With the slogan of “Not your fucking body, not your fucking business,” dykes from all over gathered at Bryant Park on June 24 to participate in the 31st annual NYC Dyke March, which proceeded along Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park. This year’s Dyke March was a protest against anti-trans and anti-reproductive health policies in response to a political climate that has witnessed an onslaught of transphobic legislation and the Supreme Court’s evisceration of abortion rights.
Dykes across New York City seized on these issues of bodily autonomy and spilled their outrage into the streets. Signs emphasized trans equality and liberation, stressed empowerment at a time when others “divide and conquer,” underscored a message of “sisters not cisters,” and called to “make Sappho proud.” Pride celebrities like Mary Magdalene and “Orange is the New Black” star Lea DeLaria made appearances at the Dyke March.
The Dyke March tends to draw large crowds, culminating in a massive group of dykes taking over Bryant Park, Fifth Avenue, and then, finally, Washington Square Park, dancing, chanting, and singing creative songs like “The Dykes Go Marching In.”
Jac Grady, one of the members of the committee organizing this year’s march, live streamed and photographed the march from the front. It was their first year on the committee, which they described as “non-hierarchical.” They specifically work on the subcommittees of accessibility, outreach, and community expectations.
“Every year we pick a theme, which was ‘Dykes for bodily autonomy’ this year, and that really resonated because it’s everything,” Grady said. “It’s the anti-trans legislation, it’s reproductive justice, it’s the fact that it just became an executable offense to be gay in Uganda,” Grady said. They also brought up the issues surrounding bodily autonomy in relation to COVID and police-related violence and deadly violence against Black people.
Despite, or perhaps in spite of, the issues, harmful rhetoric, and dangers being posed against queer individuals — and in this case, dykes — the Dyke March was an incredible success “because it is a protest and not a parade,” Grady added.
“Pride is so important when we also create spaces to be able to express anger and hold space for that,” Grady said. “To have community with other dykes, that isn’t just corporate. It was incredible, seeing a lot of youth and joy. People feeling safe compared to other years.”
The protest carried into Washington Square Park and into the fountain, along the streets and then poured into local restaurants and bars.