Opinion

He huatau

Berlin Dyke March

Miriam Saphira was in Berlin in time for their Dyke Pride March on Christopher Street Day. 

Berline Dyke March 2The first CSD LGBTI parade, with lots of truck-based floats, took to the streets in West Berlin on June 30 in 1979 and Dyke Pride Marches began in 2012. They had also been held in New York in the 70s, and since in 1981 in Vancouver.

Dyke Marches are a platform for lesbian visibility, anti-sexist and feminist topics. They are free of commercial advertising and political party banners and floats.

Dyke on Bikes, including a bike group from Hamburg, led the parade of 5,000 women including many lesbian feminist groups and issues. The sole vehicle pumped out women’s music, and was pushed for part of the parade to save petrol.

Berlin Dyke March1Among the placards were ‘Lesbians are the new queer’ with a 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 labryses.

The march ended with the Dycyles – Dykes on bicycles.

Berlin Dyke March 3.jpgAlthough the placards represented difficult aspects of discrimination, ill health and housing, it was a very jolly parade. After the closing speeches at the Südblock, the celebrating and discussions continued at three nearby bars.

The Dyke March was very different from the CSD Parade the next day, which included many corporate and political floats, involved a million people and lasted more than six hours in 36° heat.

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. It featured early music in podcasts, which visitors could listen to on earphones; film clips from the early lesbian movement; and a range of poets, writers and artists.  I saw work from Claude Cahun (1894-1954) that was new to me, and my friend Käte Weiss who founded a woman’s centre and gallery.

Die_freundin_1928I was sad they did not show a copy of Die Freundin, the first known lesbian magazine in the world (1924), recently found in a box in an attic. Spinnboden, the lesbian archive, had to raise €6,000 euros to buy them. Several other gay groups pitched and they are now archived, with copies at Spinnboden to view. The Charlotte Museum Trust in Auckland also has copies as well as other lesbian magazines in different languages.

We were so lucky to stay in Schöneberg, the old gay district I have been visiting since 1986. We were able to see the tribute to poet Hilda Radusch, who survived incarceration in a concentration camp for being lesbian. Hilda and Käte Weiss are no longer with us but their memory is recorded. It was a poignant time for me.

Photos of the march by Brigitte Dummer.

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