Topless dykes. A brigade of women drummers. No corporate sponsors. This year marks the 24th time the NYC Dyke March will demonstrate lesbian pride and visibility, without a permit from the city and without apologies. Talk about badass.
Each year, thousands of Dykes march down 5th Avenue to Washington Square Park on the Saturday before the NYC Pride Parade. Drummers up front rally the marchers out into the street and keep the rhythm going all the way down to the Village. Signs proclaim political and personal slogans like “I’ll be satisfied when every dyke can be out” and “Every Dyke is a Hero.” We’ve seen giant dyke puppets, a swimming pool complete with bathing beauties pulled along by strapping gals, SuperDyke in a rainbow cape, and of course: the fabulous marshals, those tireless and dedicated Dykes who lead the march and block traffic on either side of the street so all the marchers can safely stride down 5th Avenue.
AWT met up with two long-time Dyke March organizers, Rebecca Triglianos and Aleks T., at the Annual Dyke March Raffle and Fundraiser at Stonewall Inn to discuss this year’s march, why we need safe spaces for Dykes, and the difference between a protest and a parade.
This year, the Dyke March is donating all of their fundraising proceeds to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.
AWT: Why is it important that the Dyke March be a separate event from the NYC Pride Parade?
Rebecca Triglianos: The NYC Dyke March is a protest march, not a parade. We do not have a permit or corporate sponsors. We recognize that we must organize among ourselves to fight for our rights, safety, and visibility. We gather by the thousands to highlight the presence of Dykes within our community, to celebrate our beautiful and diverse dyke lives, and in protest of ongoing discrimination. All self-identified Dykes, whatever that means to you, are invited to march. We have wonderful supporters that cheer us on along the way and party with us all night long.
Aleks T: We stand against the mainstreaming of the NYC Pride Parade, whose list of sponsors include TD Bank, HSBC, Wells Fargo, Citi, CapitalOne, Deutsche Bank, the same organizations that have marginalized our communities and control our money and power. We stand against the cis-male whitewashing of the NYC Pride Parade to show diversity within the gay movement, to help the public recognize how many of us are out there, and how differently laws affect us at the intersections of female, queer, POC, abilities, etc. Our struggle for rights is not done. Until we are all equal, we will continue to protest.
AWT: Is this the first year that the proceeds from the Stonewall Raffle have gone to something other than the march itself?
RT: Yes. Our committee wants to stand with Orlando and offer our support in all the ways that we can. Pride month is a commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion and our community’s fight against violence, hatred, and injustice. From Stonewall to Pulse, we are continuing that fight.
AT: We want to serve as an example for other organizations of what is important in times like these. For us, it’s showing our support for our community in Florida, standing strong as one family, and serving our community in times of crisis and need.
AWT: Why is it so important to have spaces for dykes?
RT: I think it’s important to have space to be together, to see each other, and to work in community toward common and uncommon goals. There are a lot of different ways to be a dyke and all the more reason we need a space to be visible to one another and to the world. Gathering in NYC, holding hands and blocking traffic, marching down 5th Avenue is so powerful. We say boldly that we exist, we deserve to be safe, we demand our rights, we are indestructible.
AWT: Last year Pride was such a joyful event because the Supreme Court had just upheld the right of same-sex marriage. Can you talk about the contrast between that celebratory feeling and this year’s Pride following the horrific massacre in Orlando?
AT: It feels like one step forward, one step back.
RT: The horror of the Orlando massacre is heartbreaking and infuriating. Our souls are going to be a little more tender this year, but they will still be mighty. I think the 2016 Dyke March will feel alive and powerful. When we join together we can do anything. When our community is attacked, we fight back, we stand strong, we march forward and we never stop dancing.
The NYC Dyke March will be held on Saturday, June 25, stepping off 42nd Street onto 5th Avenue at 5:00PM sharp. For more info visit dykemarchnyc.org
Donations will be collected during the March and in Washington Square Park at the conclusion of the March. (If you’re lucky, you can buy a sweet Dyke March t-shirt!) Support the families of those lost and the survivors of the Orlando massacre here.
The NYC Dyke March host fundraisers each year during Pride, including the official NYC Dyke March Afterparty:
The NYC Official Dyke March Afterparty & Benefit: BAD HABIT PRIDE
Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 10:00 PM
LOT 45 BUSHWICK
411 Troutman Street (Brooklyn)
$15 Entry All Night
Check their website and Facebook page for more events.
All photos by Cara Howe from the 2012 NYC Dyke March.