Jan 28, 2016

Why You Should Visit South Dakota Next August

In the summer of 1995, shortly after Lee and I moved to San Francisco, my parents decided to sell their house in Rock Island and spend their retirement years in their old hometown in Indiana.  That meant I had to clear out the books, papers, furniture, and miscellaneous mementos cluttering my old attic room.

Road trip!

I had never seen the Cowboy States, and Lee had never been out of Southern California (except for his visit to a kibbutz in Israel).   We planned every moment of that trip!  Portland, Seattle, Yellowstone National Park, Devil's Tower, Mount Rushmore!

As luck would have it, our itinerary took us through South Dakota on August 3rd, 1996.

Do you know what happens in South Dakota during the first week in August?  We didn't.  We do now.

1. All hotels within 150 miles double their rates, and fill up anyway.
2. All highways, streets, roadways, and dirt tracks swarm with motorcycles, because:
3. 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts converge in the tiny town of Sturgis for a week-long bacchanal.

4. There are thousands of topless and naked women, if you're into that sort of thing.
5. And about 100,000 hairy, husky, muscular, tattooed bears
6. Who parade around downtown naked.

7. Who parade around downtown naked.

8. Who parade around downtown naked.

9. Who parade around downtown naked.
10. Some of them are gay, and most of the others have a non-homophobic "laissez faire" attitude.

11. Did I mention that there are 100,000 hairy, husky, muscular, tattooed bears?

There have always been some gay bikers in the crowd, but since 2007 they have had an official presence. The Gay Community Center has a booth, there are gay men's biker events, and the Hawgs Dawgs, a gay/ bi/ straight biker group, makes an annual pilgrimage.

See also: The Top 16 Public Penises of the Cowboy States