While it has improved noticeably even in the two years since I began training, there’s still a big lack of diversity in parkour, especially among coaches and other highly visible practitioners. As welcoming as everyone was when I started training, I couldn’t help noticing that when I looked around, I didn’t see anyone like me. It took me a long time to start feeling comfortable talking about myself, because there were no conversations happening, nothing to give me any indication of how people might react. The story I hear over and over again from people who fall outside the archetype of young, athletic and masculine, is “I loved it so much that I stayed, even though…” And every time, all I can think is, what about the people for whom that wasn’t enough, or the people who never tried in the first place because the images they’ve seen don’t include anyone like them?
The parkour community is amazingly accepting, and really does believe that there is room for anyone, but it’s not always very good at showing that when someone comes to train for the first time, feeling overwhelmed and out of place among a lot of people who don’t look like them. I’m working towards coaching myself, and in doing so I want to talk more openly about my own differences, to provide what bit of visibility I can. I also want to start conversations, with coaches, community leaders, and the community at large, about what we can do better to support people from underrepresented groups. Parkour has changed my life, largely in ways directly related to how I deviate from the popular image of a parkour practitioner, and I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have that experience.