Blog Post

Herstory of Dyke March

The thing about LGBTQ history is that it is rarely available beyond verbal traditions, film, art and literature (RIP Leslie Feinberg). We don’t learn about our dyke history in textbooks; rather we rely on our communities to tell the stories of those who fought, marched, died and are still fighting for the space we have today. This is where my heart sits when I think about the Dyke March.

Dyke March_featured“50,000 strong” – Photo courtesy of Dyke March SF

This year will mark 23 years of Dyke March in San Francisco, and I have been honored to organize with some of the dykes who have been here since the beginning. The very first Dyke March in the U.S. was on April 24, 1993 when the Lesbian Avengers, Queer Nation, and the National ACT UP Women’s Committee – joined by a group of San Francisco lesbians – called for a Dyke March on the eve of the NGLTF-sponsored march on Washington for lesbian and gay rights. These dykes had grown increasingly unsettled with their invisibility in society, and particularly with their invisibility combined with the misogyny in the LGBT community. It is estimated that more than 20,000 lesbians marched that night.

After that, Dyke organizers took the March to their home towns and cities across the country. The first San Francisco Dyke March happened in June 1993, with an estimated 10,000 dykes in attendance. Dyke March began as a call to action: to be visible and to advocate for dykes around the world on issues of oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty. It’s one day where we celebrate being dykes and come together to hold space. A fellow Dyke March committee member recalls the days when gay men lined the streets to keep this a woman/womyn only space. I imagine there were chants, banners, boobs and bliss – and we hope to continue that tradition now 23 years later.

Dyke March 2“March with us, do it.” – Photo courtesy of Dyke March SF

As women we have to fight everyday to live, work, learn and love in this patriarchy where we still make less than men, are treated unfairly because of our chemistry, and are too often over-sexualized and seen as commodities. If you’ve ever wondered why Dyke March happens once a year, now you know.  It’s a celebration of our unity, to raise consciousness and hold space. Dyke March happens because we NEED TO MARCH, we need to CLAIM SPACE, and we need to be VISIBLE. This year we will say goodbye to the Lexington Club (#longlivethelex), one of just two lesbian bars in the city of San Francisco; the future of Pink Saturday has been under fire; and politicians continue to take swings at everything LGBT. How much more will they take from us? If we don’t stand up, act up and speak out now, our community will be pushed out even further – we’ll be forced back into being invisible, overlooked. We have power in our numbers – last year’s estimates were 50,000 – and every year Dyke March gets bigger, louder, and harder to ignore.

Dyke March is just three months away. Come out and march with us! March loud, bring banners, whistles, sparkles, ribbon dancers. Bring it all! We march because we are not willing to sit back and let our bodies and minds be spoken for; we march because dyke spaces are disappearing rapidly; we march for all those who marched before us, and all those who will march after us. See you in June! #dykemarch2015

If you are interested in helping organize the Dyke March contact us: info@thedykemarch.org.