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    HomeNewsQ&A - Katrina Vinson is Leading Pride Riders on this Year's WeHo...

    Q&A – Katrina Vinson is Leading Pride Riders on this Year’s WeHo Pride Parade and Dyke March

    In anticipation of Weho Pride 2024, WeHo resident Katrina Vinson sat with WEHO TIMES for an interview to discuss being the lead Biker and organizer of Pride Riders in this year’s WeHo Pride Parade on Sunday, June 2, 2024 and the Dyke March on Saturday, June 1, 2024.  

    Over the years, the Dyke March took place on Fridays. After much lobbying, the L Project (Producers of Women’s Freedom Festival) were able to get the event moved to Saturday-  greatly increasing participation. This year, the call is on to gain more attention, greater participation and a call for women who ride to join the parade. We spoke to Katrina about this year’s event, how she came to lead the contingency and the outreach to riders.

    Photo courtesy of Katrina Vinson

    Q:  Hello Katrina! Let’s hear about your journey to the City of Weho;  where are you from, what brought you to the city and how long have you resided in Weho? 

    I grew up in San Jose, CA.  About 15 years ago, while I was still living in San Jose, I had a long distance relationship with a woman living in Santa Monica. I would visit for about a week or more at a time and we would always go out to WeHo. I slowly started falling in love with the City. Years later, after we broke, I was offered a job in LA, and I moved to Palms, a short drive from WeHo. I quickly made friends and we enjoyed the WeHo nightlife weekly. After about 4 years in Palms, the opportunity opened up for me to move to WeHo and I never looked back. Once I moved here I began to learn and appreciate so much more about this City. I never loved a City that I’ve lived in as much as I love WeHo. I’ve been here for 8 years now.

    Q:  What started your activism in our city?

    I would have to say my former partner. I mostly supported her and attended events she was leading or participating in. She was unstoppable and the events and network grew immensely. Over time, she became heavily involved in the City, inspiring me and others along the way. Slowly over-time I got more involved. We all have different strengths in this life. Mine are far different from hers and I never considered myself an organizer or activist. I helped how I could with whatever strengths and resources I had. Over time, our whole network of friends became primarily activists and I showed up in whatever capacity I could. I must have picked up a few things along the way since more and more people are calling me an activist. I’ve always been diplomatic, and stuck up for what’s right, and cannot stand to see any injustice, racism, sexism, inequality, or bigotry. 

    Q:    You formerly served on the City’s Planning Commission but you resigned after 1 year. Can you talk about this experience?

    I had come to know Sepi Shyne quite well as well as volunteered in both her campaigns for City Council. She knew quite a bit about my education and experience in construction. I believe she trusted my moral compass and desire to do good. Once she was elected to City Council she asked me if I would serve on the Planning Commission as her appointee. I believe she thought I could bring something to the position given my construction experience. Unfortunately, I had some major life changes arise where my bandwidth changed and I knew I couldn’t give the Planning Commission the dedicated time that it deserved and needed. I do hope to serve again someday. 

    Photo courtesy of Katrina Vinson

    Q:   In your professional capacity – you hold some unique positions; both as a Commercial Construction Superintendent and as a Carpentry instructor @ LA Trade Tech College. Tell us about these roles, how you feel you’ve been able to trailblaze in these positions and what obstacles you’ve felt as a lesbian female in this field.

    Oh boy, how much time do you have? Becoming a Commercial Construction Superintendent wasn’t easy. I worked my butt off going to Carpentry school full time while also working full time. I was doing 13 hour days but I absolutely LOVED it. LA Trade Tech College lit me up. I couldn’t get enough, I couldn’t absorb enough.That passion that was ignited in me along with my mechanical aptitude, and my skills at building put me at the top of my class. I won several carpentry competition awards and ended up graduating first in my class with honors and scholarships.

    Given my love for the school and especially the Carpentry program, I made it known to the instructors, as well as the head of the department, that I hoped to come back and teach someday. After graduating, I was very saddened to no longer be involved with the program but I would have to work at least two years in the construction industry to even be eligible to be an instructor, not to mention that positions rarely ever opened up.

    After being heavily recruited, I ultimately decided to take a job with a General Contractor as an Assistant Superintendent. I was only able to enter the construction workforce at such a high level due to my many years experience as an operations manager coupled with excelling so quickly in the Carpentry and Construction technologies. I was promoted from Assistant Superintendent to Superintendent in just one year and I’ve never looked back. Recently I completed a 10 million, 30,000 sq ft project with high end finishes. 

    Luckily, after just over two years in the industry, I got a request from Trade Tech College to apply for an adjunct teaching position that was opening up. I wasn’t sure I could handle the load on top of my insanely demanding Superintendent Position but I knew I could not let the opportunity pass. Those positions almost never open up. I ended up getting the position and I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to make it work. There are plenty of female carpentry instructors at LATTC but I am the only queer carpentry instructor. I’ve had quite a few LGBTQ+ students in my class over the semesters and I think it’s important for them to see that representation.

