SAN FRANCISCO - Since 1976, Soni Wolf and her sisters rode at the front of the San Francisco Pride Parade as co-founder of Dykes on Bikes and the mother of the movement that embraces lesbian pride and dignity.
When the parade kicks off this year on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., it will be the first without her. Wolf died in April at age 69. Just before her death, the Pride committee had chosen her to be the Grand Marshal for the 2018 parade.
To honor her memory, Wolf will be represented by her closest friends carrying the historic painted gas tank from the motorcycle she first rode down Market Street.
“Soni’s legacy looms large at San Francisco Pride,” said George Ridgely, Executive Director of San Francisco Pride, “It is with immense gratitude that we recognize and celebrate Soni’s life and contributions. The Dykes on Bikes contingent is an integral and essential component of our Parade. I speak both personally and on behalf of the entire organization when I say that Soni is greatly loved and will be missed.”
Wolf helped Dykes on Bikes evolve into non-profit of female motorcyclists supporting philanthropic endeavors in LGBTQ communities, according to the organization. She was the group’s secretary and historian.
Wolf also guided a team of lawyers led by Brooke Oliver at 50 Balmy Law, who worked pro bono to successfully argue, all the way to the US Supreme Court twice, that the trademark Dykes on Bikes signifies pride within the LGBTQ community and is protected as political speech, her organization said.
The Dykes on Bikes’ legal strategy helped overturn an unconstitutional law, part of the Lanham Act, in what has been hailed as one of the most important Freedom of Expression cases in years.
San Francisco Dykes on Bikes is the mother chapter to all Dykes on Bikes charters. There are currently 16 chapters worldwide throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia.
Before coming to San Francisco, Wolf grew up in Rhode Island and was an Air Force medic during the Vietnam War. Back in the 1970s, she moved to the Castro Disrict and joined a group of lesbians who decided to ride their motorcycles in the city's gay and lesbian parade. The San Francisco Chronicle noted that she and her friends moved to the front of the procession so that their bikes wouldn't overheat while idling. Someone in the crowd shouted out "Dykes on Bikes," and the Chronicle ran with it.
A public recognition of Wolf’s life and contributions to the LGBTQ community will take place on Sunday on the SF Pride main stage. The San Francisco Dykes on Bikes created a special email address RememberingSoni@dykesonbikes.org where people can send their thoughts, memories, stories, and goodbyes to Wolf. Donations to the Soni Wolf Memorial fund established through the Dykes on Bikes are tax-deductible. Contributions to the fund can be made through GoFundMe at the Soni Wolf Memorial Fund Website. For information about Pride, click here.