Pardon our tardyness! We’ve been busy checking the accuracy of our town hall notes for errors and omissions and now, with our best intentions, we bring you a recap and full transcription.
On June fourth we held our second town hall. By all accounts it was a productive, friendly discussion about how to better the march, the spaces we inhabit, our community, and our activism. We are so very grateful to all our attendees!
Some topics of note that were addressed during the Town Hall:
- What is an Ally?
- What is a Dyke?
- *New initiative*: Ally support in helping to keep the march safe.
- *New initiative* : Active Listener Volunteers
We want to emphasize that we do not police who can march; queer and dyke are self-selecting identities. While we are trans-positive and will broke no cissexism, we feel it is the community’s responsibility to decide what spaces best represent them. This is a dyke-centered space. It is up to you to do the work to decide if this can or should be your space.
In the interest of transparency and our continuing commitment to accountability to our communities here follow our minutes from the events.
**While we, the Dyke March Team, did our best to accurately record our Town Hall Meeting, we recognize that we are only human and may have not adequately recorded everything that was said. In addition, everything that was said had been paraphrased for the sake of clarity. If, while reading over this, your feel that something is unclear, distorted, or did not adequately capture the dialogue, we would value your feedback and would welcome it if you would let us know either via email or Facebook and we will make necessary changes**
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
7:20 p.m. Welcome!
Question: Will there be ASL at Libido?
Answer: Request was put in on May 10. We are waiting for confirmation, and expect there to be ASL. **Update: The interpreters arranged by Pride are no longer available. We have one interpreter and are looking to secure a second for the evening. Know anyone? Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Introduction to Dyke March Team Members: Rain, Meg, Laura, Dallas, Andi, Dil-Lena, Joanne, Kaitlin and Aanya.
Dykes on Bikes
– We are the Amazons, Dykes on Bikes is a trademark.
Dykes with Tykes
Dykes on Bicycles
– Bike Pirates
– Craft Night June 22 8:00 p.m.
– flags and things for our bikes – blinging them out for the theme Tank Girl/Mad Max/Dykes to Watch Out For
– Olivia Chow has been invited to ride with us as an ally
– want to talk about allies representation in March tonight – can’t exist without allies
– helping with Trans March
– speakers will be leading contingent on leopard print tandem bicycle
Question: Do you do this every year?
Response: We’ve never done this before!
Question: Are allies allowed in the March?
Dyke March (DM) Response: We’re not going to tell you if you’re allowed to march, that’s up to you.
We have taken feedback into account and generated objectives to give concrete ideas of what we’d like to accomplish and revised our mission statement.
1) To organize a March that is celebratory, political, and inclusive.
2) To build relationships with various, diverse communities within our dyke communities that are often overlooked and marginalized, even by our own organizing
3) To create strategies and tools that help community members support each other and take accountability, instead of relying on institutional ‘support’ and ‘intervention’
4) To maintain our own, critical, Dyke voice within Pride Toronto
What we’ve done to work toward these objectives:
We are deliberate in the way we create space and the types of spaces we create, and hopefully this carries over into March. For example, we’ve sought trainings for the team, more community forums, shifted the dialogue from who can march to how can we create space together, and instead of mass emailing, we’ve been trying to make connections by building relationships with organizations and communities.
We are organizing our volunteers differently. We’re aiming to have the Pride volunteers trained better in terms of queer competency. We will have active listeners present at March so there is support for people. We are doing the training for active listeners and lead marshals ourselves. We’re also equipping marshals with megaphones so it feels more like a March and a protest.
We’ve been working on a committee of dykes and dyke allies who are interested in preventing or intervening with harassment. At the last Town Hall, we heard harassment is a problem and we wanted to find a way to address it that is community-based and doesn’t depend on police intervention or other hierarchies. So we’re looking for volunteers who are interested in training or being trained on bystander intervention, peer education, and being a good ally.
Question: Be a good ally to whom? The dyke community?
DM Response: Yes.
