Northeastern students Claire Lee, Rayven Tate, and Becca Brichacek were tired of seeing the same types of people in Boston’s skateboarding scene.
Lee had been skating for a little over a year, but often found herself being the only woman at skateparks. Tate had always been interested in skating, but felt she didn’t know where to start.
Lee and Tate connected over Lee’s Instagram posts about skating in late June, and Tate suggested starting a mostly online community where skaters of marginalized backgrounds could seek advice, build friendships, learn together, and meet up — LonelyBones Skate Co.
Founded last summer, the Boston-based collective (previously named LonelyGrl Skate Co.) aims to provide a safe space and create representation for skaters who don’t fit the “typical skater” archetype.
“[LonelyBones is for] women skaters, but also trans people and gender-nonconforming skaters, as well as BIPOC and disabled skaters,” Lee said. Or, as she explained, anyone from a community outside of the historical assumption of who a skater is: a white cishet man.
According to Tate, the skateboarding community can be cliquey and judgmental: “I think it’s important to show that you can start from anywhere as long as you just have the push to buy a board.”
Brichacek, who had a childhood interest in skating, was drawn to the mission of LonelyBones and joined as the collective’s primary photographer after coming across a post of Lee’s on social media.
LonelyBones’ community is mainly housed on Instagram, where they have over 3,000 followers, and on Discord, a messaging platform where skaters can chat casually, sell or trade gear and share tricks, and plan meetups. “People are really supportive,” Brichacek adds.
Most of their Instagram posts are photos of collective members in action, taken at meetups or submitted. They use the page to promote meetups, sell stickers, and support their mission and social justice causes.
Their monthly socially distanced meetups take place in Boston area parks, with mask wearing strictly enforced. Their next meetup is scheduled for the end of February at the Allston Pump Track, and details will be posted on their Instagram the week before.
Each meetup draws 50 to 70 people, with skaters — on boards and roller skates — coming from as far as Vermont and Rhode Island. Most of the attendees are 18 to 24 years old, and they foster a diverse community. The meetups are unstructured, for people of all skill levels, and designed to be a productive and encouraging learning environment.
“It’s really a safe space for anyone who wants to learn to talk to each other and say, ‘Oh hey, can you show me how you’re doing that?’ or ‘Can we set up a time where you could help me out?’” Brichacek said. “It’s really cool seeing people who have met at the meetups, come to more meetups, and become friends over time.”
Part of LonelyBones’ mission is to, both literally and metaphorically, take up space.
“When we go to skateparks where there are a lot of men who aren’t used to sharing space. We feel it’s our responsibility to lead and guide people into spaces like that. [We] encourage our power in numbers and try to take up space consciously,” Lee said. “As we start to be more comfortable taking up that space physically, it will translate to taking up space in a more metaphorical sense in skate culture and the skate industry.”
The collective’s meetups are designed for women, transgender individuals, and nonbinary folks. Lee said they won’t assume anyone’s identity, but they ask those the community isn’t designed for to respect their space.
Ultimately, Lee, Tate, and Brichacek’s goal is to reform skate culture from the ground up by creating a welcoming community where anyone can feel comfortable learning. They’re working on multiple new projects, including skate events for school-age children and a website.
“In our formative years, it was implied that [skating] was off-limits to us,” Lee said. “We feel those impacts as young adults. Now, as a wave of early 20-year-old people are starting to come into their own, we feed off each other’s courage.”
Interested skaters can follow LonelyBones on Instagram @lonelyboneskateco to find information about future meetups and join the community.
Deanna Schwartz is a writer in Boston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @deannaschwartzz.