A Short Herstory:
Without a shadow of a doubt, this is where collective Lesbian political protest and visibility began. Dykes on Bikes are the grandmother of the Lesbian protest movement; so, arguably, Lesbian feminism, Lesbian Separatism, Lesbian Avengers and Lesbian/Dyke protest up to the present day began in San Francisco 1976.
The following is taken from the San Francisco Dykes on Bikes® website.
In 1976 a small group of 20 – 25 women motorcyclists gathered at the head of the San Francisco Pride Parade and, unbeknownst to them, a tradition began. One of these women coined the phrase “Dykes on Bikes®” and the San Francisco Chronicle picked it up and ran with it. For the next several years, riders just showed up and rode—no formal organization or registration. It was this way for several years until the middle to late 1980s. However, as SF Pride became more structured and our numbers kept growing, the need to organize Dykes on Bikes® became necessary; thus, the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent (WMC) was born.. However, in the press and LGBT culture, we continued to be known as Dykes on Bikes®.
The WMC was started by LB Gunn, Kalin Elliot-Arns, Christine Elliot, Sabine Balden and Mel. This name was used to make the group appeal to all women motorcyclists. The first meetings were held at a private home and then moved to an upstairs room at Amelia’s, a dyke/lesbian bar. When Amelia’s closed, the meetings were moved to The Eagle Tavern, at 12th St. and Harrison St., where meetings continue to be held. In 2003, the organizers voted to recognize our long history by changing the name To the San Francisco Dykes on Bikes® Women’s Motorcycle Contingent (SFDOBWMC). Today we register and organize over 400 bikes for the San Francisco Pride Parade.
San Francisco is the mother chapter for the Dykes on Bikes® community. We have fought hard for and reclaimed the name Dykes on Bikes® to support non-profit, community and education efforts in the LGBT and women’s motorcycle communities. The San Francisco Dykes on Bikes® and Brook Oliver Law Group, P.C. filed and successfully fought the US Patent Trademark Office for the right to trademark our name “Dykes on Bikes” for non-commercial use. Our journey took 5 years (spanning 2003 to 2008) and was supported by many people and organizations including the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Townsend and Townsend and Crew. After being denied by the US Patent Trademark Office we took our case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and eventually to the Supreme Court who refused to hear a challenge to our to trademark our name, thus affirming the decision by the lower court to allow registration of the name. We could not have done it without all the help provided by our community, incredible legal team and the hard work of the patch holders, Board of Directors and Officers of the San Francisco Dykes on Bikes®.
Dykes on Bikes® London was started by two patches from Sussex in early 2018 and became a prospective chapter in May 2018. San Francisco conferred official chapter status in February 2019.