BY WINNIE McCROY | Lesbian visibility in all its diversity was the order of the day on Saturday, June 28 when the 16th annual New York City Dyke March stepped off from Bryant Park at 42nd Street, traveling to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Befitting the theme of “Sexy, Screaming Sixteen,” participants ran the gamut -from lipstick lesbians and high femme bisexuals to minivan moms fighting for marriage equality to transmen celebrating gender identity and expression.
“We've crossed out the sweet, and it says screaming, sexy, strong… what we want people to know is that we are committed to our liberation, and willing to do what we need to,” said longtime march organizer Maxine Wolfe. “It's about dyke visibility, and we'll do it until everyone has what they need in life – not just marriage, but a job, healthcare, and housing.”
16th Annual Dyke March prevails despite torrential downpours
Moments after the marchers stepped off alongside the New York City Public Library at Bryant Park, the skies opened up, unleashing a deluge of rain upon marchers. Undaunted, lesbians and their allies took Fifth Avenue in this yearly event that operates sans permit.
Radical Cheerleader Elizabeth Coke concurred with Wolfe about the importance of the march as a visibility action.
“The face of gay has become a white male, and here we are, a bunch of dykes of all ages and colors, taking over the streets-we don't have a permit, this is a protest-and there's a lot of people here, it's always very exciting,” she said.
The group then performed a cheer, chanting, “We're sexy, we're cute, we're feminists to boot…”
Midway through the march, lesbian supporters Church Ladies for Choice were on the sidelines, braving the elements to sing their classic pride hit, “God is a Dyke.”
Prinny AlavÃƒ, an employee of the LGBT Community Center, circulated through the crowd to share information about programs there, saying, “We're still so invisible at gay pride, and I am trying to get more activities at the Center for lesbians. I was glad to see so much support from the sidelines.”
“I come here to support my lesbian sisters, and this is the one day of the year that all kinds of lesbians – intersex, bois, shims, leather daddies – come together and show they exist,” said nightlife host Murray Hill. “This march is for visibility, so that everyone knows this community exists. Most of the time we're all scattered out in Park Slope or Williamsburg… but this is about strength in numbers, kid. It still means something.”
Dressed as Spiderwoman, a young lesbian named Trey marched in support of a contingent of fat lesbians and their allies. Characters included Hellboy, Sexy Kitty, Cupcake, and Wonder Woman. “We feel that dykes in general are not flamboyant enough, so we're trying to bring a little flair to the march,” said Trey, who planned to finish the evening at the Submit play party, a BDSM event for women and female-identified transfolk.
Holding a laminated copy of their Massachusetts marriage license, Nancy Goldstein, a former women's studies professor, and her wife, Joan Hilty, married in July 2006, were out supporting marriage equality.
“I can't tell you how happy we are that other New York couples will be able to have their marriage recognized… but I'm certainly looking forward to a day when privileges aren't given out on the basis of people's marital status, when everyone has universal health care, inheritance rights, and adoption,” said Goldstein.
Wanda Seymour Beaver, a referee and former skater for the Gotham Roller Derby, said, “The best thing about the Dyke March is the collective power of everyone in the street. I've been to marches in many other cities including Dublin, where we got chased away by the cops, but the New York Dyke March is amazing because everyone comes together in a really beautiful, strong way, and you can really feel the strength of the community behind you, and I love it. The Dyke March, with all of its powerful energy, is the only thing that comes close to all the women on skates, knocking each other over.”
Nightlife promoter Dee Finley, who held a Friday night benefit for the Dyke March at Don Hill's, saw the march as a culmination of the community's collective efforts to make itself seen and heard. “Dykes aren't represented as much in mass media,” Finley said. “Gay men are always on the frontlines, so just the fact that we do this every year is good.”
Party promoter and DJ Sir Sabrina of Choice Cunts and Snapshot was equally excited, saying, “This is our day, for the women and queers, and that's a fabulous thing, with lots of positive energy.”
DJ Noa D, who stopped by the Choice Cunts party at Sultana in Williamsburg Saturday evening before leaving for her set at Laid at the Knitting Factory, said, “It's important for women to come out and have a good time together, and be able to express themselves freely in the company of other queer women, have a good time, and forget about the stresses of life. The parties at the end of this rainy day are like a rainbow – a unique and rare moment you have to revel in at the end of the storm.”