Pic: Kate Brown/GoFundMe
Soni Wolf, one of the founders of the global Dykes on Bikes movement that promotes lesbian pride and dignity, has died.
Wolf, who was a United States Air Force veteran, passed away peacefully of natural causes at her home in Daly City on the night of Wednesday 25 April at the age of 69.
She first rode with LB Gunn, Kalin Elliot-Arns, Christine Elliot, Sabine Balden and Mel at the front of the San Fransisco Pride Parade in 1976.
Ever since, for four decades, Dykes on Bikes have led the city’s parade every year – and many others around the world.
Wolf helped the organisation evolve into a non-profit, spearheading its mission to create a national and international community of women’s motorcyclists supporting philanthropic endeavors in LGBTQ communities.
Her death comes just days after she was named a Community Grand Marshal for the 48th Annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade next month.
San Francisco Pride said it mourned her passing and applauded Wolf for having “challenged us all to be a little braver, to live as loud as the motorcycles that lead the Pride Parade every year.”
Over 14 years ago, Soni assisted a team of pro bono lawyers to successfully argue, all the way to the US Supreme Court twice, that the term ‘Dykes on Bikes’ signifies pride within the community and is protected as political speech.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office had refused to resister the group’s trademark because it was seen as “disparaging” to a group of people. In 2005, after a prolonged court battle, the name was finally registered.
Kate Brown, Spokesperson for the San Francisco Dykes on Bikes, commented: “Soni leaves an indelible mark on history and especially on those who shared her daily life. Soni steadfastly refused to accept ‘Dyke’ as an epithet. She blazed the trail for the rest of us in courage and LGBTQ pride.”
Dykes on Bikes will lead over 250 contingents in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade on Sunday 24 June. Wolf will be represented in the parade by her closest friends carrying the historic and beautifully painted gas tank from the motorcycle she rode in the first Dykes on Bikes contingent. Wolf will also be remembered in a public celebration at the Pride Parade’s main stage.