Antonia 'Tata' Flores passed away Feb. 17 after battling breast cancer since 2002. She was 50.
Flores was born on Jan. 9, 1958. The fourth child of six, she was raised in Chicago's Wicker Park. Eventually, she was employed by the Chicago Transit Authority as a bus driver for 20 years before retiring due to her illness.
Flores battled the cancer with the support of her life partner of 20 years, Blanca 'Ma' Oritz. Flores was also a mother to Yolanda, Lisa, Carlos and Xavier.
The gay community has endured a great loss, where 'Tata' and her partner were known as Ma and Pa. Flores participated in the establishment of several bars such as Condo Club in 1997 and Faces in 1999, and she was always there to greet patrons at the door. 'Tata' was loved by everyone; those who did not know her by name knew her as the lesbian who recruited other lesbians every June ( since 1997 ) to represent the Dykes on Bikes, which originated with only four riders and grew to 25-30 riders. After the parade, she would invite the girls all to a club and provide the food or to her house for a cookout and pool party.
In June 2007, she was saddened to learn that, due to the chemotherapy, her body was too weak to take part in the parade. 'Tata' took three days before the parade and rested as much as possible. On the morning of June 24, 2007, she asked her brother Oscar to follow her to Boystown in her car while she rode his motorcycle. Thirty minutes before the parade began Tata arrived with a grin brighter than light. Everyone began to cry; it was a very emotional moment. She took the lead in the line-up and said, 'This will be my last parade.' All the riders wore pink bandanas and dedicated the ride to her.
'Tata' is gone but never forgotten. Her spirit will ride at every pride celebration. Tata's Dykes on Bikes will continue to ride in her memory.