Soni Wolf, co-founder of Dykes on Bikes, dies at 69


The late Wolf leaves a big mark | Photo: Facebook/San Francisco Dykes on Bikes WMC

Soni Wolf, a founding member of San Francisco’s Dykes on Bikes, has died at 69. She passed last Wednesday, 25 April, in her sleep due to natural causes.

The group announced her death on Monday (30 April).

Wolf was also a dedicated champion to LGBTQ rights and ‘an inspiring mother of the movement for lesbian pride and dignity’.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, Wolf moved to San Francisco in the 1970s.

Dykes on Bikes began in 1976. A group of 20-25 women on motorcycles rode at the front of the the SF Pride Parade.  For the next several years, the women simply showed up and rode in the parade. Thus, a tradition was born and in the 1980s, the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent was born (although press continued to refer to them as Dykes on Bikes).

At this year’s parade, Wolf’s closest friends will carry the painted gas tank from Wolf’s bike when she first rode in the parade.

Prior to her death, the Board of Directors of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee named Wolf the Community Grand Marshal for the 2018 San Francisco Pride Parade.

George Ridgely, Executive Director of SF Pride, said: ‘Soni’s legacy looms large at San Francisco Pride.

‘Our theme for 2018 is Generations of Strength, and 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.’

A trailblazer’s legacy

‘Soni leaves an indelible mark on history and especially on those who shared her daily life,’ said Kate Brown, past President and current Spokesperson for the San Francisco Dykes on Bikes.

‘She blazed the trail for the rest of us in courage and LGBTQ pride. She taught me leadership takes many forms; there is strength in patience, power in listening, and small acts have a way of being defining moments in history.’

One way Wolf made her mark was helping a group of lawyers over 14 years.

Led by Brooke Oliver at 50 Balmy Law, they successfully argued Dykes on Bike is protected speech. They also deemed the phrase as signifying pride within the community.

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