Roller derby is the only place I know where we are all different and yet still manage to accept and support each other. We are: gay, straight, bi, or nearly asexual; virgins, sluts, poly, monogamous, kinky, married, single; heartbroken, madly in love, or simply alone. We may have never had a significant other, or we may be in committed relationships that have lasted several decades.
We are tattooed, or not. We are pierced, or not. We come in every shade of skin imaginable. Regardless of our “upholstery”, we all bleed red. We are religious, or not. We are Jewish, Catholic, Mormon, Christian, Muslim, Pagan, Atheist, UU; not interested, in too deep, confused, seeking, or just trying to recover from any of the above.
We are parents, or not. We may have a house full of kids. Some of our “kids” may have fur, or feathers, or scales.
We are waitresses, doctors, musicians, artists, cowgirls, lawyers, teachers, students, and therapists. We are rich, poor, or just doing ok. Some are recovering addicts. Some of us are criminals, hopefully reformed, or at least working on it. Some of us have been homeless and know what it’s like to be hungry and alone.
As children, we may have been born to a great family, been spoiled, abused, ignored, or loved unconditionally. We grew up as nerds, jocks, preppies, bullies, outsiders, and invisibles. Some of us went to college, some did not. Some barely, or never, finished high school.
We are kind, angry, frustrated, peaceful, depressed, happy, crazy, enthusiastic, giddy, sick, and tired. We are also quiet, loud, and surprisingly shy; sometimes we exhibit all those things within a span of minutes.
We are vegans, meat-eaters, hunters, gatherers and everything in between. I think most of us in derby are addicted to bananas.
The things we do not have in common could fill volumes. What is important is that we meet at a skating rink, often exhausted and grumpy after a long day of work, school, and taking care of everyone else in our lives, and we work together. Strapping on skates and gear we drag ourselves onto a small oval track to sweat together, bleed together, and learn to fight fairly as we practice teamwork and communication. We work our asses off to get stronger. Sometimes we snap at each other, but more often we shout encouragement. We each learn that no matter who we are, there is a place for us in derby. Anyone is invited to join us, to get knocked down, to learn to get up, and to always lend a helping hand to not only our teammates, but to our rivals as well.
After a hard fought derby bout the losers are quick to drop to one knee and graciously thank the winning team, because we understand and appreciate the hard work and dedication it took for them to get there. No matter the final score, there is something to be learned from everyone. We truly do appreciate each other’s journey and commitment to this sport we love. Hopefully, when it’s time to go home, we have been reminded that each and every one of us is strong, worthy of respect, and capable of doing so much more than we ever believed. We are reminded of the value of hard work, of a common goal, and of good sportsmanship.
Most importantly, we are reminded that all our differences make no difference, because above all else we are sisters and brothers. That is what I wish the world knew about roller derby. Because if a band of unlikely misfits like us can achieve this, just think what the whole world could do if everyone committed to becoming each other’s family. Instead of worrying about what someone else is thinking about, who they love, or what they are doing with their private bits, what if we each focused on treating each other with care, dignity, and respect?
What if we become quicker to lend a helping hand and pick each other up, give a needed push to get someone through a hard time, or defend our brothers and sisters from those who wish to harm them; and slower to anger and judge? What if we were committed to a common goal, instead of letting our own insecurities and obsessions over things that are truly none of our business drive us to senseless acts of persecution? I believe… no, I KNOW we would all be better for it. It really isn’t as hard as you think.
Life is like derby. At least I think it should be.
For the love of derby and peace,
Kinetic Rage, #71
Springfield's Queen City Roller Derby