While organizers of the Pride Festival are busy finalizing plans for next week’s celebration, another group of organizers is gearing up for a local tradition that is less celebratory in nature and more of a rallying cry for the LGBT community’s female members.
The 11th-annual Dyke March will kick off at 3 p.m. June 13 at Kahn Park, 11th and Pine streets.
Organizer Sasha Gamburg said many cities throughout the country stage their own version of the Dyke March to coincide with each locale’s Pride festival.
“The Dyke March traditionally happens the day before Pride events as an alternative to the more corporate, male-focused Pride,” Gamburg said. “We have no vendors, no sponsors; it’s just designed for people who identify as dykes to put on an event that’s more than Pride.”
The Dyke March unites female-identified members of the LGBT community — lesbians, bisexuals, transgender women and others who identify with this gender — to call for political and legislative action on a variety of subjects.
“It’s meant to get people riled up and to take notice of issues affecting our community,” Gamburg said. “This is a political demonstration; it’s not a parade or stroll. We’re trying to get really good speakers and activists to come out and talk to us about these issues and about what we should be angry about and what we should be fighting for.”
Gamburg said the participating musicians and speakers will “get the crowd going” before the contingent sets off on the march route — east on Pine to Seventh, north to Spruce, west on Spruce to 13th, north to Locust, east to 12th, south to Pine, then returning to Kahn Park — armed with drums and signs.
Gamburg said organizers considered renting a stage for the speakers, but then came up with a cost-effective, creative alternative.
“We were going to rent a tiny stage, but then someone was like, ‘You have a bunch of dykes and you’re not just building your own stage?’ It sounded funny at first, but then we considered it and were just like, ‘Yeah, why not? Let’s build a stage.’ So it’s going to be a handmade, dyke-owned and -operated stage.”
Gamburg said last year’s attendance may have been impacted by the near-100-degree temperature — the event drew about 100 individuals — and that she’s hoping for at least double the crowd at next week’s march.
In addition to uniting members of the LGBT community, the Dyke March also raises awareness among spectators about the many facets of the local LGBT population.
“Because we’ve had the event in the same space for the last number of years, it helps to put some good visibility out there,” Gamburg said. “The city seems to embrace its GLBT community, and I think some people have a picture of what it looks like, but this is an opportunity for people to see a different face of the queer community. Not the educational side or the party side, but this is a new political face.”
Gamburg credited the diverse team of organizers for fueling the Dyke March’s annual success.
“It’s a very fluid organizational structure; no one’s in charge, we’re just a group of people getting together every year and making this happen,” she said. “All of us are so different and have different interests, friend groups and ability levels. When all those forces combine, we can’t help but have an amazing march happening.”