With a history that is rooted in taking inspiration from different global communities, and influenced by a variety of forms of movement found in other traditional cultural practices, the sport of parkour is a melting pot of diversity, one that has had a queer takeover in the Welsh capital recently. With a flourishing club of queer people coming together on a weekly basis to help reignite the sport’s inclusive philosophy, Queer Parkour Cardiff (QPC) ensures a safe space for the community to thrive in.
Staying true to its global origins, Queer Parkour was established in 2021 by a group of people from across the world who felt that the sport was dominated by a heterosexual, cisgender male point-of-view, and in turn was creating a culture that didn’t feel safe for queer people to be a part of.
One of the founding members of this global queer parkour collective, and again a founding member of this local chapter in Cardiff, Jia Wei Lee, has strong roots in the queer community in this area of South Wales. Emboldened by their passion for parkour, and recognising the need to make more queer-friendly spaces for others to thrive in, Jia Wei worked with friends to establish QPC in April of this year and the club has quickly gained momentum.
Upon meeting QPC’s Founder and Operational Director Jia Wei when I took part in one of the club’s weekly Friday classes at Fluidity Freerun Academy in Cardiff, they shared more with me about the journey that the club has taken over a relatively short space of time.
“Just six months ago we only had eight members and we were really just a bunch of friends coming to Fluidity Freerun Academy to practice parkour together. We grew our following organically by sharing our story on social media, and encouraging others to come join us. As our social media following grew we saw more and more people came along to enjoy the sport and the community feeling and we now have a large group of us that come together each week!
“Things have moved pretty fast for us as this year we’ve already collaborated with Stonewall Cymru and Dyddiau Du and we’re really happy to now be a constituted group, being members of the LGBTQ+ Sports Network Wales and showcased on the Pride Sports Cymru website.
“We carry out weekly activities together and one of our main goals is making sure that parkour is inclusive and accessible for everyone. Our policies reflect this, with a focus on guaranteeing trans inclusion and eliminating homophobia, which was something we wanted to make sure we set in stone from the beginning – as a club, we practice what we preach and we’re making sure that when people come along to the classes that they feel safe and supported. We do free outdoor training sessions as well as this weekly one, which allows those people who don’t have the financial stability of being able to pay for coached sessions at the free-running gym, the opportunity to take part in the club too.”
Another founding member, Kian Telford, who is the club’s Policy Director, described to me his own involvement with QPC, as well as their personal history with the sport.
“Once a week or so I help to give free outdoor sessions around Cardiff, usually Cardiff Bay or the National Museum, and I use my previous experience of parkour to create an accepting environment for everyone. I started parkour at 11 years old, but found it was very cis, het leaning and the culture felt un-inclusive for me as a queer person. As I had mental health issues at the time I decided to give it up because of that reason. I never thought I’d do parkour again but only because of Queer Parkour Cardiff have I come back into it.”
Carrying on to explain why it’s important to have clubs like this where queer people can be free to enjoy sports in both outdoors, as well as more protected indoor spaces, Kian shared with me:
“Increased emboldened attacks on queer people in public spaces could act to make the community scared so we made a conscious decision to have events both inside, at our weekly catch-ups at Fluidity Freerun Academy and then outdoors too so we can represent ourselves in a public space and share the concept that we don’t have to hideaway to feel safe in the world when practicing sport as queer people.
“The origins of this sport is rooted in a philosophy of inclusion and freedom but because the people who became leaders in the space decided to generally not be accepting of the diverse groups of people who were interested in taking part, their attitudes went against the sport’s original goals. We’re now helping create a queer revolution of parkour and we’re using this to help liberate queer people to thrive in sporting environments and take part in anything and everything they want to.”
The next step in QPC’s revolution is their current fundraising campaign, where they’re looking for support in raising money to train two community coaches to provide free parkour classes for the queer community in South Wales, and hopefully further afield in the future.
Motivated by their core principle that everyone should have access to sports classes in safe spaces without being limited by financial constraints, Jia Wei explained more to me about why they are fundraising and what it will mean to the future of QPC:
“Kian and I currently run our outdoor sessions because we’re long-running parkour practitioners but without the right qualifications we aren’t able to carry out workshops, or collaborate with other organisations and community initiatives. This is holding us back from being able to have an even bigger impact and bringing the liberating experience of parkour to more people – not just here in Cardiff, we’d love to hold events in other places in the UK, or other cities around the world, and the money for these certifications will allow us to do that.”
Talking from my own experience of Queer Parkour Cardiff, the group’s mission matches the reality – I felt instantly welcomed, supported and celebrated. No one judged my poor attempts at a forward roll, giggled at my inexperienced jumps or batted an eyelid when I was squeamish about heights. And what’s more, I had a lot of fun too! If you are able to, help QPC in their goal of spreading this sense of supportive community into more safe spaces for queer people by donating to their fundraiser, or head on down to one of their events to feel that sense of community for yourself.
You can help support Queer Parkour Cardiff’s community coaches fundraising by donating using the link below:
To find out more about the club, or to get in touch with them, you can go to their social media pages: