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San Francisco's high cost of living is a national news story and it's the one issue that disparate groups, with varying agendas, can rally around.

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San Francisco pride 2015Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Young Dyke Power Usurps Old Dyke March

Photos and text by Sidney Brinkley

The 23rd Annual Dyke March of Saturday, June 27, will be one organizers will never forget - no matter how much they may want to. After months of meetings, fundraising, and the all-around grueling work associated with putting on one of the premier Pride events, almost nothing went as scheduled. Poor logistics, an ill-planned and controversial route change, and weeks of internecine squabbling, turned the usually orderly and well-run event into something of a chaotic mess.

This year's theme is: My Body, My Business, My Power. What began 23 years ago, by the radical group known as the "Lesbian Avengers" and had 10,000 participants, has grown into the largest gathering of lesbians in the U.S. One published report put attendance at 200,000. I can't vouch for that figure but it was a huge crowd. Every inch of park land was occupied.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Praesent aliquam, justo

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Maecenas urna purus, Namtristique in, vulputate at, odio.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


the sound truck where rotating DJ's entertained the dancing in the street It was quite

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


And there were more crowds on the street. On the right, just out of the frame, is the
There were more crowds on the street. On the right, just out of the frame, is the sound truck where rotating DJ's entertained a crowd dancing in the street. It was quite a party scene.

Dyke Drama on Dolores

As with the Trans March, I've been to every Dyke March. The set-up has always been the same. The Dykes on Bikes motorcycle contingent would line up along 18th street, on the north side of the park, then would lead the march down 18th and marchers would follow.

However, the Dyke March has grown so popular, march organizers felt they could no longer safely maneuver the sound truck through the crowd. They changed the set-up. Dykes on Bikes would park nearly a block away on Dolores and the march would start there, instead of going down 18th.

There's a back story here involving feuds between various factions, coupled with a generational divide, that I'm not getting into. But if you want to wade through all the details, then the Dyke March Facebook page is a good place to start.

Suffice to say, the change in route became the last straw for some folks and a group formed to promote what they called, "The Splinter March". They sent out a press release announcing who they are, what they believe in, and, more importantly, what they planned to do. Then, they retracted it. Or, I should say they "attempted" to retract the press release. Too late! The media doesn't work that way.

SFist, an alternative media outlet in San Francisco, while duly noting that the group had retracted it, published the text of the release anyway and here it is:

"The splinter march will follow the original protest route, reclaiming Dyke March as a political action, centered in radical politics and solidarity with Black Lives Matter, the displaced families of San Francisco and Queer and Trans People of Color. The decision to change the route comes in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, radical demographic shifts in our neighborhoods and on the back of several recent city decisions to defund eviction defense and increase funding for police at a time in history that demands more accountability for marginalized communities. The dyke community in San Francisco is bound up in a larger struggle for racial justice and will position itself in solidarity with the larger historical moment. Being queer means fighting all oppression; homophobia, racism, misogyny, transphobia, state-sanctioned police violence, and a culture of white supremacy and patriarchy. We will not stand silently. In solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed communities, we march."

Earlier that day, while I was out and about, I did notice a larger than usual police presence, particularly at the corner of 18th & Dolores, where about six cops stood abreast. While it looked a bit unusual, they were almost evenly spaced, I didn't pay them that much attention. They weren't doing anything and people were walking both through and around them. I took it as normal security.

Later, I'm in my usual perch above the crowd, preparing to shoot the march when, without warning, someone on the sound truck announces: "Let's start the march." Then, I hear motorcycles revving up and a crowd begins to cheer as Dykes on Bikes takes off.

What the fuck?!

I don't see anything because this is happening a block away at 17th Street. It's only then I realize, not only did they change the route, but they changed the way the march begins and I was pissed the fuck off! (Still)

Every year, one of my favorite shoots are the Dykes on Bikes riding down 18th Street at the Dyke March! The organizers did a poor job of publicizing this aspect of the route change to the general public. Everybody doesn't read their Web page! I had no idea, and apparently neither did the bulk of the attendees in the park because they missed it, as well. Logistically, this was a mess and just did not work for the public!

The march begins and the first contingent is the drum group that are there every year. (Forgive me. I know who they are but their name escapes me at the moment.)

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Nam blandit quam ut lacus.io.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


They make a left turn onto Dolores Street, the new route.
They make a left turn onto Dolores Street, the new route.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The crowd falls in behind them. The crowd falls in behind them.
The crowd falls in behind them.

Then, coming down Dolores from the park, is a group holding a large white banner with DYKE POWER on it, and they're doing a call-and-response.

WHOSE STREETS? one group would ask. OUR STREETS! another would respond.
And they are loud!

WHOSE STREETS?
OUR STREETS!
WHOSE STREETS?
OUR STREETS!

When they reach the corner, the group, about 50 - 60 strong, abruptly turn onto 18th Street, and are met by that wall of police officers mentioned earlier.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


they are doin a call and response.

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The crowd brushes easily through them. The crowd brushes easily through them.
The crowd brushes easily through them.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





However, about 30 feet behind the first line of cops, sits a second wall of eight,
However, about 30 feet behind the first line of cops, sits a second wall of seven, helmeted, police officers on motorbikes, and the marchers are unable to brush past them as easily as they did the first line of cops. Still shouting WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS! - they are right up in the officers' faces as they attempt to lift the banner over the heads of the police.

At the time, I was baffled. How could the police be there in such force, ready and waiting for the protest? Well, that's what happens when you send out a press release detailing your plan.

Meanwhile, most of the news media are a block away on Dolores, covering the other march when this commotion breaks out. If you've never seen a media rush, there's nothing quite like it. I could hear them before I could see them. Cameramen and reporters, come running down the street!

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The police line is holding strong. The marchers cannot break through.
The police line is holding strong. The marchers cannot break through. For about half-a minute, there's a stand-off and it looks as if things could go very wrong. Then, I
The police line is holding strong. The marchers cannot break through. For about half-a minute, there's a stand-off and it looks as if things could go very wrong. Then, I
The police line is holding strong. The marchers cannot break through. For about half-a minute, there's a stand-off and it looks as if things could go very wrong. Then, I hear a senior police officer shout out: LET'EM THROUGH! LET'EM THROUGH! And this is verbally relayed down the line.

The police pull over to the side, opening the street, and a tremendous cheer rises from the crowd as the marchers continue down the street - and the crowd follows them. The route change is history as The Splinter March hijacks The Dyke March.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


As if on cue, the next banner is a call to the roots, The first Pride was a Riot.Lorem

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As if on cue, the next big banner said remember, "The Fist Pride was A Riot."
As if on cue, the next banner to appear says, "The First Pride Was A Riot."

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However, this had to be the briefest march in Dyke March histiory, lasting maybe 20
However, this had to be the briefest march in Dyke March history, lasting maybe 20 minutes, at best. Many of the people in the park didn't know, or perhaps didn't care, the march had begun.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


After the splinter march passed, the police gathered to try to figure out what the
After the splinter march passed, the police gathered to try to figure out what the fuck just happened. How did they lose control? Dyke March organizers are probably asking themselves the same thing.

Dyke March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




But, it wasn't over yet. There was still a huge crowd of people in, and around,
But, it wasn't over yet. There was still a huge crowd of people in, and around, Dolores Park long after the event was scheduled to be over, which lead to another problem: a traffic nightmare as police tried to re-open the streets, while managing crowd control. Much later that night, officers had to drive into the park and sweep it with searchlights to force people out.

Sunday morning, park workers had quite a bit of trash to clean up. And while the Dyke March didn't kill the park, they did leave it wounded. After all the time, effort, and money spent on that beautiful lawn, it was fucked-up in a day! There's sure to be reverberations from all this.

It's been obvious for some time now that the Dyke March has outgrown Dolores Park, and the surrounding neighborhood. It's almost like what would happen if the city put the Gay Pride event back in the Castro. It wouldn't fit. At some point soon, organizers are going to have to seriously consider a change of venue. And if a route change produced an uprising, can you imagine what will be done with a change of venue?

Perhaps we will find out sooner than anyone thinks, for whether it's run by the new young dykes, or the old guard, change has to come to the Dyke March.

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Park, and the surrounding neighborhood. It's a victim of its own success. At some point soon, organizers are going to have to seriously consider a change of venue. And if a route change produced an uprising, can you imagine what will be done with


The End
End It's been obvious for some time now that the Dyke March has outgrown Dolores Park, and the surrounding neighborhood. It's a victim of its own success. At some point soon, organizers are going to have to seriously consider a change of venue. And if a route change produced an uprising, can you imagine what will be done with a change of venue?