Despite all the rainbow cupcakes and the requisite Super Soakers, the Dyke March is more than just a rowdy celebration of queer pride: it’s a political rally demanding respect for queer women and trans people now. According to Laura Krahn, Dyke March committee member and one of two women holding up the banner that led the way on Saturday, this year is all about politicizing the event within a largely depoliticized festival. As she emphasizes, this is not a parade, it’s a march.
“I think, as queer women, our issues are different. And we still live in a society that doesn’t treat women as equal citizens, so we still have more work to do,” Krahn told us. “Our identities are complex; some of us experience very different types of oppression, and I think as women it’s important to be together and represent that and remind ourselves about the things we have in common and also the differences that make us stronger.”
The march started at Hayden and Church, made its way up to Bloor, then west to Yonge and back south into the heart of the Village. Its participants proved political indeed, from the actively supportive and openly gay Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale), to the infiltration of Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West). Rob Ford’s right-hand man tagged along with his video camera, and despite the many #PeepingMammoliti jokes that soon started flying across Twitter, it turns out he was there on a hunt for evidence he hopes will convince the City to pull Pride’s funding—specifically, evidence of intolerance, in the form of “Israeli apartheid” protesters. (Before the day was out his demands that Pride should lose its funding had hit the papers.)
Joining the march for the first time was 16-year-old Leanne Iskander, who entered the spotlight earlier this year when her Catholic high school in Mississauga turned down her request to start a gay-straight alliance. Thanks to her school’s refusal, Leanne now has the support of not just a group of students, but the entire queer community. Before this year’s Dyke March began, she was one of several speakers at a rally at Norman Jewson Park, on Isabella Street just west of Church: “For me, being queer, being a woman, and being 16, I’m kind of just expected to take a lot of shit and not stand up for myself,” she said to the crowd. “I think my school board assumes they can just deny me my rights as they please, but I know my rights, and my fellow students and I are standing up for ourselves.”
In our photo gallery, a full timeline of this weekend’s Dyke March, which marked yet another appearance by “Not Ford”, plus one very festively attired puppy.
Photos by Laura Godfrey/Torontoist.