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Advocates rally in annual Dyke and Trans March amid rising anti-LGBTQ sentiment

Gio Dolcecore took to the streets on Saturday alongside hundreds of advocates, allies and community members to send a message of solidarity.

“We have to gather not necessarily to celebrate but to continue to be activists and advocate for rights, for visibility, for community, for us to be able to gather peacefully,” Dolcecore said.

Dolececore is one of the organizers of this year’s Treaty 7 Dyke and Transgender March — a grassroots event separate from the larger, mainstream Pride parade. 

The Dyke March started as a riot and protest and continues to be held in many cities across the world as a protest. The first march in Calgary was held in 2010, later merging into into the Dyke and Trans March four years later.

While both Pride and the march are historically rooted in protest, it is widely seen that the latter takes a stronger, more political stance than its widely covered counterpart.

Two people are pictured
Gio Dolcecore (left) was one of the organizers of this year’s event. (Helen Pike/CBC)

On Saturday, marchers were seen wearing t-shirts with words like “Queer as in f*** you” and “REBEL” printed on them. Some were holding signs that read “Be Gay. Do Crime” and “Pride is Protest.”

“It’s a less corporate, more radical and local form of Pride,” said Aya Hamid. She’s been to other Dyke Marches in other cities, including San Francisco, but this was her first in Calgary.

“It wasn’t really centring more marginalized lesbians …but I feel like this one is a lot more inclusive.”

The march is typically held annually, but the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the trans and lesbian communities from gathering and marching together since March of 2019.

Since that time, however, a lot has changed for the LGBTQ community.

A person is pictured
Calgary’s Dyke March merged into the Dyke and Trans March in 2014. (Helen Pike/CBC)

There’s been a growing wave of LGBTQ opposition and an anti-transgender narrative across Alberta and Canada for the last several months.

Numerous drag shows and events have been met with protests since the beginning of this year — with some getting cancelled or rescheduled due to threats of violence against the transgender and drag communities.

Most recently in Fort Macleod, Alta., the historic Empress Theatre was damaged when four youths released a foul-smelling substance during a drag show.

It goes beyond the cancellations of events and the opposition of the LGBTQ community from the public, Docecore said.

They’ve noticed a rise in homophobia and transphobia in everything including statements made by politicians, access to health care and proposed changes to the education system.

“Many of us know what that’s like to live in solitude, to live without resource and community,” Docecore said.

“It’s difficult, it’s patronizing, but without this, without us coming together and being visible, things won’t shift. That’s why it’s so important for us to be here.”

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