The first lesbian pride march took place in Vancouver in 1981 (way to go, Canada!) in recognition of a lack of lesbian visibility. The first official Dyke March took place in 1993 in Washington. This march came out of the overtly political queer (rather than gay and lesbian) activism of the early 90s and was a nation-wide march organized by the Lesbian Avengers, a queer direct-action group focused on issues vital to lesbian survival and queer visibility. Twenty thousand queer women took to the streets, and now dyke marches are annual events that are part of Pride celebrations around the world.
Dyke March Mission Statement 2013
The 2013 Toronto Dyke March works to celebrate the diversity, visibility, and strengths of our dyke communities and to resist normative and oppressive systems. Our organizing framework is a radical, collaborative, community-driven, queer politics that emphasizes the power of our desires, stories, and collective knowledge. We work to organize events, including the Dyke March, that strive to dismantle the systems that marginalize and oppress our c communities so that we can create accountable and supportive spaces in Toronto for all lesbian, bi, and queer women, and all self-identified dykes, including Two-Spirit and gender-variant dykes, from across the spectrum and various backgrounds. We aim to organized a March that honours the history of Dyke Marches as political demonstrations, but also moves us forward through a dialogue that truly respects our differences and the complexity of our identities and experiences. We recognize that we need to build new systems of care, anti-capitalist economies, and transformative and empowering communities. This is difficult work that requires a lot of commitment, time and energy, accompanied by patience and laughter. Overall, we will be creative and disruptive, making politicized fun and glittery ruckus; we will be fierce; we will be SUPERQUEER!
Our Mission Statement is what drives our team forward. It is intentionally broad to inspire us to keep pushing forward in the work that we do. Excerpted from our mission statement, our goals for this year are:
1) To organize a March that is celebratory, political, and inclusive.
2) To build relationships with the 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.
Dyke March Mission Statement 2012
The 2012 Dyke March is committed to celebrating the diversity of dykes and to demonstrating our beliefs, desires, and public presence. We strive towards claiming space for queer women and dyke-identified people through actively engaging our unique communities, finding strength in our differences and belonging in our similarities. Our politics are queer and anti-normative; feminist and trans-positive; and anti-oppressive. We embrace the history of the Dyke March as a radical, political demonstration of critical mass and recognize the March’s contemporary significance in a climate of political conservatism, homophobia, and sexism. We aim to be accountable to our dyke communities by upholding values of transparency, respect, and collaboration. We aim to engage allies through sharing knowledge and by fostering their active support. We aim to respond to critiques of Pride celebrations by organizing the March and its affiliated projects through a grassroots ethic and by maintaining our voices and visibility at Pride Toronto. We are here to be out and proud, to take a stand and revel in queer space, to disrupt, to defy, and to make a riot of a good time.
It is the queer in me that empowers — that lets me see those lines and burn to cross them; that lets me question the lines we were all told about who women are, who men are, how we may interact…what nice girls do and don’t do. The queer in all of us clamors for pleasure and change, will not be tamed or regulated, wants a say in the creation of a new reality. — Carol A. Queen
Dyke March Mission Statement 2011
The 2011 Dyke March committee is committed to a re-politicization of the Dyke March. In recognizing past criticisms of Pride celebrations as overly corporate and solely focused on spectacle, we are working toward reviving the political origins and potential of the Dyke March and toward creating a space that allows the experiences, pleasures and identities of queer women to not only exist but also thrive. For us, being queer women, identifying as queer women, as dykes, is a personal and political project. Being queer in the midst of homophobia is a call to be political. Being a woman under patriarchy is a call to be political. Our politics are queer and anti-normative, feminist, anti-racist, anti-apartheid, anti-ableist, globally and historically conscious, and eco-friendly.
Ours is a politics founded on respect and collaboration. We recognize the need to represent ourselves publicly, to be visible, and to be outspoken about our beliefs. We strive toward celebrating our many communities. Our communities are unique and diverse. We find strength in our disagreements and differences as well as belonging in our similarities. We are here to be out and proud, to take a stand and claim public space – our city streets – as our queer space, to give dykes a face, to party and make a riot of a good time, and to inspire each other.
Queer refers to non-normative logics and organizations of community, sexual identity, embodiment, and activity in time and space. Queer space refers to the place-making practices […] in which queer people engage and it also describes the new understandings of space enabled by the production of queer counterpublics. – Jack Halberstam