Being a young woman living in Toronto, with immigrant grandparents, I was raised to look into my future, strive for high standards and achieve great things; all principles ingrained in me by the strong women in my life. Within the month of March, International Women’s Day takes place on the eighth, giving me an excuse to celebrate the resilient women that I am lucky to have in my life. As we continue to break barriers every day as women, the future does not intimidate me, rather, I would like to educate myself more on our past and some key events that give us reason to keep fighting for the better. There are many crucial events that have taken place and mark moments in our history, however, I came across an article written last year about a Lesbian Pride March that took place in the streets of Toronto exactly forty years ago.
In the eighties, women empowerment was taking a step in the right direction with the mindset to do better but being held back by the actions of doing nothing. Women suffered through inequality and injustice which took forms like bias in government and male dominance, even in the LGBTQ+ communities. As a form of protest against both discrimination and racism, of lesbians and women of colour specifically, the Dyke March was created to challenge the control of white male power over events in Pride. After following the impact one had in Vancouver, British Columbia in May, the organization ‘Lesbians Against the Right’ decided the city of Toronto should host their own, which took place just five months later. The group of over 350 women participated and it shook history, after that, another similar march was not done until over fifteen years later.
Diving deeper into some of the history, protests like the Dyke March and Dykes on Bikes continued to go on in silence and undocumented, not only being held in Toronto but all over the United States as well. More groups formed and protested until they saw the impact they believed could happen and the one they deserved. One in particular protest was impactful as it was the day before an LGB March held in Washington, DC. A group called the ‘Lesbian Avengers’ decided to take that public space to be heard, the article even mentioned these women handed out over 8,000 flyers and having a total of about 20,000 lesbians being a part of the March. These women were able to fight their injustices and spark the beginning of a change they wanted to see in the world.
As we look back into the past struggles of the women, both part of the LGBTQ+ community and not, we are able to notice their persecution and find solutions to implement them in our current lives today. As young women in this generation, we also have different obstacles to overcome and we see that having a network of women working together often makes for a great resolution. Women being treated as a lesser equal just because of their gender is a serious social justice issue that unfortunately still takes place today, but spreading awareness of the past and creating opportunities to initiate a positive change for our future is a task we now realize is of the utmost importance. Taking part in or educating yourself and others about celebrations like International Women’s Day is a step in the right direction to fighting those small social justice battles in your life and a way to make our future a little brighter for everyone that chooses to take part in it.
“Dyke March.” QueerEvents.ca, www.queerevents.ca/events/toronto/community/2019-06-22/dyke-march.
“Eating Fire: A History of the Dyke March.” Queer Events, www.queerevents.ca/queer-corner/blog/history/history-dyke-march.
Hardwick, Courtney. “A Brief History Of The Toronto Dyke March.” IN Magazine, 24 July 2020, inmagazine.ca/2020/07/a-brief-history-of-the-toronto-dyke-march/.
Winsa, Patty. “Love, Support Prevail as Thousands Celebrate at Dyke March.” Thestar.com, 22 June 2019, www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/06/22/diversity-on-full-display-as-thousands-celebrate-dyke-march.html.