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The Chicago Dyke March – A Work in Progress; A March of Resistance

DykeMarchBy The Chicago Dyke March Collective

Organizing is hard. Collaborating is challenging. Being a Collective that organizes and collaborates with the end goal of creating a March for hundreds of people – nearly impossible. However, for the past 17 years, members of the Chicago Dyke March Collective have successfully accomplished this goal.

This year, the March will take place on Saturday, June 29, at 3:00 p.m., in the Argyle neighborhood of Chicago for the second year in a row. Offering another narrative during June’s Pride Month, the March is about intentionality, anti-oppressiveness, accessibility, and resistance. The Dyke March is a grassroots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual, and transgender resilience. The March asks no registration or participation fees and doesn’t accept any corporate sponsorship. All expenses are paid for by individual and community organizations’ donations.

“We’re working on staying true to our values and being intentional about doing work that is anti-oppressive and anti-racist. This includes examining how we collaborate in the communities where we march,” explains Juana Peralta, Collective Member.

Being in Argyle follows the template of past years when the Collective in 2007 decided to move the March to a different neighborhood for 2008 and 2009 (Pilsen); 2010 and 2011 (South Shore).

The Collective decided to move the 2012 March to the Argyle neighborhood after receiving two proposals to have it there, one from a community member, and one from a community-based organization called Invisible to Invincible: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago (i2i).  As an organization that seeks to affirm and celebrate Asian and Pacific Islanders who identify as LGBTQ, i2i felt it important to have an event like the Dyke March in an Asian neighborhood, and is cosponsoring the March.

dyke-mapThe main area of the Argyle neighborhood is the three blocks on Argyle Street between Sheridan Road and Broadway Street.  In the 1960s-70s, a group of Chinese businesspeople, some of whom already owned businesses in Chinatown, bought almost all of the property in that three block area, with the idea to create a “New Chinatown.” The vision grew to include other Asian groups, and people from countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, many of whom immigrated in response to the wars in Southeast Asia, opened businesses and came to live in the neighborhood.

Staying in the neighborhood for two years allows for continued community outreach, collaboration, and transformation. The Collective has already seen the difference this second year.

For example, this past May, the Collective co-organized the Dyke March Community Forum with the longstanding and respected non-profit advocacy organization, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago. The Collective also has made closer ties with Vietnamese restaurants that are along the March route. Additionally, the Collective created a successful Indie GoGo Campaign and organized more fundraisers and presented in more academic courses this year.

Something that many people often don’t know is the city permits, paperwork, and fees as well as working with the Alderman and Police Commander that the grassroots, all volunteer Collective must work through.

“It was a real learning experience. However, meeting Alderman Osterman and Cappelman’s Aide gave me the opportunity to interact in a positive way with our elected city officials,” comments Collective Member Liz Thomson, “This is something I never would have done had it not been due to the March.”

Photo from 2012 Dyke March

Photo from 2012 Dyke March

The day of the March will begin bright and early and end almost 12 hours later. There will be those who have participated for years; and others, this is their first one. Those organizing, marching, and supporting will have hundreds of different stories to tell as they walk back to the eL, their cars, or to the bus. The March will be beautiful evidence of many dyke communities coming together in solidarity and resistance.

At this year’s March, we will be taking feedback where the community wants to be for the next two years. Additionally, we’re looking for an anchor community organization to partner with – as this is crucial for successful community collaboration. The Collective will be intentional on deciding the next move.

Detail information can be found on our Facebook Group or chicagodykemarch.wordpress.com.

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Event info:

Chicago Dyke March 2013
Saturday, June 29
Gather at 2:00 p.m.; Step-off at 3:00 p.m.; and Rally at 4:30 p.m.
Margate Park; Argyle/Marine Drive
Accessible by CTA using the Red Line Argyle stop, #36, #151, or #146 busses.

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