I was fortunate to visit Berlin during part of their Pride celebrations. It is called Christopher Street Day. Although the first CSD parade took to the streets in West Berlin on June 30th 1979 Dyke Pride Marches began in New York in the 70’s but then faded out. The biggest Dyke March ever seen was the 1993 March on Washington DC of 20,000 lesbians the night before the scheduled LGBTI March . The Dyke March was led by the Lesbian Avengers to push back against censure, erasure, and systemic cruelty. It challenged the injustices of the state and the injustices within the LGBTI community of male dominance. Getting funds to create and maintain lesbian spaces is a challenge by itself as the Charlotte Museum Trust has experienced in the past 12 years.
In 1981 Dyke Marches began in Vancouver and here in Berlin since 2012.
It is held separately from the LGBTI Pride Parade with its many vehicular floats.
Dyke Marches are a platform for lesbian visibility, anti-sexist and feminist topics. It is free of commercial advertising and political party banners and floats. Dyke on Bikes lead the parade with a bike group from Hamburg joining them. There was only one vehicle in the whole parade. This van pumped out women’s music and at one staged was pushed to save petrol and many lesbian feminist groups and issues were represented in the 5,000 women marching.
“Lesbians are the new Queer” with the women’s sign intertwined with a labrys, “The Lesbians are Coming”, “Remember the Riots”, “We Have So Much Clit We Don’t Need Balls”, “My Wonderful Aging Programme Loves Sex”, “Lesbian Against the Right”, “For my Own Chosen Living Space When I am Old”, “The Future is Fluid”, and many waving labrys.
The march ended with the “Dycyles” Dykes on Bicycles.
Although the lesbians represented many difficult aspects of discrimination, ill health and housing issues it was a very jolly parade. After the closing speeches at the Südblock the celebrating and discussions continued at three bars nearby.
This was so different from the CSD Parade the next day with many corporate and political floats involving a million people and dragged on for over six hours on a sunny 36 degree afternoon.
What I also found exhilarating was the Lesbian show at the Schulz Museum. Usually this gay museum is male dominated but this year it had a large lesbian herstory exhibition with early music in podcasts where you could pick up ear phones and listen, watch film clips from the early lesbian movement as well as a range of poets, writers and artists. I saw work from Claude Cahun (1894 -1954) I had not seen before and my friend Kate Weiss who founded a woman’s centre and gallery. I was sad they did not show a copy of Die Freundin the first known lesbian magazine in the world. Recently a box was found in an attic. They were up for sale and Spinnboden the lesbian archive had to raise 6000 euros to buy them. Several other gay groups pitched and they are now archived with copies at Spinnboden to view. Charlotte Museum Trust also has copies with many other lesbian magazines in many different languages.
We were so lucky to stay in Schöneberg the old gay district I have been visiting since 1986. So we were able to see the tribute to Hilda Radusch, the poet, who survived incarceration in a concentration camp for being lesbian. Hilda and Käte Weiss (founder of the Women’s Centre RUT) are no longer with us but their memory is recorded. It was a poignant time for me.
Dr Miriam Saphira