Bearings, a Woman, Transgender, and Queer Bike Project had its first fundraiser on Friday, December 2, at The Bell Foundry. Filled with raffle prizes, dance, burlesque, music and drag king performances and a dance party that lasted to the wee hours Bearings introduced itself with flirt, fun, art, and proud-queer attitude. Still in its genesis, Bearings has now launched into the public sphere. Made-up of six young cycling activists, they’re organizing this envisioned safe space with specific goals in mind. One is to bring about a DIY (do-it-yourself) bike shop (similar to Baltimore’s Velocipede) where individuals are empowered to learn and enact bicycle repair, outside of expensive capitalistic bike shop culture; making bikes more accessible to more people. Second, is to be an educational force, not just for bike maintenance, but also in regards to culture, community, gender, sexual identity, and diversity.
While it is evident that the project still has many future hurdles, including: determining project structure, delegating common/individual tasks, opening/building out a shop, mapping logistics, and even undertaking self-education surrounding feminist and LGBTQ issues the organizers hold the importance of this space in immediate agreement. Their concurrence: Cycling is a cis-male dominated world. Even if they [cis-males] have golden intentions, that power structure is already built into the community. Folks that are marginalized need separate spaces. They don’t mean to compete with already established shops. Yet, Bearings means for those who are ordinarily stripped of power to have room to empower themselves for women, queer, and trans-folks to be the collaborative teachers/students, in a mechanical world that is historically dominated by cis-male privilege. If you are not female, queer, or transgender, you are welcome at Bearings, but you will not be a project organizer; and everyone, regardless of identity, is required to respect safe space protocol.
The project is in its infancy. It will be interesting to watch its developments as the shop unfolds and the project matures, and as it attempts to fit into Baltimore’s already established cycling, LGBTQ, DIY punk, and feminist communities.
Regardless of its future, its vision is one of radical community-self-empowerment and education; where marginalized communities collectively decide their own realities outside of reigning hegemony.
Bearings aims to open in spring 2012. Please, visit their website for more details: http://bmorebearings.org