One tactic we have in the works is a “How to Be a Good Ally” pamphlet. This could be distributed in advance of the March as well as at the March and Rally. It would be a really good tool and a non-confrontational way to get our point across. We created a survey to get your feedback on what being a good ally means to you. It’s online and we have paper copies at the back if you want to fill it out. We need your feedback to make sure it’s useful and relevant to your experiences so please fill out the survey!
Question: Where online is the survey?
DM Response: On our blog. http://www.dykemarchtoronto.com
*Guidelines for Discussion*
1) Concerns and critiques are welcome but direct them at systems and events, not people.
2) This is a dyke-centred space, so be mindful of how you/your voice fit into that.
3) Bring it back to the Dyke March. Tell your stories and go on your tangents, but please bring it back to the Dyke March since we have limited time.
4) Please ask questions if you need clarification or further explanation. A discussion can only work if we are all following. You are also welcome to speak with team members afterward and to email the team anytime. We have paper for suggestions at the back, too.
5) Please speak one at a time and at a moderate pace so that the ASL interpreters can capture what you’re saying.
6) Take care of yourself in this space.
Comment: I want to take a second to recognize we are on First Nations land.
DM Response: We have had discussions around making those kinds of acknowledgments – trying to do it in a non-appropriative, lip-service way. Looking to build relationships with those communities. Thank you for the acknowledgement.
DM Question Prompt: What do you need for a space to be accessible to you?
Response: If I’m speaking about access in terms of my own needs, obviously it would be having interpreters.
DM Response: We are waiting on confirmation for Libido and the Rally.
Question: Last year, the problem with safety, what happened?
DM Response: Issues with cameras or “gawkers” so-to-speak who might not have been there for the right reasons. Not there to be a good ally, there to take a look at who was participating. We want to avoid police intervention and have the community look out for itself.
Comment: Amazons accept anyone who wants to ride with us.
Question: Bi Women’s Coming Out group at The 519, are they participating? (Bisexual Women of Toronto – BiWoT)
DM Response: They are welcome to register and join. Registration not mandatory unless it includes a vehicle, but it is helpful for us in terms of organization.
Question: How would we know where we are in the march?
DM Response: There will be an info booth.
Question: How will the committee keep the pace of the March?
DM Response: Marshals set the pace. Marshals who are paying attention or haven’t been trained properly let gaps form. We are facilitating training for lead marshals and training with Pride so the March looks awesome.
Comment: Motorcycles cannot go at a walking pace. Amazons go a few blocks and stop.
Comment: Marshals could take photos of the creepy guys taking photos to shame them.
DM Response: That would be a wonderful way for allies to be involved while keeping the March a dyke-centered space. Marshals are occupied with closing gaps and chanting.
Comment: We will put out call out on listserv to volunteers. We’ve taken anti-oppression training and are marshaling for the Trans March so I think people would be more than happy to take on the photographers!
Question: How do you tell a difference between a tourist taking photos and someone being creepy?
Comment: Last year, you couldn’t not notice them.
DM Comment: We will have a conversation around what that means – how can you tell the difference?
Especially considering many people go topless, there is an issue of consent in taking photos.
Comment: It’s misogyny. It’s something men do against women that are dykes.
Comment: Huge thanks to this group. Felt support of you and solidarity and can’t thank you enough. As far as allies go, we couldn’t do it without you so you are all welcome in the Trans March and spread that invite far and wide.
DM Question Prompt: Any questions on Libido?
Question: What events are happening?
DM Response: Libido is our annual fundraiser. Theme is Coruscate. Funds go to Dyke March and Groundswell, Community Justice Trust Fund. More information on social media. Thursday, June 20th at the Gladstone Hotel. Doors at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Need volunteers to help run it as well and people to come out and support it.
DM Question Prompt: Usually every year we create our own banner, but haven’t gotten to it yet. Would love to welcome some ideas.
Comment: I could ask the Camp SIS banner designer?
Comment: Openings of meeting. Having a song or something to recognize the land. The March should be led by 2Spirit Dykes.
DM Comment: We would love that, if they would be comfortable.
Comment: I will ask them.
DM Question Prompt: Any chants you want us to include, please send them to us. We want you to tell us we would like. Very much looking for your feedback!
