Metro Newspaper

#Pride30: Roller derby skater finds community in queer Winnipeg league

By: Danelle Granger For Metro

Published on Sun May 14 2017

When Alex Krosney first went to Pride Winnipeg as a teenager, she wasn’t out to anyone, including her family.

But a pair of roller skates helped her along.

“When I went out, it was pretty incredible. It was the first time I had seen just how big the queer community in Winnipeg was,” said the 25-year-old, more than six years later.

She also saw the Winnipeg Roller Derby League at that first Pride event. Krosney joined the league in 2011 when she was still in university, and it was the first group of people she came out to.

“It’s weird when you get out of high school and everyone knows you. I dated a really nice boy in high school and kind of went through the motions. So everyone I grew up with knew me as a straight person,” said Krosney.

While being in the league, she was also working with Vagine Regime, an international roller derby league. She said she was so excited about the work she was doing, it gave her the courage to come out to her parents.

Pride was and is the driving factor behind the league’s Pride bout, which takes place during the weeklong festivities. There are roller derby matches for beginner skaters and more advanced skaters, alike.

“Pride was something we used as a league to be like ‘Hey everybody supports it, our league has been walking in it forever. What if we took it a step further and did this Pride bout, where it kind of involved a bigger part of the community?’” she said.

Pride also had an impact on the league’s inclusion policies. Krosney said they started including a gender-neutral washroom at the Pride bout events, and then at other events too.

Anyone who identifies as female or non-binary is also welcome to skate at the derby bout.

What’s your favourite pride moment? Two years ago at Pride, I went with my league, and my parents came out to support me with their three dogs. They showed up and met my team with the dogs all in rainbow bandanas, which was really nice.

Why was Pride important 30 years ago? I think 30 years ago, visibility was a lot more ground-breaking than it is now. I think to have a space where you know the people around you – aren’t the same as you, but are living the same experiences as you – I think Pride would’ve been one of the only places to find that sort of community.

Why is Pride important now? I think Pride’s important today because queer rights are not a guaranteed thing. We’re lucky in Canada, our policies are more progressive. But, all you have to do is look south of the border to see that gay rights or queer rights are not as safe. I think constantly having a positive, visible presence is part of what protects those rights that we have.