Lesbian and bi women and their allies scored a huge hit for
visibility as 500 marched through London's West End during Dyke
March London 2012 yesterday.
A sharp drop in the temperature did not put off marchers, who
gathered at Soho Square to hear speakers rousingly lay out the
reasons for marching before moving off.
Addressing the crowd were disability rights campaigner Kristen
Hearn, Lady Phyll Opoku of UK Black Pride, Chinese lesbian activist
Shi Tou, META editor Paris Lees and Clare Dimyon, who received an
MBE for her activism in Central and Eastern Europe.
Speakers talked movingly about the continuing need for lesbian
and bi women's activism and visibility in spite of the huge legal
advances made since central London's last lesbian marches in the
Describing LGBT activism in China, where she was the first
lesbian to come out on national TV, Shi Tou said that she hoped one
day every city in the world would have its own Dyke March. Her
activism, she told us, came from her "deepest heart".
Clare Dimyon spoke of her doubts about accepting royal
recognition for her work, since the certificate she received bore
the same signature that had signed Section 28 into (and out of)
law, and how an attendant at the ceremony comforted her, saying:
"Accept it, as an apology from your country." She has gone on to
use her medal to start conversations and break down doors in
countries such as Russia and Lithuania.
Many of the speakers emphasised the need for unity and
solidarity, drawing whoops and applause from the diverse marchers
who carried placards bearing slogans such as "Visibility is the tip
of the iceberg", "Snatch the day!" and "We recruit".
Led by disabled dykes and a large contingent of Dykes on
Bicycles, the march rolled out of Soho via Old Compton Street, the
heart of London's gay village, before striking out down Charing
Cross Road, past Trafalgar Square and across the river Thames at
Hungerford Bridge, to end at the BFI Southbank.
The mood remained buoyant in the event's aftermath, with
marchers commenting on the supportive response from the pavements
and the fantastic experience of marching as out lesbian and bi
women as part of a crowd that included different ages, abilities,
ethnicities and gender identities.
As one marcher told DIVA, "For a couple of hours, the streets
were ours, and didn't it feel great!"
See Dyke March London's Facebook page for further