Dykes on Bikes!

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Photos of fearless women on motorcycles, from the 1996 San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Pride Parade

Dykes on Bikes 1

It’s my first time here so I don’t know quite what to expect for the opening salvo, but all the other photographers are really jazzed up. Suddenly the crowd lining an empty Market Street breaks into a cheer at the tiger growl of motorcycles approaching in low gear. The parade has begun…

 

Dykes on Bikes 2

…You see the Rainbow Flag a lot in the city during the parade and festival, of course. But you can always find it year round if you stroll the streets long enough, hanging like a curtain in a bay window or fluttering in the ocean breeze from a private flagpole…

 

Dykes on Bikes 3

…Some decry the public sexuality found at Pride events. But it’s little different from Carnival, when Catholics blow off steam before the austerity of Lent, or Saturnalia, when Roman slaves would bring the Empire under their rule, if but for a day…

 

Dykes on Bikes 4

…If you just want to watch, arrive early to snag a good spot in the shade of the high-rises. But to shoot, grab the sunscreen and hit the barricaded intersections. The colors will be brighter and you’ll only have to elbow a few dozen sweating photographers…

 

Dykes on Bikes 5

…Trikes are undergoing a renaissance, and they do have advantages over two-wheelers in city traffic. But whatever axle grinds you, go on at least one run in your life, with nothing between you and that ribbon of highway but the wind in your face and maybe a bit of luck…

 

Dykes on Bikes 6

…My mother had passed away a couple of years previously. She had come out long before, but so far as I know had never made it to a major Pride event. So in a way being here was my private moment of tribute to her courage, as well as those great dyke threads she wore…

 

Dykes on Bikes 7

…Whether by the heroism and sacrifice of a Stonewall or the revel and rush of a Pride Parade, one measure of a people’s power is whether they can march openly through the streets of their own country, their banner held aloft to weather the sunlight and the storms of freedom.

 

Photos and text are Copyright © 1999 by David Arv Bragi. All rights reserved.

David Arv Bragi is the editor of the grail multicultural blog.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The preceding post originally appeared in the online multicultural journal New Tribal Dawn, which published essays, fiction and poetry from 1999 to 2007. Although the journal is no longer active, we are preserving its fine literary archive here for posterity.)

Learn more about San Francisco’s annual Pride Parade.

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