Every dyke is a hero—just by being herself. Come out and take a stand for freedom, liberty, and equality for us all on June 23, when the all-volunteer New York City Dyke March will celebrate its 20th anniversary with the traditional march down Fifth Avenue from Bryant Park to Washington Square Park. Thousands of women will protest violence and discrimination against lesbian, bisexual and trans women, as well as celebrate the diversity and strength of the dyke community.
GO chatted with Gabrielle Korn, a member of the Dyke March 2012 planning committee, about the Dyke March’s enduring purpose and its role in the fight for social justice.
GO: ‘Every Dyke Is A Hero’ is the theme of this year’s march—that’s a bold statement! How do you want lesbians and women in general to respond?
Gabrielle Korn: Hopefully they will be as excited about it as we are! Since it’s the 20th NYC Dyke March, we really wanted to have a theme that functions as a thank you to all of the amazing dykes who have made it possible to have a march each year, and also who live their lives proudly and bravely. There would be no Dyke March without them, and we wanted to honor that.
Do you and the other marchers feel like heroes?
Just the act of living your life as a dyke is heroic — throughout history and today. It takes real bravery to follow your heart and to create community outside of the predetermined structures of hetero-normativity that most of us were raised within. I’m inspired every day by the strength of the dykes around me—and hopefully all the marchers will feel the same.
What do you hope the Dyke March will accomplish?
It’s important for us to take over the street and to be loud and visible. Dykes are allies to so many causes; this is our space to celebrate each other. We still have so much further to go before true equality is reached—and a big part of that is simply being seen for who we are. The Dyke March is to protest the injustices our community has suffered, and also to rejoice in how much strength we can have when we all come together. And it’s an annual reminder to the rest of the world that lesbians exist!
Can you describe the atmosphere of the march, for those who have never experienced it?
Since it’s a protest, it feels like the best rally you’ve ever been to; it’s also like a block party with every dyke you’ve ever met in your life. Women come from all over the place. It’s celebratory, it’s loud, it’s super fun and exciting. It’s also really inspirational and moving.
What if you want to participate as a drummer?
Just show up with a drum!
What about police presence?
The Dyke March is not a registered parade; it’s a protest march, so we plan it without the help of the police. The Dyke March is marshaled by women from the community who do a spectacular job of blocking off traffic and protecting the marchers.
Do you foster an inclusive atmosphere? Will transwomen feel welcome?
As transwomen are women, not men, they are encouraged with open arms to march. The Dyke March is for anyone who identifies as a dyke and/or as a woman. Supporters of the march who do not identify as dykes and/or women are encouraged to cheer us on from the sidelines.
Do you encourage families to get involved?
It’s good for everyone to see thousands of dykes together, children included. I mean, when else do you see thousands and thousands of dykes together? It’s really important to have a visual, physical representation of how large and powerful our community is.
What is one change you hope to effect with this year’s march?
I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one change. It’s more about maintaining the march as a safe space for women and dykes to come and protest, celebrate and be themselves. I’d like to see 20,000 dykes this year. And next year. And every year after that.