Sights and sounds of Dyke March | Bleader

Sights and sounds of Dyke March


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  • Aundre Larrow
Hundreds of self-proclaimed dykes along with transgender, queer, and bisexual people and their allies gathered in Margate Park this past Saturday for the 16th annual Chicago Dyke March. Created in 1998 as an alternative to more popular and widely endorsed Pride celebrations in Chicago, the march sought to create a safe space for those who don't usually attend such events: youth, undocumented people, and those who feel left out of Pride Parade's traditional image. Children with signs, dogs wrapped in rainbow scarves, scantily clad and hula-hooping women, and an Asian drum corps joined forces for an afternoon, flooding the streets of Uptown.

Dyke March and Pride Parade

Jacquelyn Carmen Guerrero, a safety marshal for the march (and also known by her stage name, Vajaqueque Brown), emphasized the march's commitment to inclusion.

"Dyke March vs. Pride, right? Two different things. The first time I went to Pride I was like, yes, this is so awesome, this is for me. And then the second time I went I started noticing that there were a lot of corporations, a lot of politicians, and it was all about money and people getting drunk. I kind of found myself backing away from that, and then I heard about Dyke March.

"[The march] is more of a celebration of dykes, bisexual, transgendered people, in a really intentional way. Dyke March celebrates all weights, all bodies, people of color, everybody that I think the traditional Pride Parade tends to neglect. As a queer person of color, it’s superimportant to me. This is my voice and my people."

See a slideshow and video after the jump.

Moving and engaging

For ten years, Dyke March was exclusive to Andersonville. Since 2008, the march has moved between different neighborhoods every two years, roving through Pilsen, South Shore, and now Uptown/Argyle. Though the first two moves sparked controversy, march organizer Juana Peralta sees Dyke March’s nomadic nature as one of its greatest assets.

"The idea is moving to bring visibility across the city. Pride [Parade] really highlights one particular subsection of what queer means, and staying in one neighborhood would really limit us in how we bring that visibility," Peralta said. "Each neighborhood has different obstacles for queer people living in those neighborhoods. We really wanted to be intentional about organizing in a predominantly Asian neighborhood . . . [We wanted to bring] visibility and a queer event to neighborhoods that have a large population of queer people already living there but don't have events like this happen in their neighborhood."

Peralta also hopes that Dyke March can continue to create mutually beneficial relationships with the city's neighborhoods.

"This year we worked a lot with i2i (from Invisible to Invincible), a queer Asian group. When we're thinking in longer terms of what neighborhoods we'd like to march in, obviously we want to route it to be as visible as possible, but we also want to make sure that we are in partnership with folks that are already organizing in those neighborhoods, and that we're supporting them as well as they're supporting us."

"We're here, we're queer, we're fabulous, don't fuck with us"

Friends Meade McCoy and Linnea Kennedy hoped the march would draw attention to the less visible community of Dyke March. "I think it's important to just show our presence. . . . I was in Dublin, Ireland, and they have Gay Pride, but no Dyke March. Never. And nothing along those lines at all," McCoy said.

After convening in the park, the marchers wound around a few blocks of Vietnamese restaurants and small grocery stores, passing the Aragon Ballroom before circling back to Margate Park. They picked up cheers, car horns, and the revving of motorcycle engines as they walked, and shop owners and customers came outside to watch as the marchers walked by. Some smiled and waved in solidarity while others simply observed the scene before them.

Dyke March 2012— Chicago Reader from Aundre on Vimeo.