transgender through Instagram and the way the skate community has given him space to be his true self is a perfect example of the progressiveness in skateboarding. He described the skate community as “a family the way that families should be.”
Enriquez said, “After I came out, I was scared of how people would treat me, especially at the skatepark. But everyone has shown me respect and understanding. Even the old skate guys, they’re really trying to learn and show understanding. I love when people tell me like they’re like, oh, you inspired me to come out or oh, you inspired me to like, just be myself around people. ”
Enriquez is just one example of the many queer folk who find refuge within the skate community here in Jacksonville, and it’s safe to say that his strength in staying true to who he is will have lasting impacts on the kids around this area. Making himself visible to the rest of the community is exactly what this city needs.
“People [now] know of [LGBTQ skaters} existence. And that’s what matters. And that’s where change comes in, where people know of their existence. And some people are just uncomfortable. You know, like, this goes back to people coming from different backgrounds,” said Enriquez. “There’s tons of young people that come from conservative sides, and they’re just scared. They’ve never seen a person dressed this way. They’ve never seen a person like me. They just don’t know what to think.”
Enriquez already had made a name for himself in the scene when he decided to come out publicly. There’s tons of people like him who could also find a family in skating, but don’t because of the intimidation of skate culture. Skateboarding doesn’t have rules, big brother isn’t pulling the strings of accessibility, but “gatekeepers” of the culture often scare away people who want to try. Jock culture and cool guy syndrome weaved their way into the scene. Most times, skaters turn their nose up at newcomers rather than sharing simple knowledge like how to navigate the park safely. Skateboarding is not the easiest activity to just pick up; it’s hard and it hurts.
Enriquez laughed, “I was just totally unaware of the skater culture, whatever. These people will yell at you for getting in their way. They will call you a bitch because you sat on a ledge. When I first came back to skateboarding, I was running into trash cans. I was cutting people off. I was just totally like, in my own world.” He continued, “I tell people, like, just skate, just be you and come up there as often as you can. And if you don’t feel comfortable with going out to the parks yet, just get comfortable on your board, you know, take a long distance push, I skated from my house near the park to the Ponte Vedra Music Hall.”
Skateboarding is worthy of lifelong commitment, but skaters need to continue to adapt and change for the better. Making the skate community a more inclusive environment starts with the individual. Skaters need to hold each other accountable in allowing people to skate because you never know why someone needs it.
“There’s definitely tons of girls that have come to me and been like, I’m so nervous about going to the skate park, because there’s so many guys around, and they’re gonna judge me, or they’re gonna think I just want to be with them. It’s cool that people have, like, come to me and been like, how can you get through, appearing female and getting out there and hurting yourself and looking like a dork all the time? How do you deal with that? I just tell them, for two hours or sometimes for 30 minutes, when I’m on my skateboard, I don’t worry about anything else,” Enriquez said. “I don’t want to waste my time worrying about anything else. I’m in my own place. When I’m on my board. I’m in my own world, and I don’t have to f*cking give a sh*t about anything else. And that’s what keeps me going. That’s what keeps me wanting to push. That’s what keeps me on my board.”