This is a good read, because 14 years later, nothing has changed. When I still skateboarded, Mike V was one of my favorite pros. I don't really know why, he was an old man with a bit of different style that I liked watching. Plus, I was crazy about Element Siamese decks cuz I didn't like having an asymmetrical deck. I still have one of them mounted up that I take out a couple times a summer now. After skating those, I bought some Line Invaders because symmetry surely had to be the greatest thing ever dreamed up. The rest is history eh? Anyway, much more respect to Mike V after this. He's a rad dude.
And to those who still bash rolling, are you old enough to remember when every skateboarder and snowboarder called you a faggot for skiing? Shit, I'm turning 21 just next month and I remember those days. They weren't very long ago at all, but somewhere along the road skiers started getting respected and we're now apparently cool. Therefore, it is acceptable for us to call those vastly inferior skibladers and rollerbladers fags, right? After all, we're now on the top tier of xtreme sprts athletes with the rest of the cool kids.
Rollerblade Faggots – by Mike Vallely (Circa May 1996)
Okay, now that I have your attention… It’s high time for skateboarders and the skateboard industry to really come to terms in a sense with inline skating. I’ve seen and heard enough ignorant stupidity over the last five or six months, fists and pens of certain skateboarders and industry types that I feel it’s time that someone with a functioning brain and a sense of reality speak up and clue some people in… Oh damn, that would have to be me again.
(I can relate everything that happens in the present time, it seems, with something that happened to me in my hometown growing up skating. I have done it again, so please bear with me.)
When I started skating in ‘84, there were certain adversities that came along with the territory of just being a skateboarder. I always felt these “adversities” only added to the experience and helped make it more real and meaningful, and truly gave purpose and sense to what I was doing. I was thankful to be a skateboarder in the face of my hometown and, beyond that, in the face of the world.
In ‘86 the skateboard “fad” was in full force in my hometown and we skateboarders were feeling a need to be understood and appreciated. Our numbers had grown to a point where we couldn’t be ignored, and probably the worst part is we weren’t being ignored, at least not by the local authorities and especially not by the local “hicks.” The cops hated us because the people with money (whom they serve and protect) hated us and didn’t want us near their property. And the hicks hates us because, well, they’re hicks and cant deal with or comprehend anyone or anything that’s not like them. So, after several complaints to the authorities from local skaters who had been beat or harassed by the local “KKK,” the cops decided it was high time to do nothing because after all, we skateboarders were all “faggots” and deserved to get beat on. Some of the local pigs even joined in.
The local newspaper got involved and ran a series of articles about skateboarding in general (the fad), skateboarders’ issues and this problem with the hicks and the authorities. The newspaper came out to our school one day and interviewed many different skaters and “skate haters.” They collected stories of beatings and harassment from the skaters and plenty of justification for said beatings from the hicks. Justification being: “They’re faggots, look at ‘em. They wear stupid clothes and have gay hair cuts and they think they’re soooo cool. I just cant stand them. They’re faggot homos. I hate ‘em.” Sounds like some of the things I’ve heard my peers say about inline skaters.
Well, the shoe is on the other foot now. Skateboarders have become “cool” in a sense, at least somewhat “socially acceptable.” And the skateboarder “look” sells and people are buying. So now up on our high horse we start talking shit about everyone who is not as cool as us. Inliners are an easy target, and it makes skateboarders feel good to have someone to bash. Personally, I want nothing to do with it.
At the Extreme Games this past summer, skateboarders and inliners were forced to share the same street course and vert ramp. It was from this experience that I learned a lot about this situation. I happened to make some friends among the ranks of inliners, and found myself disappointed with the actions of my skateboard peers. The truth of the matter is that inliners are heavily influenced and inspired by skateboarders and our sport’s pros. I found that most of the inliners knew who I was and had been following my career as a pro skater for a long time. They had respect for me and my sport, so how could I disrespect them? I couldn’t. There was a relationship there beyond the fact that we both ride on urethane.
I must admit, I do have some prejudices against inlining, there are just some things about it that don’t jive with me. But so what? Their sport is young and has a lot of growing up to do. Who am I, who is anyone to open up their big trap and say that inliners are “fags” or that their sport is “gay?” Why make an issue out of nothing? Truly secure people don’t act that way, so… Ask yourselves these questions and think about it. Maybe you skateboard, maybe you inline skate, maybe you do both. Maybe you BMX or play baseball, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you enjoy what you do, and keep it positive. Amen! – Mike Vallely
Note: This editorial originally ran in the ‘Props’ column of Inline The Skate Magazine May 1996 issue. It was an authorized re-print of Mike Vallely’s “notes: from the wilderness” column that ran in Powell’s fall/winter Team Zine.