Silent march creates a roar by Dykes on Bikes
Published Thursday, 24-Jul-2008 in issue 1074
Members of the San Diego Dykes on Bikes showed a galling lack of tact and sensitivity last week when San Diego Pride moved their contingent to fourth in the parade to accommodate a “March for Those Who Can’t,” a solemn procession which paid tribute to the millions of people worldwide who are persecuted for their sexual orientation in their home country.
Rather than commend Pride for drawing attention to global human rights violations, members of the Dykes on Bikes threw a temper tantrum about not leading the parade.
In letters and calls we’ve received, women have complained saying Dykes on Bikes have traditionally led parades nationwide for more than 30 years.
Some went so far as to suggest Ron deHarte, executive director of San Diego Pride, pushed a personal agenda by moving the motorcyclists to fourth; some claimed most people in the community are already aware of poor treatment of gays, lesbians and transgender people in other countries; and some said not allowing the Dykes on Bikes to lead the parade was a form of oppression against women.
The only legitimate argument the women had was overshadowed by their insensitivity and ignorance. They claimed not leading the parade and having their motorcycles run at low speeds for an extended period of time posed a safety risk.
They neglected to mention that, as the fourth contingent in the parade, the Dykes on Bikes were only preceded by the “March for Those Who Can’t,” the color guard carrying the U.S. and rainbow flags, and a Pride pace car, which tried to allow the motorcyclists enough time and space to ride without having to stop repeatedly, and to prevent overheating. The contingent did stop about four times, though.
The arguments presented by the women are insulting to our community and the San Diego Pride board of directors. It is a false assumption that most people, particularly younger people of our community, know about the human rights violations GLBT people face worldwide.
Even if most people are aware of the horrible conditions in other countries, what is the harm in shedding light on those conditions at the forefront of our celebration? What is more important: having the parade be led by the Dykes on Bikes, or shining a larger spotlight on the worldwide atrocities faced by our GLBT family members?
The fact is, there is no harm in straying from tradition.
“The March for Those Who Can’t” represented all members of our global community, not just one faction.
No one organization should lead the parade each year; it doesn’t reflect our diversity. Whether San Diego Pride chooses to elect a contingent that represents the year’s theme, or employ a lottery system to choose the first contingent, the parade should reflect our changing community and its shifting priorities; Pride should no longer allow any one organization to lead the parade each year.
San Diego Pride made a good choice allowing the “March for Those Who Can’t” to lead the parade. The contingent was a reminder that, regardless the rights we’ve won in California and the United States, our brothers and sisters in other countries are still fighting for basic protections.
By allowing the contingent to lead the parade, San Diego Pride put global human rights, not the rights or priorities of one group or community, at the forefront of our celebration. As progress is made and priorities shift, so, too, should our celebration.
If members of the Dykes on Bikes are convinced they’re being oppressed by being subjected to the fourth spot in the annual Pride parade, they may want to consider the conditions of GLBT people in other countries, such as Iran, where people persecuted for same-sex sex acts can be put to death; or in any number of other countries where gays, lesbians and transgender people are forced to live in silence; where gay and lesbian families face discrimination and are torn apart.
Before they continue to whine and draw attention to their misguided argument, they should take stock of what they have to be grateful for. The fact they’re allowed to celebrate their sexuality in our city’s largest civic event each year is something to be proud of; instead, the members of Dykes on Bikes should be ashamed this year of their behavior.

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