Toronto’s streets overflowed with women earlier today, June 30, when the 2012 Dyke March participants brought their anti-normative philosophy to Pride.
Organizers are quick to point out that the annual Dyke March is not a parade but rather a political demonstration of critical mass. This year’s demonstration, which included a two-minute die-in, snaked down Church, Bloor, Yonge and Carlton streets before culminating at Allan Gardens Park.
The pre-rally, held at the corner of Church and Hayden streets, was indeed political, with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Sue Goldstein, of Queers For Social Justice, featured as speakers.
“No matter what they tell us, that perhaps we’ve achieved equality, we know that that is not true,” Wong-Tam said to the crowd.
“In 1969, when the Stonewall riots took place, the birth of the modern gay and lesbian movement, who was at the forefront?” Wong-Tam asked. “It was dykes, trans, drag queens, marginalized people, people of colour, and it continues today. We do not exclude anyone. We don’t exclude anyone from Pride. We are a loving, inclusive community and we welcome everyone.”
Goldstein welcomed the word queer, saying it has been excluded from Pride’s vernacular for too long.
“That missing word,” Goldstein explained. “Because everybody says happy Pride, like Merry Christmas, but we know our roots.”
“We don’t want to be complicit. We want to stand up and we want to work together to get our rights back. The censorship of queers and queer issues is unjust no matter who does it, whether it’s within the community or in city hall.”
Goldstein pointed to last year’s developments in Tunisia, Tahrir Square and Wisconsin as grassroots political triumphs Toronto queers should look to for inspiration.
“I’m proud to march with this beautiful group of women. We’ve had a victorious year and we should celebrate,” Houston says. “But then on July 2, we dust off our glitter and we get back to fighting because we need full equality.”
When Houston addressed the crowd, she spoke of her part in the fight to have gay-straight alliances recognized in schools across the province, her distaste of Catholic bigotry and the need for transgender legislation at the federal level.
“We need it in every province in Canada,” Houston said. “I will march this year, I will march next year and I will continue to march until we have full equality. I will continue to be loud and in your face, and I’m not going to shut up.”
Other women were keen to speak up, too. Rachel Wilkes divulged that she came out only this year and was very excited to experience her first Pride.
“I just felt like it’s a good idea to come and to be involved in the community. I want to know about the issues and know what is going on around me. Everyone is in such a great mood,” Wilkes said.
Mother of five Ajike Akande said she brought her brood to the march so they would be exposed to powerful, unabashed women. “I want them to know that there’s a world out there of women who are active and fighting and progressive for their future.”