Irene Meza-Herrig is a part of the San Diego Women Motorcycle Riders contingent which leads the parade every year.
If this year’s San Diego Pride theme is “Persist with Pride” then Irene Meza-Herrig and more than 100 other women are doing it full throttle with the San Diego Women Motorcycle Riders (SDWMR) contingent. Each year this large caravan of bikes leads the parade with their bone-rattling pistons firing with pride, and it just keeps getting bigger.
Irene, originally from Oceanside, has been volunteering for this group for about eight years after some of the original members moved away, leaving them without leadership. She makes sure the team is organized, informed of the rules, checked in and positioned correctly before making their way down the parade route ahead of the male motorcycle groups.
“I love my community,” Irene says, “so I took it upon myself to meet with the San Diego Pride committee and told them I would help out in any way I could. With the help of Donna Danzig we were able to make sure the contingency flows without any major issues.”
This collective consists of women from other motorcycle clubs as well as those who just want to represent or support the LGBT community riding their own choppers.
Irene's love of bikes was inspired by her father who was an avid rider himself. Now, with her own ride, a Yamaha V-Star 1300 Tourer, Irene represents the SDWMR and leads the pack.
“I have been riding in the parade since 1994 under the name of Dykes on Bikes, other names this contingency rode under was Women Moto, which was a San Diego motorcycle club," she explains. "That club no longer exists, hence why it is now called San Diego Women Motorcycle Riders. This encompasses all female riders and does not matter what club they belong too.”
The group has grown over the years. “More and more women are buying bikes of every kind and I get emails always asking what it takes to ride with us.”
She says all female riders are welcome to join whether they are gay, bi, transgender or straight--and join they do. It’s an example of how diverse and accepting San Diego is.
“What I love about our community is the unity we have here," she explains. "It does not matter how young or old you are everyone counts. I love the fact that there are many resources for the LGBT community and that anyone who needs help there is always someone around to help them.”
But this year, through all of the fun, excitement, and roar of the engines, she has concerns; fears she feels make the upcoming parade more important than ever before.
“With all that is going on in our country, I am actually scared for myself as a lesbian. I feel we are working harder to just get simple civil rights we are entitled too, and this administration is pushing us backwards and back in the closet."
So Irene is embracing this year's message as a mantra of empowerment. Despite her fears, she not letting anything--or anyone-- take her away from her duties, keeping that pole position as one of the first faces people see along the parade route.
"This year's theme says it all 'Persist with Pride,'" she says proudly, "that is the only way our voices can be heard.”