This past weekend, while the majority of people who visited Montreal had come for the Grand Prix, the coolest rides were found at the city’s World Naked Bike Ride, which took place on the morning of June 12.
There was something especially magical about these two events happening simultaneously. Each year on Grand Prix weekend I shudder as I watch my city overflow with testosterone, silicone, cars and ignorance united for a drunken celebration of the squandering of our natural resources. Needless to say I avoid this event – which some of my friends have jokingly called Straight Pride – like the plague. This year, however, there was another celebration going that brought me out of hiding: that of the environment, sustainability, bicycles and freedom of expression.
About 75 people met at Parc Bellerive bright and early, slipped into their birthday suits and took to the streets. As a burlesque performer, a nudist and a cyclist, words cannot express how liberating this felt. I’d already accepted that if I was ever to get arrested it would be for indecent exposure, but that was not happening on Saturday. The police allotted 15 minutes to undress, one hour to bike and 15 minutes after the ride to get dressed.
Some bikers said they were unhappy the event couldn’t take place at the city’s centre, but taking into consideration what happened to our neighbours in Ottawa, Montrealers should consider themselves lucky. Bikers in the nation’s capital were allowed to go topless but were forbidden to bare their crown jewels, honeypots or fannies if they wanted to avoid getting arrested, because being naked in public is illegal.
The fact that the police in Montreal and many other cities turned a blind eye to this law reminds me of the feeling I get during gay pride celebrations when rainbows of acceptance somehow overshadow homophobia. When everyone removed their blindfolds and public nudity became once again illegal, I felt like a drag queen removing her wig after the Pride parade.
Luckily, Montrealers won’t have to wait a whole year before baring it all on their bikes because the event organizers, Amelia Mensch and Daniel Young Parkinson, have planned another ride at midnight on Saturday, Aug 6.
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