“The Leo Baker Story” is a tale of a trans man coming out to the public sphere after being a successful American skateboarder, one of the first to be a part of the woman’s skateboarding team representing Team America at the Olympics.
A Netflix Original Documentary directed by Giovanni Reda and Nicola Marsh, released on August 11th, 2022, is about Leo Baker’s journey from being born as a woman (Lacey Baker), becoming a sought-after skateboarder in the USA, relying on skateboarding, which wasn’t considered a form of sport. Leo’s journey from Lacey to the person he became is documented concisely.
Who is Leo Baker?
“Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story” does a decent job of showcasing Leo, formerly known as Lacey’s tryst with the sport he loved growing up and his relationship with his mother, who, despite her shortcomings as a substance abuse survivor, gave everything she could to support Leo’s dream of becoming a successful skateboarder.
The documentary covers Leo/Lacey’s life as a girl who tried hard to fit in throughout his life as a girl/woman, from his early teenage days till his adult life as a transman. Through many vintage footage of Leo slowly gaining confidence in the field he chose to excel in, the audiences get to understand his struggles not just as a budding sports person but as an individual struggling with his sexuality/orientation since a very young age. From being an amateur skateboarder to becoming a professional, making an impact on this sport and building the game to be a mainstream one. The documentary rightly points out how female-led skateboarding was never taken seriously by any league or sponsors. Leo/Lacey, and his mother had to depend on various competitions and the prize money they offered.
Leo Baker, previously known as Lacey Baker, soon became a household name for garnering enough popularity for himself through the sport, getting selected for USA’s first-ever women’s skateboarding team even though Leo was facing an identity crisis himself. Soon, when Leo realizes he needs to shed his Lacey version of himself, is when he decides to take crucial steps for his mental sanity.
‘Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story’ Ending Explained: The Transition From Lacey To Leo
The second half of the documentary focused on Lacey’s transition to Leo, his mental deterioration, Leo’s taking control of his life, and *spoiler alert* Leo’s quitting the Olympic team to focus on his gender reconstructive surgery. His girlfriend supports him from the start to help him prepare for the surgery. The ending focuses on how it is important to think about your happiness over something that would easily give you glory and recognition. Leo’s pulling out of the Olympics sends a message to everyone out there to think of their happiness and mental well-being first. Gather support from people you love and do what you think is right for you. Melissa, Leo’s girlfriend, supports Leo through and through, even though she is not seen in the last ten minutes of the documentary, implying that they might be broken up after Leo’s recovery from the surgery.
Leo’s attempt to reestablish himself as a skater makes him start a venture with his other queer friends, a skateboarding academy called GLUE, that teaches people of every sexuality the art of this unique sport and sells their merchandise. The whole idea of starting GLUE is to embrace every gender and encourage people to come out as they are and not let their gender define their life and live as per their rules and not the rules defined by organizations or society.
“Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story” also stressed how endorsement deals do not come easily for the queer population, and many international sports organizations do not make it easy for the queer population to participate in worldwide events, including the Olympics. This documentary does the right thing by asking pertinent questions such as why queer people are segregated from participating in any world events. They deserve representation. By the end of the documentary, endorsement deals come flowing in for Leo once he comes out as a transman. Leo’s life story through this docu-feature is an inspiration to many who want to come out and are not given any agency to do that.
Leo Baker’s life story is truly worth putting out there for the world to see, but the makers kind of brushed aside a lot of information from his childhood as Lacey and the troubles she faced growing up as a trans person. Overall, “Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story” is a moving tale of acceptance from partners, parents, friends, and acquaintances. Directors Giovanni Reda and Nicola Marsha put forward an earnest story of a queer sportsman who wants to be accepted for who he is and will go miles to support the cause of every LGBTQ sportsperson. A documentary feature that is a must-watch in current times.
“Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story” is right now streaming on Netflix with subtitles.