By Shaley Howard

Get ready, because it’s time for the Portland Dyke March! Last year hundreds of people showed up to march and show their dyke-alicious pride. This year we’re hoping to come out even louder and show the world we are proud, strong—and more beautiful than ever. And seriously, given the year we’ve had so far with this fucked up, hatemongering Trump administration—I think it’s time for all of us to represent.

The Dyke March was started by the Lesbian Avengers, who were a powerful grassroots activist organization/movement back in the 1990s that shook up the mainstream gay community and shifted the direction of the gay rights movement by politely (well, more often loudly) demanding inclusion and a voice for everyone. The movement epitomized the resentment the lesbian side of our community felt at not being heard or seen. The Dyke March, one of the events born out of the Lesbian Avengers movement, is an event that continues to this day in cities across the nation.

Why do we need a Dyke March if we have enormous Pride parades that continue to be popular and embraced by mainstream America? Well, for starters, because the Dyke March is a march, not a parade. One of the issues with the mainstream Pride parade, even though it’s become bigger and better, is that it often tends to homogenize our community and morph everyone into one category. And yes, in the bigger picture we are one big fabulous “queer” community. But not everyone within our community shares the same level of equality and visibility. Many people, especially women, often continue to be invisible, ignored and marginalized.

The Dyke March is important because when we come together in very visible mass numbers, it reminds us of our power. It reminds us that we do have voice and that we must never stop fighting for equality—both inside and outside of our community. We are able to witness and experience the strength of our numbers and our vast diversity, and see how empowering uniting together can be.

Now let’s face it, over the years the Dyke march has definitely changed. There was a time when our community wasn’t seemingly as diverse and gender fluid as it is now. But we are diverse. And we are a community that hopefully will continue to work diligently on our awareness of that diversity and inclusion of everyone. We now have both the Dyke March and the Trans March; something I believe is phenomenal and should be embraced. I’m a believer in unifying and embracing each other as one community yet at the same time acknowledging and supporting one another in our differences.

Everyone is welcome at the Portland Dyke March! Whether you identify as a lipstick lesbian, softball dyke, drag king, genderqueer, femme, butch, bearded lady, bisexual, fairy, trans, gender fluid dyke, boi…whatever—all are welcome. Come to support each other. We all want a voice. We are all fighting for equality. It’s your time to be heard and seen. Come celebrate dyke-veristy!

Oh and let’s not forget that aside from showing up, being proud and having fun—there is TONS of beautiful eye candy at the Dyke March. I mean seriously, if you’re not particularly politically motivated or maybe more of a behind the scenes type of change agent, there is still always something hot, sexy and beautiful to see at the Dyke March!

The Portland Dyke March kicks off Saturday, June 17 at 6:00 pm. It starts at the Portland Pride Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park (SW Pine and SW Naito Parkway). For information go to www.facebook.com/PortlandDykeMarch.

All are welcome as long as everyone is supportive and respectful of the message and purpose of the marchers and the march. Please come to empower not disrupt. There will be a vehicle for accessibility for those with mobility issues. And volunteers are wanted! If interested contact Belinda Carroll at pdxdykemarch@gmail.com.

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