The 47th annual New York Pride March began the same way it has for the last 30 years: with a cacophony of revving motorcycles and honking horns, orchestrated by a pack of lesbians straddling hogs and Vespas. They are the Sirens, New York City's largest and oldest women's motorcycle club, though their ranks are open to "anyone who identifies as female." The group currently totals about 40 women, ranging from 29 to over 70 years old, and they have kicked off the parade every year since 1987 at the head of an ever-larger motorcycle contingent sometimes topping a hundred riders.
This year's ride will be more than just motorcycles: The Sirens are riding with an enormous banner that pictures and names all the victims who perished in the Orlando shooting of June 13. "We really wanted them to lead the parade," Jen Baquial, the current president of the Sirens, told Broadly a few days before the event. "They will be the first thing everyone sees coming down Fifth Ave. This was very important to us, so this is our tribute to them."
Broadly caught up with Baquial again just minutes before the march began. "Between last year and this year, it's a huge difference. The mood is completely different because of Orlando. This time last year we were celebrating, it was a huge party [because of] marriage equality across the country. This year, because of Orlando, we know we need to continue to march."
Once the parade began, it wasn't all melancholy. After an explosion of glittering confetti, the Sirens began the march, cheering, with their iconic black leather, rainbow flags, and sweet rides.