    I haven’t met many obstacles as a lesbian but more obstacles as a female in general in construction. The number of women in construction is growing but more in the office roles. Women make up about 10-14% of the workforce in construction but only 4% working onsite in the field and even less in a position as high as mine. There are very few female Superintendents in all of Southern CA. It’s hard to know how many for sure but my educated guess is that it’s less than 5. For the first 4 years, I was the only woman on my jobsite each and every day.  I’m constantly running into architects, clients, designers, and construction managers that say to me, “I’ve never met a female Superintendent before!” Mostly in an excited tone. That gets me excited and lights me up. I usually think, “and wait until you see what I can do”. It’s important to me to put my best foot forward, produce the highest quality of work that I can, and try everyday to blow people away knowing that I am representing women in the field. I have two goals/hopes. 1) To prove to the industry that women are valuable assets to the industry and bring different sets of skills, creativity, and points of view. 2) To show and inspire other woman to join the construction industry. 

    Q:  You are the new lead of Pride Riders, the Motorcycle group which leads the Weho pride parade and the Dyke March. How exciting to see a new generation of riders!  How long have you been riding?  How did you come to lead this group for Pride?

    I’ve been riding for 24 years now. I got my motorcycle license as well as my first bike when I was just 18. Organizing the motorcycle group for the March and for WeHo Pride was unexpected. The leader of the motorcycles in previous years has been a mentor of mine. I have spent years at her side helping her lead pride parades and the Dyke March. In 2022, she came down with covid the day before the parade and needed someone to step in to lead and pace the parade. She called me and I gladly accepted. I was honored. The following year in 2023, due to unforeseen circumstances the opportunity to lead a new contingent of bikers for the Dyke March presented itself when the leader of the motorcycle contingent withdrew  from the event.

    Riders, who still wanted to ride, participate, and be seen; were left confused and didn’t know what to do or how to enter. They had less than a week’s notice and some riders had family flying to see them ride in the parade but were left stranded. I was torn. I needed to step up for the riders that were left stranded without an organizer. I worked with Jackie Steele to come up with the name Pride Riders so I could register us in the parade and I worked with The  L-Project to help organize riders for the Dyke March. If it wasn’t for The L-Project the Dyke March wouldn’t have happened and wouldn’t have been moved to a Saturday. Jackie helped organize the riders while I registered as the leader of Pride Riders. 

    We had a pretty decent turnout of riders given the extreme short notice. The L-Project helped us in procuring parking for all the riders so they could stay for the day and enjoy the Women’s Freedom Fest prior to riding in the Dyke March. They also organized an amazing entrance for the riders to ride in as the Festival was ending and rev up the crowd to transition into marching behind us in the Dyke March. It was quite awesome. Riders were happy, spectators were happy, and the Dyke March got more exposure.

    Q:   Do you remember your first Pride?  Where/when was it and how do you think that experience has shaped your development of Pride Riders/what you’re trying to create?

    Barely. I was a gaybe back then. My first Pride was in San Francisco since I lived in San Jose. I remember the Dyke March especially. There’s nothing like Dolores Park and the Dyke March in San Francisco. I was in awe. It was a sea of queer women as far as I could see in every direction. We marched for what felt like forever but I didn’t want it to end. The community cheering for us was overwhelming. It was incredible. Then the next day I saw the Dykes on Bikes lead the parade and I knew I wanted to be one of them one year (I already had a motorcycle). It just wasn’t a thing I knew about or how to get into. All those years I lived in San Jose and went to countless SF Pride Parades and Dyke Marches and I never ended up riding my motorcycle in a parade or march until I moved to LA. I would LOVE to see that type of turnout here in WeHo and a big obstacle to the turnout was not having it on the weekend. Now that the Dyke March is moved to Saturday we hope the participation can finally grow and we can bring the Dyke March the visibility it should have. 

    Dyke March 2023 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

    Q:  What are the goals for Pride Riders and the Dyke March?  What would you like to see from the city and the community,  as we prepare for this year’s Pride?  What are you most looking forward to?

    Last year was such a success, we saw more diversity and so many folks joining for the march. The city shared that this was the most heavily attended Dyke March in years. Our goals are an even greater turnout, greater visibility, and greater diversity. It’s so important to be seen and heard and to celebrate with our community and share our herstory. All are welcome to join in and ride. 

    I am most looking forward to this year’s Women’s Freedom Fest. Last year’s event was such a good program and line-up and just an overall good time! L-Project has an even better program in store for Pride this year. I’m really looking forward to that event as well as working with the L-Project to breathe new life into the Dyke March and bring it the exposure it deserves. 

    Q: What outreach are you doing for more participation, greater awareness?
    How can riders, or supporters, get involved? What actions from the community would enhance the Dyke March?

    We promote on social media and the City promotes the events under the Overall Pride weekend advertising. We’d love for everyone to help get the word out. I attend motorcycle events to spread the word and I’m hoping this article will also help. Motorcyclists tend to have many friends who also ride so I’m hoping it will spread by word of mouth as well. L-Project is also a huge help in marketing and spreading awareness. It’s been great working with the L-project to link Women’s Freedom Fest with the Dyke March. It just makes sense to link the two and bring with it more participation.
    (Note:  more info can be found here:  https://www.instagram.com/pride_riders_la/

    Riders can register here: [email protected]

    Q:  And finally – what hopes do you have for the future of West Hollywood? How do you see this city evolving?

    My hopes for the City are for there to be greater diversity and equity here. I like to see less people priced out from living here and more gender equality and diversity across our residents,  businesses, patrons, boards, commissions, and city council. 

    Thank you for engaging with us, congratulations on all your accomplishments and have a safe, successful Pride Ride.

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    Catherine Eng
    Catherine Eng
    Catherine Eng is a long time resident of the City of West Hollywood. She currently serves as a West Hollywood Business License Commissioner, was a journalism major, and is a supporter of Weho Times @thedamecat
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