This past weekend during PRIDE, I joined some of my great friends participating in the NYC Dyke March. The Dyke March is a protest march not to be confused with a parade, as organizers don’t ask for a permit. It's simply a street takeover from Bryant Park all the way down 5th Avenue to Washington Square Park in celebration of LBTQ women (lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning.) Marchers join together to stand up against discrimination, harassment, and anti-LBTQ violence in schools, on the job, within families, and on the streets. Many see the annual march as a critical fight for rights, safety, and visibility. (Visit www.dykemarchnyc.org to learn more.)
I asked my new friend Libby, who had done the march in previous years, for some background on the event and what participation meant to her. "I participate because it's a protest against the image of rich white gay men as the pioneers of gay rights and equality. There are much larger issues besides marriage equality that need to be dealt with. Our trans folks, gender non-conforming folks, LGBTQ people of color and immigrants, and others, are marginalized not only by hetero-normative society but also by a community they supposedly belong to. To me, Dyke March encompasses and recognizes these issues, while the institution of the PRIDE Parade ignores them. Dyke March is about facing the issue of invisibility and giving voice and representation to all of us who have been dismissed."
The mood of the whole march was open, positive, and confident. Rich with smiles and interlocked hands, the sea of people was topped with the perfect amount of icing - A LOT of emblematic rainbow flags and handwritten messages of strength, love, and intellect that waved in the breeze on this exceptional summer day in New York City. "It felt really collaborative and chill - just a community of people who can feel at peace around each other," my friend Anca reflected. The sense of community and camaraderie really was tangible. Her partner Kayla explained, "There's something enthralling about looking to your left and seeing a 70-year-old lesbian with a cane and looking to your right and seeing two teenage girls holding hands - a sort of Stonewall-era legacy literally walking next to young women who will live in an era of marriage equality."
It's only further proof of how truly amazing the potential of a collective is.