The Vancouver Dyke March: A Balance of Celebration and Protest, Aug. 5, 2017

By Casey Stepaniuk

The Dyke March has always been my favourite Vancouver Pride weekend event. Held on the Saturday of Pride weekend every year, the day before the parade put on by the Vancouver Pride Society in the West End, the Dyke March (and Festival) is a beautiful blend of celebration and protest held in East Van on Commercial Drive. The idea behind the event, in the words of the organizers, is to create a march and festival that:

“…celebrates and centres the experiences of those whose gender identity or expression intersects with their sexual orientation to further marginalize them within the broader LGBTQIA2S+ community, including but not limited to trans and cisgender women and femmes, as well as other trans, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and non-binary individuals.”

In their mission statement on the website, they go on to say that participants may not all identify with the word dyke, but might use terms like “lesbian, queer, two-spirited, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or aromantic” to describe themselves.

Dyke March 2016 | Image via

The Dyke March is a 100% volunteer-run event and is obviously a labour of love, with an awesome grassroots feel. If you’re looking for a quieter Pride weekend event without the corporate overload of the Sunday parade, the Dyke March is for you!

The 14th Annual Dyke March is happening this year on August 5th 2017. You can join in on all or part of the festivities. If you’re an early bird, get to McSpadden Park (off Bauer street between Commercial and Victoria Drive) around 11:30 and get ready for the march down Commercial Drive at noon. This is a classic, political protest kind of march, not a parade with floats! Anyone—including allies—can march without registering beforehand. But there are definitely lots of folks (and pets!) with awesome costumes as well as celebratory and protest signs that makes a pretty colourful crowd. So get creative! The march all in all takes between half an hour to an hour depending on your speed of walking or other transit means.

If you sleep in and miss the march, all is not lost! From 1pm until 5pm, a festival is held at Grandview Park (Commercial and Charles). You can drop by the festival anytime. It’s a wonderful time to hang out on the grass with friends and people watch (just watch out for running into your ex, which has happened to me the last few years running!). There’s a stage featuring all sorts of local and localish entertainment—musicians, drag kings, dance, comedy, and more—with ASL interpretation! As well, there’s a smallish group of vendors, many of which are non-profit organizations who you can support, among other ways, by buying pride paraphernalia from. Last year Black Lives Matter had a great selection of beautiful pins with assorted designs. I also won free tickets for a Queer Film Festival movie at their stand!

See you there, in solidarity!

When: Saturday August 5th; Meet at 11:30am; the March starts at 12pm; the Festival goes from 1-5pm
Where: Meet at McSpadden Park; March goes down Commercial Drive; Festival is held at Grandview Park
How Much: Free! But you can support this entirely volunteer-run event by donating here. And bring cash to the festival to buy fun stuff from local queer and queer-positive vendors.

Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian-in-training who runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find LGBTQ+ Canadian book reviews and a queer book advice column. She also writes for Book Riot. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian

Would you like to win VIP tickets to the 2018 Vancouver Queer Film Festival, along with airfare to get you here? Enter here, and don’t forget to sign up for the Out In Vancouver newsletter (check the little box) while you’re at it to stay informed! (It’s quarterly, we won’t clutter your inbox.)

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