By Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly

That’s right – it’s time for the Portland Dyke March! This year more than ever we need to get out, been seen and show how proud we are to be queer. And what better place to do this than the Dyke March.

For those not familiar with the Dyke March let me fill you in a bit. The first national Dyke March was held in 1993 in Washington DC. The idea for a march was started by the Lesbian Avengers. I realize I’m totally biased as the Lesbian Avengers were and I suppose still are – superstar, badass queer heroes to me. As a recently-out young and admittedly angry lesbian in the early 1990’s this movement at the time epitomized the resentment and anger many felt from living in a male dominated world. Even within our own community many were not seen nor given a platform for voice. Founded by Anne Maguire, Sarah Schulman, Ana Simo, Maxine Wolfe, Marie Honan, and Anne-Christine d’Adesky; the Lesbian Avengers became a powerful grassroots activist organization that completely altered and shook up the direction of the mainstream gay rights movement by demanding inclusion and voice for everyone. The Dyke March was and still is, very much a grass roots continuance of that movement with no corporate sponsorships as compared to most gay pride parades and celebrations. And the first Dyke March organized – drew over 20,000 people.

PDX Dyke MarchWhy the need for the Dyke march in the year 2016 instead of just Pride? Haven’t we become much more inclusive as a community over the last 20 some years? In many ways, yes of course. At a bare minimum we’ve expanded the concept of “gay”. Back in the 80’s and early 90’s there was just the Gay Club which supposedly included all queers. Then the “L” for lesbians was added on making it the Gay and Lesbian Club. Since then we as a community seem to be acutely sensitive to the importance of trying to make sure everyone is included. So much so that we often have difficulty when discussing what to name groups so full inclusivity is reached, i.e. should it be LGBTQ, LGBTTIQQ2SA, queer etc. Yet even with this heightened awareness, there are still pockets of the community that still feel excluded.

And contrary to mainstream pride, the dyke march is not a parade, it’s a grassroots march. Let’s not forget that the impetus behind the Lesbian Avengers movement and the Dyke March was due to a feeling of inequality and the often forgotten LBT in LGBT. The Dyke March empowers community and reminds us to keep fighting for equality, visibility and voice for the marginalized both in the outside world and within our own community. And if you doubt there are those who feel sidelined and invisible – just ask a couple femme lesbians sometime what their experience has been in the LGBTQ community.

It is critical that Dykes see each other. That we know our tribe is vast and powerful. In the larger culture, we are commodified, exploited, marginalized, distorted, parodied, and made both invisible and hyper-visible in ways that don’t serve us. When we see each other by the hundreds at the Dyke March, we are reminded of our part in a diverse, tenacious clan of warriors. We have all had to fight for our place, in some respect. When we are together, we feel relief. We feel fortified, and better able to cope with a culture that doesn’t always revere us as it should. We are reminded of the importance of empowerment and community. OUR community.” – commented Amy James Neel.

Whether you identify as dyke, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer, trans, bois, andros, genderqueer, gender variant, femme, butch, drag king or lipstick lesbian – the Dyke March is for you. It’s your community. It’s your time to be heard and seen. And this year in particular it’s a march of proud queer celebration and fun! Oh and of course – it’s also a fantastic opportunity to check out all the hotties and eye candy.

This year’s Dyke March kicks off Saturday, June 18th at 6:30PM at the Oregon Maritime Museum located at SW Naito Parkway and SW Pine Street. All are welcome as long as everyone is supportive and respectful of the message and purpose of the marchers and the march. No one wants to be the march hall monitors so come to empower not disrupt. There will be a vehicle for accessibility for those with mobility issues.

For additional information about the Dyke March go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/288482678167504/288581208157651/?notif_t=like&notif_id=1465863194312203.

If you would like to join the Dyke March sign making party go to: