Since their first ride in the 1976 Gay Freedom Day march in San Francisco, the Dykes on Bikes (DOB) motorcycle club has been a longtime symbol of lesbian activism and sapphic resilience in the LGBTQ+ community — and the newly minted Seattle chapter has reached beyond Seattle for the chapter’s official long-term advocacy work.
Due to an August 2023 bomb threat made to Renton’s Brewmaster Taproom over the establishment’s monthly Drag Queen Story Time, owner Marley Rall was forced to postpone the event. Two weeks later, Story Time returned, but with a little something extra: volunteers from the brand new DOB chapter standing guard at the entrance and working as security, continuing a long tradition from the San Francisco mother chapter and the Dykes on Bikes who came before them.
One of the Story Time volunteers — who handles a Honda Shadow and goes by the rider name Dearborn — is a prominent member of the Seattle chapter and said that the club will continue to work as security for Brewmaster’s Drag Queen Story Time: “That’s a staple,” they said.
Dykes on Bikes Seattle President Wen Cruz said that events like Drag Queen Story Time have the club chapter’s full support.
“Upon inception, our club decided to commit to the mobilization of our efforts for trans lives, queer lives and for the youth in our community,” said Cruz. “Being the mother of a trans child, it felt important to me to support and enforce the safety of our queer spaces. It is pure displaced hatred and misinformation that fuels them, and I can only hope that our loud and powerful presence deters them.”
Since the chapter’s first official meeting in June 2023, Seattle Dykes on Bikes members have built up their advocacy work as route marshals at the Making Strides of Seattle breast cancer walk, and as security escorts and guards for Trans Pride Seattle and Seattle’s 2023 Dyke March.
“We got asked to do the Snohomish Pride,” said Camino, the Seattle chapter’s Road Captain, of their upcoming events.
As Seattle Dykes on Bikes expands its inclusive community outreach to help support LGBTQ+, people of color and “womxn” spaces, the chapter’s membership has accelerated as well.
“This chapter is growing a lot faster than any of the other chapters have, historically,” said Dearborn. According to Camino, Seattle Dykes on Bikes is the fastest growing and the largest chapter within US clubs.
With over 45 members (and counting), the Seattle chapter includes potential prospects, prospects and patched members. In motorcycle clubs, prospects are those who fully intend to become patched members. Patched members are those who have been initiated into the club and wear its distinct colors and patches on their motorcycle vest or jacket.
For both Dearborn and Camino, the biggest reason for getting their patches with Seattle Dykes on Bikes was the deep sense of community that comes with the club.
”I’ve kind of been jokingly saying, you know, the patch on our back, they call it our cut. Like, it’s because your family has your back. I feel like when I’m wearing my cut, I have my family on my back. The club has you,” said Camino. “Nobody really knew me when I broke my leg at the first meeting I attended and like, the whole club took care of me … free food, taking me to appointments, they were like coming to my house and bringing me stuff. I think that community is the reason why we’re doing this.”
Community within the Seattle chapter also goes beyond gender and sexuality.
“It doesn’t matter if you identify as like, specifically a lesbian or not, we have people all over the gender spectrum, like trans women, trans men. It’s very inclusive,” said Camino.
For more information on Seattle Dykes on Bikes, visit dykesonbikesseattle.org. To submit a request for the chapter’s volunteer service, visit bit.ly/SEA-DOB-volunteers.