This is what it's all about
On Saturday 31/03/2012 armed with a camera phone, a pen and a pad I walked 25 minutes from my comfortable abode to Soho Sqaure to report and take part in the first Dyke Walk in london for 25 years. I got there at 5pm and was greeted with the familiar sight of what I call protest lesbians. You know, hemp wearing pierced/tattooed wildly coloured hair folk that you can bet your life are A: Socialists B:Think the world's gonna end if I don't reuse a plastic bag and C:Vegans. There are unconfirmed reports that at least 80% were vegetarians. And of course, there were dreadlocks.
To my dismay I realised many other journalists (budding and established) had exactly the same idea. Don't get me wrong, I expected that what I didn't expect was how inadequate I would feel. There were digital SLRs everywhere making my camera phone a little redundant. I had the smallest willy in the journalistic pissing contest.
Of course no protest/march/rally is complete without placards. If there are no placards then it cannot be any of the aforementioned events. No placard no protest. It's the law.
If I knew the English Collective of Prostitutes would be in attendance I would've brought more than lunch money.
This looks like happiness!
After my little walkabout I retired to a bench where I was soon joined by a group of bemused French tourists. They were saying things that sounded a little like this; "shuma shuma shuma shuma lesbiOn". I caught the sight of two lesbian parents being very loving and tender towards their children. I don't think there is a lovlier sight then that of 2 women bringing up a child. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture but take my word for it, it was just beautiful.
Women are often gentle (er) by nature but the Metropolitan Po-leeece are taking no chances where activism is concerned. Maybe they watched "Lesbian Vampire Killers" I know I didn't.
Call it jounalistic intuition or just dumb luck but I managed to get prime position at the front of the stage when the speakers were just about to come on so I stayed put and waited for the magic to happen...
I wasn't disappointed!
The first speaker was LGBT disabled rights activist Kirsten Hearne. Her good humoured anecdotal speech was very eye opening and entertaining. The only cause for concern was one heckler who who shouted to the assistant to bring the mic closer. Thouroughly enjoyable with a serious message. How we able bodies in the community treat LGBT people with disabilities reflects upon us as a whole.
The next speaker was the effervescent Lady Phyll Opoku activist and organisiser/co-founder of UK Black Pride (check back here for an interview in the coming weeks) who was the one and only representative for women of colour. She gave a confident rousing speech highlighting how different ethnic groups experience the struggle differently and the importance of standing up for what you believe in. Powerful and thought provoking.
Lady Phyll Opoku
Next in line was Chinese lesbian activist Shitou (pronounced Shee-too). Shitou is known for being the first women to come out on Chinese television. She is also a film maker, artist and photographer. Her English was less than fluent though her message was warm, positive and well recieved. It's all about love.
And finally, the first professional lesbian to get an MBE it's Claire Dimyon. Her message was reminiscent of the other speakers and she provided many humorous and some devestating anecdotes from her travels across the continent. She is one of those multi lingual people that are so proud of it they say a sentence in another language at least once every 60 seconds. Her speech was a little too long to hold my attention but she made an interesting point about lesbians often fighting causes that don't affect them whilst we have to fight our causes alone. I guess she's entitled to show off. If I had an MBE showing off wouldn't even cover it!
All in all it was a really inspiring event if a little self congratulatory at times and I really think events like this make our community strong. What really took me aback was the distinct lack of melanin infused skin in the crowd. There were a few BME faces but nowhere near what I would call adequate representation. I spoke to Lady Phyll after the talks and she informed me that other BME organisations didn't take part as they didn't believe Dyke March was representative of their issues or where they were coming from. Basically, they feel Dyke March is for white people.
Let me put it like this-you've got to be in it to win it. I don't particularly care for the product Cillit Bang, their annoying advertisments or that gimmicky penny trick. This does not stop them putting their product out there to the masses in the hopes that the few who do like the idea will puchase and make it a success. We've got to flood the mainstream with our issues, idea's and ideals in the hopes that they filter into the rest of the community. Getting involved in the politics would strengthen our voice giving us the power to set agendas rather than go along with someone elses.Get involved, It's actually alot of fun! If we as black women continue to be indifferent to the mainstream we will forever be sidelined.
Sirena Reynolds, Editor