Bikers visit CQ for Fair Day
HEIDI Merrin was only four when she started getting beaten up by other children in her small Queensland home town.
“I and other kids who were gay left for the city the day we graduated from high school and I’ve never been back,” she said.
On Friday, it was the big city ladies’ turn to head up the coast, to make an appearance at the Central Queensland Fair Day in Rockhampton.
The fair, which celebrates the diversity of our region’s LGBTIQ community, attracted families and pets to Victoria Park.
The Morning Bulletin caught up with the Queensland Dykes on Bikes chapter as they massed at South Rockhampton’s ‘Fountain Park’.
The Brisbane riders left home at 6am Friday and only encountered roadworks delays in their final stretch.
They were joined by four local women who ride out together the second Sunday of every month.
It is the third year that Dykes on Bikes have made a headline appearance at Fair Day, and president Julz Raven said they enjoyed a great reception from locals.
“It can be tough for young people who are trans or lesbian in the regional areas so we come out and make a big of noise to offer them support,” she said.
“A lot of country children who become displaced because they are gay end up in the city so it’s nice to let them know they have a ready made family there.”
Candice Valenzuala moved seven years ago from the capital to Rockhampton where, she said, “things are definitely getting better”.
“I think the publicity surrounding marriage equality helped,” she said.
“We held a photo shoot here in Rockhampton, and the next thing people came out of the woodwork to acknowledge us as part of the community.”
The women agreed that, at the end of the day, the city/country divide meant little compared with what they had in common as women.
“But Harley rider are always better!” piped a voice from the back.
“Says the Harley rider whose bike’s broken down,” came a response.
In addition to riding, the group is looking for a new charity to which to donate.
They raise money by selling clothing and bottle openers, and are currently raffling off the opportunity for a lucky winner to ride with them in the Sydney Mardi Gras celebrations.