Cirque du SoGay: Hott & Healthy Queers hit the road this Saturday
A rider at last year's event
Photo by Joe Sullivan
This Saturday marks the return of Cirque du SoGay. For those not in the know, this bike scavenger hunt is in it's fourth year. It's put together by the Queer Bike Gang, an advocacy cycling group with a naughty sense of humor. The event is reminiscent of an "alleycat" race, as riders receive a list of checkpoints where they stop to do something quirky and fun in order to get their cards stamped.
Last year, the event was S&M themed. This year's ride is plotted around health and wellness. "There's so many organizations working on queer health around the Twin Cities, but I'm not going to name all of them because then it will just give everything away!" says SoGay coordinator EG Nelson.
Riders at last year's event
Photo by Joe Sullivan
So, what is it about cycling that connects with Twin Cities LGBTQ subsets? And what are some local resources for transfolk interested in using their bike as an activist tool?
"There are lots of queer people who feel comfortable in the dominant biking scene -- no problem. But a lot of times, there's this culture of 'Well, what are you doing here?'" says Nelson. Some grassroots efforts to combat this alienation have involved creating women- and trans-friendly rides, plus DIY education on repair and maintenance.
Grease Rag and Wrench, a forum created to support women, trans, and femme cyclists, is responsible for nights at the Hub at the U of M Bike Center, the Recovery Bike Shop in Northeast, Spokes in Seward, and Sunrise Cyclery in Uptown. That's an impressive spread for an organization that is only three years old, but it isn't the only group using this model.
"There are a number of women and trans events," Nelson says, "and some of these events have been criticized because it feels like 'trans' is just thrown in to be PC, and they aren't doing anything to really connect with transgender people. I feel that some are better than others. I feel like Grease Rag does the best they can to not police gender in any way in their space, which is really good... I like that they're trying to get people to be cognizant and not put their labels on other people. But I also say that as a white cisgendered female person. So, I don't know everything that might be missing."
Photo by Joe Sullivan
Another bike shop nonprofit that recently began a women and trans night is Cycles for Change, located in the Frogtown area of St. Paul. Program associate Remy Corso has been involved in the planning. "I think, historically, it's been more centered around feminine and femme identifies -- probably with that being most of the staff that's worked on planning the night and put it together," he says. "So, I'm really the first person who's come into and helped with the planning from a trans and trans-masculine perspective. One of the things still up in the air for Cycles for Change is, 'How do we frame this more broadly?' But it's basically the same concept as Women, Trans, and Femme night at the Hub."
For folks just starting take off their training wheels in the LGBTQ cycling community, Cirque du SoGay is a good event to start with. "It's the one place that I feel comfortable as a trans, bike-jock woman," says Katie Burgess, executive director of the Trans Youth Network.
There are two different routes on Saturday, making it friendly to riders of different ability levels. The shorter "Virgin" route includes a guide with coordinated stops. On the 30-mile "Harder!Faster" route, participants plot their own path and bring their own map.
Straight folks are encouraged to attend as well. "We like people!" says Nelson. There will also be an after party starting at 8 p.m. at Intermedia Arts where there will be plenty of shenanigans for all, including pedal-powered smoothies, sexy and silly dance performances, the hottest hott mess contest, and lots of prizes, including a Surly single-speed bicycle.
IF YOU GO:
Cirque du SoGay: Hott & Healthy Queers
1400 S. Park Ave., Minneapolis
Launch at 4 p.m., register at 3 p.m..
For more information visit online queerbikes.org
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Minneapolis & St. Paul and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.