Us Dykes March to a Different Beat

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Us Dykes March to a Different Beat

Pride parades will take place all over the country this month, and Boston’s was this weekend. Race, unfortunately, continues to be one of the fault lines in many of our Pride festivals across the country. As is gender identity.

Long before Black and Latino Prides marched to their soulful and salsa beats in the late 80s and early 90s, respectively, Lesbian Pride marches came on the scene in the 70s. And they were protest marches publicly denouncing, at the time, the political stronghold and exclusionary practices of Gay Pride events—as Wikipedia correctly notes—"by white gay men at the expense of lesbians in general and women of color in particular."

By the 1990s, Dyke Marches emerged. Unlike Lesbian Pride marches (which were not an ongoing tradition in the 70s and 80s), Dyke Marches are now in their second decade of existence. This year marks exactly Boston’s 20th anniversary.

These marches bring to the fore not only the visibility, activism, gifts and talents of lesbians, but they also highlight the visibility, activism, gifts and talents of all self-identified women within the LBT community.

Heather Kough, co-facilitator of this year's Boston Dyke March Committee, wrote in an email, "We are a grassroots, all-volunteer group with a deep commitment to inclusion, meaning that participation is open to folks across the gender and orientation spectrums, people of all races, ethnicities, ages, economic backgrounds, sizes, and physical abilities.To sum up, 'The Dyke March Is For Everyone!'"

And the Boston Dyke March poster makes it a point to elaborate on what the committee means by "Everyone!":

"Lesbians—dykes – queers—bi-women—boychicks—tomboys—grrrls—lesbian moms—lesbianas—femmes—butches—transwomen—androgs—transmen—gay girls—bois—womanists —fat dykes—sorority girls with pearls who are sleeping together—dykes on bikes—lesbian crones—african american lesbians—rural dykes —goddesses—genderqueers—poly girls—amazons—hippy chicks—lipstick lesbians—asian dykes—lesbian avengers—dykes in wheelchairs—wise old lesbians—leather dykes – babydykes ... and You!"

As Boston Dyke March celebrates its 20th Anniversary, I helped them, as one of their keynoters this year, to remember the 40th anniversary the Combahee River Collective—a forgotten shoulder that has both shaped and informed theirs and all present-day feminist activism.

In 1974 the Combahee River Collective was founded in Boston by the boldacious act of several lesbians and feminists women of African descent. And as a sisterhood that understood that their acts of protest are shouldered by and because of their ancestors—known and unknown- who came before them, the Collective’s name honors