DM Question Prompt: Want to hear your Dyke March stories, favourite moments, or what you’re looking forward to most.
Question: What exactly is the structure of the March? Is it by groups, is it anyone can be in it?
DM Response: If you’re with a group and they have a vehicle you must register for safety. If you’re with a group and you want to show up on the day, that’s fine. If you want to help us out, you can register and we will put you in a line up – a loose term. The energy is a like glittery chaos -we keep people in a line for safety reasons. This year the zones will be marked by colours, rather than numbers. The info and check-in starts at 12 p.m. The line up starts at 1 p.m. The March will start promptly at 2 p.m. Starts at Church and Bloor, west along Bloor, left down Yonge to Carlton, left on Carlton to Allan Gardens.
Question: Can you elaborate a little on the rally?
DM Response: Takes place in Allan Gardens. Welcomed by performers and some speakers and sit on the grass in the shade. People can skip the march and go to the rally if they want.
Question: Will there be a band?
DM Response: It will be a celebratory space. Keeping specific under wraps for now. Follow our social media for updates!
Question: Will there be washrooms?
Pride Toronto Response: There won’t be any in Allan Gardens. Some located at Church and Mutual and a few other sites that are close to Allan Gardens.
Question: Why not?
Pride Response: We can take the feedback. I will take that comment back to Pride.
Comment: A lot of people are older, can’t walk that far, and not safe because of creepers, etc.
Comment: Event on June 29 – coincides with end of Dyke March. Art-making, food and tokens available. Cool project. http://www.neighbourhoodartsnetwork.org/news/pride-toronto-community-mural-project
DM Question Prompt: Any anecdotes to share?
Comment: One of the nicest things was these girls making sundaes with queer names. Nice to have food there after a big, high-energy March.
DM Response: We welcome it, but we can’t provide food – health and safety concerns, hampers accessibility. If people do it on their own, great.
Question: How do you see Dyke March events for 2014? Is it growing in events? It seems like it’s blossoming.
DM Response: That’s something that we’re going to have to revisit for 2014. We don’t know what next year is going to look like. WorldPride was incepted by InterPride – organization of Pride-related organizations around the world. Licensed event that happens every 4 years. We’re expecting quite a few – thousands and thousands of individuals coming to the city. We’re going to be hosting a Dyke March for the world, not just for Toronto. How we want this to look? We need a lot of feedback.
Question: Who does the dyke community represent? It creates a little uncertainty for me. Is the Dyke March representative for lesbians? As a dyke march, what do you represent as the Dyke March? Asking in terms of my exposure and what I can suggest. Other prides have events separated based on who you represent.
DM Response: Last year, it was about opening up what “dyke” means. To many people, it means “oh you’re a lesbian”. But it’s much more complex and messy than that. In terms of other events, one of the objectives we read earlier was to present a strong, dyke voice at Pride Toronto. Advocacy is always part of it. We act as a go-between for our communities and Pride Toronto. The Dyke march can’t just be a one-off event. Has to be the culmination of a year-long conversation. We have a longer running start next year because many team members are staying on. One of our challenges this year was a late start, so now we are pressed for time.
DM Comment: One thing we’ve been talking about is hosting a weekly or biweekly discussion group. Our challenge is finding space for that.
Comment: Not enough dyke programming the Pride festival. Even if you go on Church Street, there’s only Slacks. I just wanted there to be more events and I didn’t know if I could say that to the Dyke March committee because I didn’t know if you were responsible for it.
DM Response: We like connecting with community organizers a lot. Sometimes parties are hosted in inaccessible spaces and we feel we can’t promote them. We want to connect with folks that embody what we represent as a Dyke March team (this includes a commitment to accessibility).
Question: What does accessible mean? Accessible, how?
DM Comment: Accessible, affordable, productive, inclusive – strong dyke space. Some challenges are a lack of monies; lack of people power, and we need assistance from the community to create these spaces because we can’t do it ourselves as much as we would like to.
Question: Who do we contact about getting involved throughout the year?
DM Response: The Dyke March, through email, Facebook, or Twitter.
