Leo Ollie and Alexis Craig Fonseca don’t back down easily. On a regular basis, the two best friends head to their neighborhood skate park, and shut down the trolls.
There’s the guy who always draws “Xs” over Alexis’ graffiti art, there’s the dude who takes unsolicited pictures of the duo and posts them on Instagram — usually with an unflattering tag line.
Yet, Leo and Alexis still show up. Nobody is going to intimidate them off the half pipe.
“We deserve to be there as much as they do, if not more,” Leo told Outsports.
“I’m stubborn as hell,” added Alexis.
Leo and Alexis are strong, but they also recognize there’s strength in numbers. That’s why they formed their own queer skate group, the aptly titled “Kunts 4 Kwads.”
Now they just need more members.
“Our safety has been threatened because of our presence at this place,” said Leo. “It’s disheartening as hell, and it would make us feel a lot safer if it was more than just us two.”
The Kunts started with a solid crew of three, with a fourth often joining. They all met each other early in the pandemic, when gyms were shuttered, and indoor social activity was significantly curtailed.
The skate park was a refuge. Rollerskating boomed in 2020, with the queer community in particular taking to the sport. VICE recently profiled multiple queer skating groups from around the world, ranging from Los Angeles to Berlin.
Unlike team sports, there are no established rules in roller skating. Skaters express themselves freely, unbound by tradition or expectations.
For Leo, who identifies as trans masculine, it’s been the perfect outlet.
“We’re all always going through so much at all points, and skating has been a therapeutic outlet for a lot of us, and a way to express ourselves with our bodies creatively, and also to give us strength, and make us feel confident and powerful,” they said. “That’s so important as queer and gender-funky individuals.”
Though roller skating attracts a large contingent of queer folx, skate parks themselves are far less diverse — even in Leo and Alexis’ liberal hometown, Boston, Mass.
One of the queer skaters quoted in the VICE article cites the “masculine and competitive environment” of skate parks as the primary reason for their desire to seek out a queer-specific space.
“I think the rollerskating community is so great, because it’s predominately queer,” said Alexis. “But going to the park is kind of feeling out of place, a lot of times being the only person who’s not a dude there comes with all sorts of issues.”
As a result, Alexis says queer roller skaters are discouraged from showing up to the park.
“A lot of people are intimidated of the park I go to, and that saddens me,” they said. “I feel like if there was more of a queer presence there, it would be much less intimidating for people to come out and skate.”
Leo and Alexis are especially passionate about ensuring that LGBTQ people feel comfortable roller skating, because it’s been a life-altering activity for each of them.
Leo has even found housing through their community of roller skaters.
“I started skating during deep pandemic times like 2020, and that was so dark for a lot of us, and it was an outlet and safe space where I could connect with people when I felt the most alone,” they said. “I truly don’t think I would be as confident in being a queer, trans-masculine person if I hadn’t found Alexis.”
For Alexis, roller skating showed there is a place for her — and everybody else who may feel a bit different or out of place in certain spaces.
“It’s changed my life in such beautiful, beautiful ways,” they said. “I have always wanted a space where I felt as comfortable as I do now, and to just see so many people who are like me, or inspire me, is really cool. I’ve never had that.”