Dyke March deserves praise

Hundreds of queer women taking to the streets of Ferndale with pride - it's a beautiful thing.

With no underwear-clad boys, bears or leather men in sight, June 5 truly was a day for Michigan's womyn community to shine proudly at the first-ever Southeast Michigan Dyke March and Rally.

And while many of the marchers also attended Motor City Pride on June 6, the meaning of Saturday's event was clear: This is not Pride. This is not corporate. And, most importantly, this is about women.

The day truly showed what one grassroots group of friends can accomplish when they put their hearts and minds to it. Julia LeBrell, Eric Folkmire, Meggie Cliff, Audrey Long and Nadia Maraachli deserve a big round of applause for their efforts - and probably a day at the spa, too. For the better part of a year, they raised money for their event through small fundraisers and "Open Myke" nights, while mapping out their plans and taking steps to do things legally and in a well thought-out fashion. And they didn't just pull it off - they went above and beyond.

It was no picnic in the park with friends. There were performances to schedule, city permits to obtain, volunteers to train. None of these people have careers in event planning or experience dealing with city rules and restrictions. None of them got paid to put the Dyke March together and no one's organization was promoted.

Perhaps that's what made the march so special and so moving for the people involved: It wasn't about raising money or getting a paycheck, and there was no agenda except inclusiveness, visibility and honoring the power of women. No one cared about the turnout or what media attention they garnered. It just had to happen.

Legal Chair and Volunteer Coordinator Julia LeBrell said it best: "When we began planning this event, we joked that even if it was just the five of us marching along the Nine Mile sidewalk with a handmade banner between, it would have been completely worth it. But there's absolutely no way that we could have imagined how today's events would have turned out."

As it was, things turned out incredibly well, and we at Between The Lines are happy they did, because that means there will be plenty of energy and inspiration to begin planning for next year's Dyke March. We're sure that plans would continue regardless of this year's outcome, but it's safe to say that the overwhelming response - from both the lesbian community and beyond - secured in the minds of organizers that this was an important thing to do. And that they'll do it again.

Until then - and for those who missed this year's stellar inaugural event - we can continue our marching and our community spirit at the Michigan Pride festival on June 12.

But we look forward to the second annual Southeast Michigan Dyke March and hope that the plans and efforts of four young lesbians (and one super-supportive gay man) will inspire others to become involved as well, whether its with the Dyke March, or planning another event for the LGBT community. Congratulations to you, dyke marchers. Your dream came true - and then some.

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