Homobiles: Transportation With A Social Mission
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Time to take a ride on the night shift with a service in San Francisco that has been called Uber for Drag Queens. Homobiles has a social mission. They give rides to people who might get harassed or can't get a cab because of their appearance or gender identity. The organization's motto is moes gettin' hoes where they needs to goes. The Kitchen Sisters' producers Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva present Homobiles, a history of transportation, civil rights and glitter.
LYNNEE BREEDLOVE: Hey, Homobiles. This is Lynnee.
UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: 859 Union.
BREEDLOVE: 859 Union. Yeah. Hey, could you text me that?
One babe, one bag going to (unintelligible).
I will give it to the driver and they'll be there in about 10 minutes.
JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND: I was having a hair appointment. I was getting my hair blown out at Dina's Glamorama. My friend said, Lynnee Breedlove has started Homobiles. Call if you need a ride. And so I told them where I was, and I needed a car. They sent, I think it was Musty Chiffon. Yes, it was Musty Chiffon. She showed up and was my driver. So all of a sudden, this person who I had known in clubs, we were driving in a car and talking with each other. They asked for a suggested donation. And of course, you just want to give them the entire contents of your pocketbook because they're so lovely.
BREEDLOVE: See, what I tell you? Traffic. My name's Lynnee Breedlove. I run Homobiles, a community ride service for the LGBTIQQLMNOPQRST community and its allies in San Francisco. You not have to be big fat queer to get a ride from Homobiles, but it does help. No, I'm just kidding. But you need to understand that the real reason that we are here is for people that don't get rides normally from anyone else. And so if you're putting on all this padding, high heels, a wig and three sets of false eyelashes and a bunch of glitter, you are high priority at Homobiles.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WILL SURVIVE")
GLORIA GAYNOR: (Singing) At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side. But then I spent so many nights thinking...
GODIVA CHOCOLATIER: My name is GoDiva Chocolatier. We're at The Stud in San Francisco. And right now you're seeing me in my night drag. I'm wearing gold lame pants and a platinum wig and lots of fabulous makeup. At nighttime when I go out and this is how I look, you know, fabulous and avant-garde, not a cab will take me.
BECCA SHERDSER: Are you grant? How are you? Where are you headed to?
GRANT: Wisconsin and 25th.
SHERDSER: My name is Becca Shirdser (ph). We're driving in my Toyota Tacoma truck, which also doubles as a Homobile. Because of drag queens, sex workers, trans folks, queers not being picked up, given a hard time, harassed it was really important for us to get our folks around safely.
BREEDLOVE: I had a band called Tribe 8. And I had a bike messenger company called Lickety-Split All Girl Courier in the '90s. And then it was a moving van called Van Dyke Hauling. One day I was driving a friend of mine around who's a lady of the night and a trans person. I was dropping her off at some hotel. And I was like, don't you want me to wait? Don' you want to text me in case something weird happens? I'll be the tough guy. So then me and a friend of mine were brainstorming about what I could do. And he's like, well, you got your car right? Why don't you be that tough guy for the exotic dancers in the what have yous? And then you could call it Homobiles. Get it?
Then one day I was invited to the Femme Conference in Oakland. And I showed up and they were like a butch with a car. And so I was like, oh, I'll be right back. So I ran down to the nearest do-it-yourself car wash and came back, and I was blasting Le Tigre. And I was like...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M SO EXCITED")
LE TIGRE: I'm so excited.
BREEDLOVE: I'm so excited. It was blasting out of the car. And I was like hey babes, free rides. And that's how Homobiles happened.
SHERDSER: We have over 20 people that drive their cars. It's all by donation, all their drivers are volunteers. Because I have a truck, I get a lot of performers carrying equipment, Drag Queens and all their bags and their boys. And a lot of cabs and stuff won't take people with, you know, they don't like glitter in their cabs. They don't like all kinds of bicycles and whatever.
BOND: Now I'm not a big glitter person, but, you know, I wear sequins so I'm sure leave sequins in many places. My name's Justin Vivian Bond. I'm a transgenre artist. People get freaked out by glitter. and I don't blame the drivers because if you get a lot of glitter or makeup or body paint in your car, it's hard to get out. I guess that's one of the drawbacks of the carriage trade.
BREEDLOVE: Women who are, like, exotic dancers and stuff use us a lot because they don't like cab drivers knowing where they live. They get propositioned all right for their job. Now they're getting propositioned all the way home.
BOND: I think it is a safety issue, but it's also kind of a civil rights issue because when someone perceives you as presenting a gender that they don't want to accept, then they feel like they have the right to ask you any inappropriate question. And you always have to be on high alert.
BREEDLOVE: Its 1:57, which is the magic hour right now. And right now, the dispatcher is pulling his hair out because he's trying to get 500 queers home with seven Homobiles. Now that means there's lots of homo shuttling going on right now.
Homobiles international, Homobiles Bombay, Homobiles Bloomington, Homobiles Berlin. Wait a sec. Moes gettin' hoes where they needs to goes.
Dude, dude, I got the best of tag for you. I told you, you could be there in 10 minutes. Did I lie?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M SO EXCITED")
LE TIGRE: I'm so excited. I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control, and I think I like it.
SHAPIRO: That story about Homobiles was produced by The Kitchen Sisters and Julia DeWitt and mixed by Jim McKee. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro.
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