The upcoming Tokyo Olympics are set to feature a host of sports for the first time, including surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding. For street skating champion Annie Guglia, the Olympic platform will boost more than just visibility of the sport itself, but also the women and LGBTQ+ athletes that make up the skateboarding community.

“We’ve seen this huge growth in women in the sport, as well as queer people, trans people, gay people; people of all backgrounds, religions, ages, styles, social classes, abilities, and skill levels. It’s really nice to see,” said Guglia, speaking to Camille Laventure for Team Canada. “The skateboard community has become so much freer and more inclusive and I’ve grown more and more proud of it.”

While Guglia said she doesn’t consider herself an “activist,” she is nonetheless ready to use her visibility and presence in the sport to inspire people and bring more acceptance.

“I am openly lesbian and I 100% support all initiatives aiming for equality for all. I see my role in this community as being a positive role model. It’s a weird thing to say about oneself but overall, I try to make myself visible whenever possible and use the platforms offered to me to show that this is just normal.”

While skateboarding culture is largely been represented as homogeneously straight and male, Guglia points not only to the growing diversity within the sport but how women and LGBTQ skateboarders have always been there, even if they haven’t always gotten the same opportunities to make a living skateboarding professionally.

“It’s only now, at 26 with the inclusion of skateboarding in the Tokyo Olympics that my dream of realizing this goal has become possible again in my mind and that’s why I’m here today. I chose to take advantage of this new opportunity and I’ve been able to live off of skateboarding for two years now.

“Looking back on it now, I know that I could have persisted and created my own opportunities at 17 but unfortunately, I was too young and didn’t have any female role models in my sport to demonstrate that this was possible.

“I want to be that person for the next generation.

With the Tokyo Games postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic it’ll be another year until we’ll see queer skateboarders on the world’s largest sporting stage, but until then you can follow Annie Guglia on Instagram @nnieguglia on her quest for Olympic gold.

Read Camille Laventure’s profile of Annie Guglia for Team Canada here.