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Calgary to get its first dyke march this year

March is intended to be a political, non-commercial event, says organizer

Participants in the 2009 Calgary Pride parade. Credit: Robin Kuniski photo

Calgary will see its first dyke march during Pride week this year — and it’s about time, says Calgary queer activist Brianne Langille, who is heading up the organizing committee.

For the past few years, cities like Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto have held dyke marches to publicly celebrate the strength and diversity of queer women and the trans community. Langille attended her first dyke march in Vancouver two years ago and left feeling empowered.

“I think Calgary’s ready for it,” she says.

The Calgary Pride parade had its largest turnout ever last year, when thousands of people came out to celebrate.

Still, Langille says that queer female visibility is underrepresented in Calgary and that the Pride parade is male-dominated.

“I think that we get forgotten a lot,” she says. “I think that when there’s publicity about gay rights and gay power, it has more to do with men than it does with women.”

Lesbians also have two strikes against them — being women and being queer — in a city where heterosexual men occupy most positions of power, says Langille.

The purpose of the march is to say: “We are out here, there’s a lot of us here, and we still want our basic human rights and respect,” she says.

At the Calgary Dyke March Society’s first organizing meeting a few weeks ago, the topic of inclusion came up — should those who don’t identify as lesbians be invited to participate? What about transgender women?

After the meeting, Langille started a discussion on the Calgary Dyke March Facebook group about the issue. So far, most people agree the street march should be open to anyone who “loves dykes or supports them,” says Langille.

But since the meeting, a few people have sent private messages to Langille saying the march should be exclusively for lesbians.

“It’s one of those things where everybody’s got their own opinion about what the Dyke March means to them,” she says, adding that it would be “fantastic” if straight family members of lesbians attend to show their support. “I don’t want to exclude anyone.”

Dyke marches in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa are inclusive, meaning they invite a diversity of people, including men and transgender women, to participate.

Some have questioned why there’s a need for a dyke march when Calgary already has a parade.

Langille says she attends the Pride parade every year and plans on doing so again this year, but that it’s more of a party and a little less political in nature than a dyke march. One of the biggest differences, says Langille, is that the Calgary Dyke March is intended to be a non-commercial event and won’t accept corporate sponsorship.

“It’s not a parade,” she says. “It’s not for people to be on the sidelines watching; it’s about people getting involved. It’s about getting friends and family and allies and everybody marching together to raise our visibility and to basically show that we’re together in this.”

Langille is in the midst of forming an organizing committee and recently put out a call for volunteers dedicated to queer activism. She says she welcomes people from diverse backgrounds to help organize what she hopes to be an annual event.

Calgary Dyke March
Saturday, Sept 4
Route to be confirmed
For more info, join the Facebook group

If you’re interested in being on the Calgary Dyke March Committee, please send a letter of intent to calgarydykemarch@telus.net outlining any skills and connections you may offer the committee.