Dyke Day and Lez Croix Provide Much-Needed Spaces for Queer Women During LA Pride

“It never felt like we fit into LA Pride, so we created our own.”

Every city celebrates Pride in its own way, and most try their best to make sure LGBTQ women feel not only included, but that they have their own space to come together and create community every year. Some Prides host Dyke Marches as part of their festivities, but for the past 10 years, Los Angeles has had, in addition to their Friday night March through West Hollywood, an all-day gathering in the park for queer women and friends, called Dyke Day.

Created as an alternative to the “corporate sponsored West Hollywood Pride parties,” Dyke Day has been the go-to women’s event every second weekend in June for the last decade, bringing out women of all ages, neighborhoods and backgrounds to gather outside  in an open but fairly secluded, secure space provided by hard-working organizers like Sparrow Fox. Fox, a hairstylist at queer-owned Folklore Salon in Echo Park and self-professed “Virgo-Type A-Driver personality,” has been an organizer with Dyke Day for three years, and says she was inspired to get involved because “I really was searching for a place for myself and my skills in my community,” she says. “There are many ways to identify as a dyke, and we wanted to create a space where everyone who IDs that way felt welcome, seen and valued.”

Dyke DayPhotos by Amanda Peterson

Vanessa Craig has worked on Dyke Day for several years, and this year, created a pre-party, Lez Croix, to help bring the queer women a space to celebrate. She says Dyke Day was originally created by four queer women—Lizanne Deliz, Kat Laukat, MW Wilson, Sarah Tomchessen and Michelle Johnson—who “wanted to create a space similar to Dolores Park in SF during pride weekend, a free, inclusive space closer to home, representative of the dyke community and more welcoming to a mix of lesbian, queer, trans folx and families.”

I think it’s great that WeHo has a huge annual festival, a parade, queens and all that fanfare, but it always seemed so far away, male-centric, and plagued by accessibility issues, monetary and otherwise,” Craig says. “And lez face it, parking was a bitch and you usually had to pee between cars on a curb—you know you did. So why couldn’t we have our own, more inclusive and accessible version of LA pride? … It’s also that one magical day of the year where you get to see people you haven’t seen in years and also realize woah, there are so many lesbians in LA, and they’re all here.

This year’s Dyke Day will be held in Debs Park, a new location but with the same inclusive space that Fox describes as “dyke-centric, queer-affirming [and] ally welcoming.” But to create such a space takes a lot of effort on the behalf of a small committee (this year, there are only four planners), who not only have to worry about logistics such as permits, insurance, porta-potties, sound systems and food trucks, but planning fundraisers and creating partnerships with businesses to help pay for it to happen.

We are really supported by the queer community,” Fox says. “Sometimes we receive flack for hosting fundraisers in traditionally ‘male’ spaces such as the Eagle. .. It would be so cool if there was a dyke-owned bar on the east side that we could be hosted by, but if it exists we don’t know about it. The owners of the spaces that we are welcomed into are treasures to us. We rely on their support and they come through for us year after year.”

Vanessa Craig | photo by Jenella Brooks

Silverlake’s queer dive Akbar hosts an after-party every year, but this year, Craig and her co-promoters will hold Lez Croix at The Airliner on Friday night in nearby Lincoln Heights.

The Airliner is not a queer-owned space, but we’ve done a couple parties there in the past and they’ve always been very welcoming,” says Craig, who is working with promoters/DJs Jen DM, Irene Urias, Rachel Lee and Romy on the event. “Most other venues already have weekend night residencies, and most gay bars in LA have those nights reserved for mostly male promoters and parties. And then a case of the ‘Wait, where is the actual lesbian bar?’ sets in and a reminder of the lack of lesbian owned venues in LA becomes disheartening. Just like most parties, if you build it they will come, but it’s always been a challenge securing a lesbian/queer weekend night in general in my experience, and most times you have to ‘take over’ or try to coexist in non-queer spaces.”

Which is exactly why the space Dyke Day provides is so necessary. But much like Dyke Marches around America, finding people who have the ability to volunteer their time has proven difficult.

“It would be especially interesting to actually track the number of hours that get put into planning this event – because I honestly have no idea,” Fox says. “There are so many little pieces it takes an incredible amount of time to make sure that all the gears are lined up and ready to go. I know that this year, in particular, one of our committee members donated a ton of her personal time managing our raffle for our Annual Beer Bust, collecting items, making gift packages etc.”

Photo by Dyke Day Facebook

Providing an opportunity for the dykes of LA to come together in a free, dog-friendly, sponsorship-free space where “no one is trying to sell you anything,” Dyke Day is more valuable than most attendees consider, and will hopefully take notice of on its 10th anniversary.

“If Dyke Day ended suddenly it would be a huge loss for the community,” Fox says. “It’s important to come out of our neighborhood bubbles and meet other folx and reconnect with one another socially as well as be reminded of the importance of community and why we celebrate Pride annually. Being together is seeing one another is affirming our existence and value in this world.”

To have the community come through every year to support this much-needed and loved space is truly touching and empowering,” Craig says. “The organizers always made a point of programming the day with local dyke and trans DJs, family-focused activities, and yes, even a kink community booth in the corner. It never felt like we fit into LA Pride, so we created our own.”

Photo by Dyke Day Facebook

Dyke Day takes place on June 10th, noon-6pm, Earnest Debs Park 4235 Monterey Road, Los Angeles, CA 90032. Lez Croix will be at The Airliner on Friday, June 9th from 9pm-2am at 2419 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90031.

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