Vancouver
3 min

Show your tits

A right-on dyke celebration

Credit: Xtra West files

We’re so excited about the upcoming Dyke March that we just can’t sleep! So we’ve used the insomnia-induced extra time to do a little research to help you prepare. First, a herstory lesson.



Our research has revealed that an Old Dutch Master painting of what some believed to be an early Dyke March was in fact a procession of nuns. All of the suffragette marches were considered dyke marches, but we don’t think it’s entirely accurate to begin a history there.



Some will argue that a march in Northampton, Massachusetts in the early 1980s was the first Dyke March. However, it must be noted that at the time, there were only three gay men living in the Happy Valley.



By default, this seems to leave New York City, self-proclaimed originator of Gay Liberation (okay, so you rioted after they busted your bar, but Mary, weren’t you the one who ran out the back door?) There was an unofficial dyke march in the Big Apple in the early 1980s. There’s always been friction between lesbians and gay men in New York (in-fighting is a sport in the Big Apple), and gender agitation had created a situation in which the organizers allowed the parade to be led by a huge contingent of lesbians. By secret accord, the lesbians all agreed to turn left at such-and-such a street, while the regular march was slated to turn right. Tens of thousands had to make an on-the-spot decision: follow the lesbians? Or do what it says on the parade permit? A period of harmony between gay men and lesbians ensued, and the march was one for a few years.



Then came Guerilla Grrls! Active in AIDS and sex-positive agitation, appearing anywhere that silly sexism reared its gnarly head (ahem), these gals were queer before there was a Nation. And they had a brilliant idea: let’s start a Dyke March! And so they did. The first year or two was kind of small, but by the 25th anniversary of Stonewall, enough women had heard of the march, which occurred the day before regular Pride, that they wanted to join in! All of those dykes from all over the world whooped and shrieked and took their shirts off and a few of their gay male, gender-fuck pals joined in. It was truly glorious! The cry went out, “Dyke Marches for All Dykes!”



For some reason, the idea of holding dyke marches everywhere didn’t really take off. Some big cities still have them, and from time to time in smaller cities, when the girls get pissed off with the boys, they will indeed organize a separate march from regular Gay Pride. There are now seven gay men living in Northampton, so the march has been gender integrated.



It is quite possible that the first Vancouver Dyke March took place some time in the 1980s as part of International Lesbian Week. Or was it the 1990s? Was it before the Joe’s boycott or after? No one was awake at 4 am when we asked ourselves these questions and as far as we know, old copies of Kinesis are not available online. We hope that those of you who remember will write letters in to Xtra West to set the record straight, so to speak! Such is the patchwork nature of lesbian herstory!



We aren’t sure (or particularly concerned) as to how and why the Vancouver Dyke March has arisen, but one thing is absolutely clear: dykes on bikes leading the Pride Parade is simply not enough for Vancouver’s lesbians. Who can blame us for proudly claiming our space? The Dyke March is, of course, going down Commercial Dr. Not that there aren’t faggots over there, and we’re sure they’ll enjoy the festivities. But be warned boys: you are going to see tits and lots of ’em. See why we can’t sleep at night?



Finally, fashion advice for the actual event:



• It isn’t really necessary to take off your shirt. If you’re considering it but unsure, why not wear a button-front shirt. Then you can kind of ease into it and see how half-naked feels first.



• Shoes are the biggest problem. You could be walking for quite a while, but that does not necessarily justify sneakers. Instead of developing an outfit only to discover you have no shoes, pick the shoes first, and build your outfit from there. Especially if you end up removing your clothes, you want to make sure you will look good in those shoes. And needless to say, boots are never wrong (as long as they’re comfortable).



• Hats seem to be a big hit at Dyke Marches. We can go either way. The demure softball cap will keep the sun off your face and enable you to pretend you really didn’t see your ex standing over there. On the other hand, big floppy clown-like hats are a less good idea. We want to make sure that the bystanders realize this is a Dyke March and not the Easter Parade come early.



• (Stop reading vegans) Leather provides excellent sunblock. Failing that, wear lots of sunscreen! What the fuck!