Question: Where does the Dyke March get a lot of the funding from?
DM Response: Pride Toronto and our fundraiser, Libido.
DM Comment: We need as much help from you as you are willing to offer and invest.
DM Comment: We have the power to do it, just need dedicated individuals.
Pride Comment: I could just add – Pride Toronto doesn’t organize everything in the community. We have an affiliated events program. For events that want to be in the Pride network, there is the opportunity there.
Comment: I know it’s a little off topic, but York Region Pride happens a week before. Our first parade ever is the week before Toronto’s Pride – please come and support! June 22. Richmond Hill.
Pride Comment: The Dyke March is a hub of community so share things on their fb page!
DM Comment: We also do a weekly events post of what’s happening in Toronto on our blog. We’re always looking for events to post. Thinking of World Pride, we often forget what a dynamic community we have. Often we have the privilege to choose between 3 or 4 events a night.
DM Comment: It’s about making the space for yourself – tell us what you want to see. Hope that’s something you all feel like you can do.
Comment: What I see in this community – and this is a general comment – I wonder if sometimes one of the problems in generating more interest is that at some events there have been some feedback shared with me that at some events out there in the queer community some oppression has been experienced. From organizers to attendees. I would also add that the community has accountability in that as well.
DM Response: If there is a specific event where you do experience something oppressive – not that we don’t experience oppression all the time – please let us know so we can keep it in mind when we promote events.
DM Comment: A lot of what we’ve been talking about as a team is how we can create accountability in these spaces so that everyone is a leader.
Question: Once we get to Allan Gardens are you going to wait for everyone before the programming starts?
DM Response: Something will start as everyone filters in, but the speakers won’t begin until everyone is there.
Question: Have you thought ahead to next year, to World Pride?
Question: How will we make ourselves stand out so it’s not just chicks marching? How are we going to make ourselves fabulous? Colours and themes – things that will make us stand out that will make the crowd say “Wow!”
DM Response: Dress however you want – do whatever you want. More of an individual thing; we don’t want to dictate what dyke or queer means or should be as expressed as for the community. Be as fabulous or unadorned as you want.
DM Comment: If you want the Dyke March to be more glittery, please join the committee!
DM Comment: We’re going to be doing chants this year, and lead marshals with megaphones. And a sign-making session before the March.
Question: Any policy regarding minors or children in the March? The only negative experience I’ve had were people reacting negatively to the children present.
DM Response: Children are absolutely welcome. In creatin a dyke-centered space sometimes having children, friends or partners present makes it possible for folks to march and makes it a better experience for them.
DM Comment: Different avenues for support – marshals, active listeners, committee members. Please bring negative feedback to us!
Question: I was looking at the line up for the Dyke March. Confirm line up starts at 1 p.m. March at 2 p.m.
DM Response: Yes.
Twitter Comment: Concerned about cis-privilege. Unless we say “cis- and trans- women” we invite cissexim. Need to be explicit about terminology.
Comment: The terminology “cis and trans women” does not necessarily include everyone who identifies as dykes.
Question from Pride: Can you explain the responsibilities and roles of active listeners, and who is doing the training?
DM Response: Part of feedback at last Town Hall, people were having issues and didn’t feel that they were being heard or addressed. We can’t fully control what happens at the march. As a way to mitigate that, we decided to have active listeners along the march route and at rally so you can just talk about if you need to. The trainers have yet to be confirmed, but they are qualified to give trainings, and active listener volunteers need to already have peer support/counseling, and/or active listener training.
Comment: Appreciation for the Dyke March volunteers!
Comment: I feel very welcome here. The challenge is going to be – not all groups are as inclusive and welcoming as this one. People use inclusive language, some people use “women by birth.” Include something about cissexism in organizing and language.
Comment: Amazons went to Elliott Lake to take part in the first ever Pride celebration. We are lucky in Toronto.
DM Comment: One of the things we’re hoping to do for World Pride is connect with other Dyke Marches and be very clear about our trans inclusive policies – not always the case with other Dyke Marches, nor historically.
9 p.m. Closing remarks. Thank you for coming! Stay and have snacks!