‘Guardian angel’: Dykes on Bikes co-founder Nora Savona dies

Nora Savona, co-founder of Dykes on Bikes, has died in Nimbin
Images: courtesy of Bobby Goldsmith Foundation

Dykes on Bikes co-founder and community protector Nora Savona has died, and friends are remembering her as the driving force behind the tradition of lesbian motorcyclists leading the Mardi Gras Parade.

The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation confirmed Theodora Eleanora “Nora” Savona passed away in Nimbin. Nora died in May after an extended battle with cancer.

In the late 1980s, Nora was instrumental in founding the Vixens Motorcycle Club, also known as the Dykes on Bikes. The club was based in a warehouse in Sydney.

Nora later worked closely with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and police to establish the tradition of Dykes on Bikes’ leading the parade.

For decades, the annual parade has begun with the loud revving of lesbian motorcycles.

Johnny Dawson, the Foundation’s Northern Rivers case manager, was a longtime friend.

Johnny is remembering Nora as a generous, passionate and humble community figure. Nora was a courageous protector of gay men in an era of homophobic violence.

Nora and the Dykes on Bikes would patrol the streets around Kings Cross and Oxford Street, communicating by radio, in the early 1990s.

“She would patrol the inner city looking out for gay men who were the subject of horrific violence, much of it due to the AIDS crisis,” Johnny explained.

“She would make sure they got home safely.”

Vale ‘guardian angel’ of Mardi Gras

In 1991, the Dykes on Bikes led the Mardi Gras for the first time as “guardian angels” of the parade marchers.

“During the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, Nora was idiosyncratic, fearless and a true defender of what is right,” Johnny Dawson said.

“She was a hero in our community. Nora really did help to change the world.”

Nora eventually left Sydney and relocated to the Northern Rivers. More recently, she lived in Nimbin where she passed away in May.

“She will be greatly missed by everyone who met her. We extend our thoughts and condolences to Nora’s family and loved ones,” the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation wrote.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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  1. Peter Turner
    14 July 2023

    RIP Nora!
    You will be sadly missed.

  2. Sue Thompson
    6 September 2023

    Such a wonderful woman who gave so much to the world and accomplished great things. Onwards and upwards.

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