Over 100 people gathered on the evening of Friday, July 23, 2010 for the first Dyke March held in Halifax.
“[This march is] a political demonstration where we, women - gay, straight and otherwise - and trans folk, and our allies take to the street to promote the visibility and create space for queer women and trans people, to protest the oppression of members of our diverse community and celebrate our strength,” said Rebecca Rose, one of the march’s organizers, during the pre-march rally held in Victoria Park.
Rose explained how the word “march” attests to the political nature of the event.
“This Dyke March is very distinctly not a parade. Parades are important... but we also have to remember how we got to where we are today,” said Rose.
“We didn’t win these victories by parading. Did we? We and the activists that came before us won these fights by marching, by chanting, by kicking, by screaming, by challenging the law and often by breaking the law, and our fights aren’t over,” she said as people cheered.
Remembering how far the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community has come and how far it still has to go wasn’t the only reason for the march. Mary Burnet, a member of the organizing collective, says the march was also an attempt to support visibility and public space for queer women and trans people.
"Within the LGBTQ community, queer women and trans people don't benefit from the same gendered privileges as non-trans gay men do, and because we often have lower incomes than non-trans men do in a patriarchal society, there often aren't as many public spaces for us."
When the march was first advertised in May, Burnet says it was advertised as a march for "women loving women," which she says is not inclusive of many queer women.
“A lot of queer women are with people who don’t identify as women, but these are still queer relationships” says Burnet. "Many dyke marches in other cities are inclusive of trans people, which recognizes the close ties and overlaps between these communities, and recognizes our lack of gendered privilege."
The Halifax Dyke March was open to women and trans people who identify as dykes, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirit, asexual, and/or something else. Allies who identify as non-trans men, as well as other marchers, marched behind a banner that read "WE (heart) TRANS & QUEER COMMUNITIES."
The protesters marched from Victoria Park to the corner of Gottingen and Cunard. Many had signs and yelled chants such as “My junk is not for you to see, remove the sex from all ID!” and “We’re here, we’re queer, we make pride political!”
During the march, people driving by or walking on the sidewalk cheered and blared their horns in support.
“There is awareness in the general public, and we saw by the support that there are a lot of people that were just at Cidatel Hill and around and saw us and were waving at us, so that’s great,” said Catherine Meade, a speaker at the rally and human rights activist.
More awareness is still needed in the general public of issues facing the LGBTQ community, especially in regards to homophobia and transphobia, said the marchers.
“Our society has really got to not support homophobia anymore. It is prevalent in much of society and media so we really have to get it out there and just acknowledge that [homophobia] is a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Fiona McNutt, supporter.
“On all of the materials for Halifax Pride it says ‘Atlantic Canada’s Largest LGBTQ Cultural Festival’. No mention of political demonstration or protest,” said Rose.
“Parades have their rightful place,” said Meade, “But we still need to march.”