Upbeat marching-band music, laughter and chants filled Commercial Dr Aug 4 as more than 1,000 people marched from McSpadden Park to Grandview Park for the ninth annual Vancouver Dyke March.
The event, which attracted both Lower Mainland residents and tourists from around the world, featured colourful banners, costumes and families.
“I’ve never been to the Dyke March before, and I’m excited to see what it all is,” says Connie Henderson, 30, who came out with her two-year-old daughter, Mackenzie.
Vancouver Pride Society president Tim Richards and vice-president Chrissy Taylor were among the many marchers who said they were most eagerly anticipating the beer garden at Grandview Park.
This year’s march, featuring its inaugural beer garden, vendors, more musical acts and a return to the renovated Grandview Park, was revamped from last year after organizers gathered suggestions from the community about how it could be improved.
“Ultimately, what we tried to do this year was respond to feedback from the community,” says Vancouver Dyke March president Theresa Wilson.
Organizers also asked if the march should stay in East Vancouver. “So far, unanimously, the community has said that they want it to stay in East Van,” Wilson says. “So definitely, if people have feedback on the issue please let us know. It’s something we are looking at.”
Marie Little, chair of the Trans Alliance Society, says the Dyke March, home to self-identified dykes, trans and genderqueer community members, is a significant event for her as a trans lesbian.
“The Vancouver Pride Society march does seem to overemphasize the male gay community,” she says. “So it leaves lesbians and especially trans people and even more especially trans lesbians out in the cold.”
Many non-BC residents attended the march, including 26-year-old New Yorker Hannah Temple, who says she was struck by the noticeably smaller police presence here. “In New York this would have metal bars along the whole thing, and I was asking myself, ‘Why is this so lovely?'” she says.
“It’s great to come from another place and feel so excited and at home.”
Also marching were David and Keren Weaver and their daughter Grace, who were visiting Vancouver from Lubbock, Texas.
“My daughter is gay, so we thought we would come march with her,” David says.
“We’re from a small town, so we don’t see many Pride events, so I think just the company and the experience of seeing so many gay people in one place at one time . . .” Grace adds.
At Grandview, passersby and marchers enjoyed live music, browsed through various vendor stalls selling locally made merchandise, sipped cold beers in the beer garden, and learned more about community groups such as Qmunity, Pride UBC, Sisters in Sync dragon boat club, and Lesbrarians, among many others.
In the beer garden, Tanis Brookes had brought her own lawn chair to enjoy a beer. “It’s pretty good, it’s gayer,” she says of G’Ale, the “gay ale” specially produced by a local brewery for this year’s Pride events, for sale in the beer garden.
Asked what the Dyke March committee is planning for the next year’s 10th anniversary, Wilson says many things are in the works. “You have to wait on that one, but we are definitely thinking hard on how to celebrate,” she says.