Four years ago I rode in Columbus’ first World Naked Bike Ride. We started at the bike co-op. Unlike later years Pedal Instead wasn’t there to valet our bikes, we didn’t have a real planned path, or too much planned anything. Having not felt comfortable being nude on High Street, I wore a bathing suit bottom and sports bra, and had body paint around my abdomen and back that was supposed to look like animal print. It rained while we rode and was invigorating. I came home high on adrenaline.
This year, I’ve struggled with whether to go or not. I talked to my friend and journalist Aaron Cynic who covered the Chicago World Naked Bike Ride last weekend. I sought advice from him as he enjoyed the ride and kept a journalistic arms length distance. I love the World Naked Bike Rides but here in Columbus they have become associated with a group that I fear has encouraged gentrification with all the negative connotations. A group that participates in both institutionalized and overt class warfare.
Here in Columbus the ride is starting and ending at the same site that held the paint yourself as an Indian with small pox and drink whiskey at a “thanksgiving” party a few years ago. My objections to the party never gained apologies I was only ostracized as the dick who takes things too seriously. These same people throw up their arms in protest in “a hey can’t we just have fun” argument? Hells yeah we can have fun, but can we not do it at the cost of ousting a community or at least maybe have a discussion about it? Trust me I want to ride in the streets in my swimsuit and enjoy the carnival attitude of it all, but I can’t do it when it is hosted by a group of people who are racists. By racists I mean people who have done racist things, been called out on it, and continue to do it.
After much deliberation, I’ll reluctantly be bowing out from this year’s ride. Maybe you all need a talk with Andrew Ti.
P.S. Still think your dress as an Indian, paint small pox on yourself, whiskey drinking party was all fun? Why don’t you go tell my mother, grandmother, aunts and cousins that.