Butches and lipsticks united to celebrate lesbian life and embody this year’s theme of “coming together” at the Capital Pride Dyke March Saturday, Aug 25.
The predominantly female faction of close to 200 assembled at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights before making their way to Dundonald Park for a picnic party featuring entertainment by the Capital Kings and local DJs.
Co-organizer Sarah Manns says the Dyke March is an event where women can be feted and feel included; something that is lacking in many Capital Pride events.
“I think we need to maintain a position of resistance. Capital Pride isn’t set out in a way where all dykes feel included, so I think it’s important for women and dykes to have a space that is inclusive to them,” she says. “We still live in a society that’s full of misogyny, so having a space for women and allies to come and gather is really important.”
Merissa Taylor-Meissner agrees with Manns’ assertion, saying she attended the Dyke March because it acts as an alternative Pride event.
“It’s really important for me to be at the Dyke March because it is more representative of some of the communities that are more marginalized,” Taylor-Meissner says.
The Hole-y Army added an extra infusion of estrogen and energy to the march. The Brooklyn, New York-based vagina puppet project was part of Dyke Marches in Toronto, New York City and Montreal earlier this summer. Led by Coral Short and Ariel Speedwagon, the army taught the crowd a choreographed moppet dance prior to the march.
The Hole-y Army is the largest participatory art piece ever to be included in a Dyke March, Short says, and the faux-vaginas act as a clear icon for proud lesbians.
“We need to be proud of who we are, be proud of our sexuality and all the diversity that makes up the dyke community. The community is changing, shifting and growing,” Short says. “All sorts of people identify all sorts of different ways within the community. We need to celebrate that diversity.”
Short invites all dykes to join the army next summer in San Francisco, where they plan on being part of a 50,000 strong dyke march.
Elaina Martin is one strong dyke who spoke prior to the march. Martin recounted a touching and triumphant story of the discrimination and physical assault she experienced in her native Sudbury.
This year marks Martin’s 25th year of being an out and proud lesbian, however when she came out at the age of 18, she was beaten by a group of men on a secluded beach. Martin went on to describe one night at a gay bar in Sudbury when a group of men stormed the queer haunt and assaulted the patrons while yelling homophobic slurs.
Martin recently returned to Sudbury with her transgender partner in tow. The two set up shop in a public space and invited the town’s residents to approach them and ask questions about being trans or queer.
“They opened their arms; I sat back in my chair and I watched these people. Things have changed,” Martin says. “It made me fall back in love with my hometown. I’ve come full circle so I know they can too.”
Martin went on to say, those gathered at the Dyke March celebrate more than simply being queer.
“We celebrate our healing,” Martin said through forming tears. “We celebrate our love and celebrate our unity. We do that by coming out, being visible and embracing our big beautiful queer selves.”
POWER chair Emily Symons and PTS vice-president Jessica Freedman also addressed the droves of dykes at the pre-rally.
Freedman, a prolific trans activist, opted to not carry a Hole-y Army puppet as a symbolic political gesture.
“I’m afraid as much as I’m attracted to the holes, and as much as much as my life has been moving as fast as possible towards what these represent… today I will have to decline to carry one of the holes for those people, my sisters, who don’t have what I have,” Freedman says.
This year the march was categorized as a legal demonstration. The event incurred no fees for policing or road closures as organizers decided to exclude the use of motorized vehicles and bicycles. Last year, organizers clashed with authorities over the $1,500 parade permit fee required for a police escort.
PTS, Venus Envy, Jer’s Vision and the ACO assisted in funding this year’s celebration of dyke diversity. Dyke March photos by Ben Welland.