N.Y. Scene: Pride edition

Dyke March @ Bryant Park – June 26, 2010

At 5pm sharp, thousands of women stepped out of Bryant Park, turned the corner and marched down 5th Avenue in the 18th Annual NYC Dyke March. A protest march held annually without permits, participants “march for women’s visibility in the LGBTQI community, queer women’s rights, in protest of anti-lesbian violence, and in celebration of queer women’s lives.” While the Dyke March doesn’t target specific issues, such as marriage equality or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, its all-encompassing mission allows participants to march for the issue of their choice.

The first National Dyke March took place on April 24, 1993, the day before the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Equal Rights and Liberation. The Lesbian Avengers planned that Dyke March to increase lesbian visibility and inclusion and to protest anti-lesbian violence and discrimination, and the first NYC Dyke March was held in June of 1993.

I asked Blair G., one of the organizers of the Dyke March, about the craziest event that occurred during a past March.

“In 1995, [Mayor] Giuliani wanted to alter the route of the Pride March so that it did not pass St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He threatened to arrest anyone who was nude, including women who were bare breasted. However, that year the NY Supreme Court had ruled that it was perfectly legal for women to go bare breasted as long as they were not doing it for soliciting or other commercial purposes.

Well, Giuliani expanded Pride to include the NYC Dyke March, an event where many women are known to go topless. One of the head marshals that year showed up with a flyer explaining the court ruling and distributed it to the marchers so they would know what to do if anyone got hassled for being topless. Then the organizers decided they would do a ‘moment of toplessness’ to show who was in control. The marshals passed the word through the crowd. And, when the march reached 23rd Street, the front marshals, who were marching in front of the banner, took off their shirts and started twirling them above their heads. When they did this, a huge number of the dykes in the march did the same thing, starting with those closest to the front and going towards the back like a wave. No one was arrested and many of the marchers, including the front and head marshals, marched bare-breasted down to Washington Square Park.”

This year, the only snag was a minor holdup at around 38th street. The organizers and police officers had a brief argument about the amount of lanes the marchers were allowed to take up. While this exchange was taking place, the crowd of women banged on drums and screamed, “Give us the streets!”

Never mess with an army of lesbians.

Now, there is a time for politics, and there is a time for partying. It’s time to party.

Rapture on the River @ Pier 54 – June 26, 2010

The annual Dance on the Pier, which is held the last Sunday of June, attracts close to 10,000 men. Seven years ago, Heritage of Pride decided that women should also have a chance to drink beer and dance on Chelsea Piers under a monstrous lighting setup, and Rapture on the River was born.

Although not as high profile as Dance on the Pier, around 3,000-4,000 women have attended in recent years. For many women, Rapture is used to pregame before the massive Saturday night women’s Pride events that have sprouted up all over Manhattan in recent years, and we will cover a few of those in turn.



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