The Significance of Keep on Board: The Leo Baker Story

As a teen and as a younger grownup, Leo Baker was a rising star within the aggressive skateboarding scene — a gritty, down-to-earth sport that had lengthy been excluded from extra conventional landscapes such because the Olympics. When skateboarding was launched throughout the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, reactions from the skate neighborhood had been combined, however many professionals and followers of the game noticed the transfer as an opportunity to convey skateboarding to the world stage.

It was no shock that Baker certified for the Olympics after successful the Avenue League Tremendous Crown in 2016 and a string of different worldwide skating competitions. However the Olympics is organized by intercourse assigned at start, not gender id — and there is at the moment no choice for nonbinary or genderqueer athletes to compete. By 19, Baker knew he was trans, however at 28 he’d certified for the ladies’s Olympic group.

The Olympics have a really regressive stance on trans athletes. In 1968, the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) mandated “gender verification” for feminine athletes, which, in its early years, included visible commentary and gynecological examination earlier than turning to “much less invasive” genetic testing. The coverage, which was launched to forestall males from utilizing their obvious bodily benefit in ladies’s sports activities, led to 1999 — however not likely. Athletes like Indian sprinter Dutee Chand and South African runner Caster Semenya have been compelled to bear testing since then, and trans athletes have lengthy referred to as for updates to the IOC’s insurance policies.

The discriminatory historical past of aggressive sports activities left Baker with a alternative: to compete or bow out. Baker determined to stop the Olympics. What occurred subsequent is the topic of the brand new documentary “Keep on Board: The Leo Baker Story,” which premiered at movie pageant Outfest in July earlier than arriving on Netflix on August 11.

“I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life, past what I may have ever even imagined,” Baker advised Rolling Stone in an interview. He added, “Purging all of the stuff that was not working for me, like quitting the Olympics and eliminating all these items that was not ‘it,’ created a clearing for issues which can be it or could possibly be it.”

The documentary exhibits Baker, now 30, doing what he loves on his personal phrases. Along with touchdown a sponsorship with Nike, Baker cofounded the queer skate firm Glue Skateboards with fellow skater Stephen Ostrowski.

“We take our group on journeys and do issues that we had been by no means capable of do as a result of there was not house for trans queer individuals to be in skating in that means,” Baker advised Rolling Stone. “We’re dwelling our childhood desires of occurring skate journeys, filming, hanging out with our group and being round individuals which can be queer or are down for us.”

However getting the movie proper was a course of. After getting suggestions throughout an early screening course of, administrators Nicola Marsh and Giovanni Reda realized they wanted assist to correctly inform Baker’s story. Each cisgender, the administrators invited GLAAD Director of Transgender Illustration Alex Schmider onto the undertaking to make sure they had been depicting the story with dignity. He finally joined as an govt producer.

“Regardless of the stakes or expectations, regardless of how excessive or set, Leo exhibits it is by no means too late to be your self and outline the phrases on your life.”

“Credit score to Nicola and Reda, who, when made conscious of the movie’s limitations, knew to interact with a filmmaker from the trans neighborhood to assist inform Leo’s story with authenticity,” Schmider tells POPSUGAR. “This type of collaboration can solely succeed when everyone seems to be keen to belief one another, be open to suggestions, and transfer with intention and accountability towards a shared imaginative and prescient, which Nicola and Reda did with a real need to inform Leo’s story with the deepest respect for the communities he is an element.”

Schmider continued: “Many tales about trans individuals miss that probably the most compelling elements of our lives aren’t essentially about our gender however reasonably the person methods we transfer by means of the world as ourselves. So when telling tales about trans individuals, the objective for me is for audiences to get to know and see the total individual; on this case, Leo, in his multidimensionality.”

To Schmider, Baker’s story is about braveness, and the heart it takes to pursue a life actually aligned with who you might be. “Regardless of the stakes or expectations, regardless of how excessive or set, Leo exhibits it is by no means too late to be your self and outline the phrases on your life.”

Now you can stream “Keep on Board: The Leo Baker Story” on Netflix.