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If they’ve lived in New York City long enough, any member of the LGBTQ+ community will tell you that the Pride March is not necessarily the main event of the weekend for everyone. It might be the biggest, the flashiest, and potentially the most newsworthy, but if you look a little closer, you’ll see a bigger picture of what queer life in NYC looks like during the last full weekend of June. And, once you look beyond the floats, rainbows, Pride Island, and (noted queen) Christina Aguilera of it all, you will see the 31st annual Dyke March.
The Dyke March, which takes place in cities across the United States during June is, by definition, a protest, not a parade. The NYC march’s website reads, in part: “The March is a demonstration of our First Amendment right to protest and takes place without permits or sponsors. We recognize that we must organize among ourselves to fight for our rights, safety, and visibility.”
Every year, the march has a different theme. This year, it happened to overlap with the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. With that date in mind, the march organizers responded with the theme, “Not Your F*cking Body, Not Your F*cking Business. Dykes for Bodily Autonomy.”
This year, there were the usual Dyke March staples: volunteer marshals linking hands along the sides of the route — which ran from Bryant Park to Washington Square Park — the Fogo Azul drumline playing out a beat along the way, the Queer Big Apple Corps, and the perennial “Lesbians Are Miracles” sign that regular marchers would recognize. There were also an appropriate amount of Barbie movie references and clever protest signs (“This Barbie is a dyke” was a particularly creative one).
But, for The Wildest, the most exciting part of the march were the dogs who joined their parents for the walk down 5th Avenue. We spoke with these pup parents — and their dogs, many of whom were safely dressed in booties to protect their feet from the heat or rain jackets in preparation for a predicted but, it turns out, nonexistent downpour — about why Dyke March is important to them.
Note: As always, be extra cautious when you’re taking your dog to any gathering, especially a parade or protest. Make sure they are OK with crowds, keep their paws safe from heat and the elements, and always bring lots of water. Avoid costumes or accessories that can overheat your dog or that are too tight or loose.
Kate, Sian, and Peaches
Kate told The Wildest that she’s been coming to Dyke March for over a decade. Peaches, to whom Kate lovingly refers as a “fancy mutt” and a “ShihPomChiPoo” — a Shih Tzu / Pomeranian / Chihuahua / Poodle — has been attending for at least 10 of those marches.
“The first Dyke Marches I came to were before we had any sort of marriage rights,” she said. “You know, Pride is a riot; I think it’s really important to show up and represent. There’s a massive backslide happening politically, and we have to show up in full force...And it’s great to be in spaces where you’re not only surrounded by likeminded folks, but you’re surrounded by like-minded activists.”
Anya and Illyana
This was Anya’s second year coming to the Dyke March, and it was her three-month-old rescue puppy Illyana’s first. Illyana attended Brooklyn Pride earlier this month, so her mom knew she’d love the festivities of Dyke March. Anya rescued Illyana, who is mostly Pit Bull, from local NYC rescue org Waldo’s Rescue Pen.
“She really likes meeting people,” Anya told The Wildest. “She’s very food-motivated, which makes everything easier. The only thing is that she has grown a good amount in the past two weeks, so it’s not gonna be as easy. We’re hoping she’ll walk more.” The Wildest caught a a glimpse of Illyana after the march, resting comfortably among her mom’s legs at Washington Square Park after what seemed to be a successful first protest for the pup.
“This is my entire community,” Anya said. “My New York home is the queer scene. Whenever I ask my friends what they’re doing for pride, no matter who it is, the only thing that everyone is doing is going to the Dyke March.”
Kayla, Melanie, and Navy
Considering the rainy forecast, two-year-old Navy’s parents were sure to dress her in a raincoat with a duck hood for her first Pride weekend and Dyke March. Later on in the march, The Wildest ran into Navy, who had shed her rain layer as the skies cleared.
“I just think it’s a nice community event,” Kayla said. “I think, especially with all the laws that people are trying to pass lately, it’s more important than ever.” And, as for why it was important that Navy tag along, their answer was simple: “Navy’s a dyke.”
Junior, Luis, and Magic
Junior and Luis heard about the Dyke March at the last minute and decided to take Luis’s boss’s dog, Magic, along for the event. Magic, a Cocker Spaniel, is a seasoned marcher; she walks in Brooklyn Pride and the Puerto Rican Day Parade, too.
Junior described the march as “diverse” and continued: “That’s the meaning of the march, you know? Everybody can be the way they want to be.”
Shay, Jamie, and Archie
This family has been attending Dyke March together for three years, since Shay and Jamie first brought home their Morkie, Archie.
“I’m excited to see all the queers in one place and to march with them,” Jamie said. “We were standing here and seeing signs that make us laugh. Just people that get it. I don’t need to look far; they’re all around me right now.”
Julia and Lulu
This was Julia and Lulu’s first Dyke March. Lulu, who Julia rescued from True North Rescue Mission in Brooklyn, is only four months old and was cuddling close to her mom and friends ahead of the march.
“I’m a dyke,” Julia said. “I like to think my dog’s a dyke, too. I’m here to support the dyke mission.”
Chivita and Arrebol
Arrebol is Chivita’s service dog. About 18 months ago, they were matched through Heritage Service Dogs, which is, according to their Instagram page, “a cross-disability organization created to help people through the process of raising and training their own service dog.”
This year, Arrebol joined Chivita for their first-ever NYC Dyke March and was sporting some booties on his feet (“safety first,” Chivita said). “I’m here to bask in, like, dyke, gender-queer abundance and beauty and just take up space with my people — and my pup.”
Nicole and Josie
This year was Nicole’s first Dyke March, so they were sure to don some flannel (and drape some over their Pit Bull / Hound, Josie), and head to 5th Avenue. Nicole, who co-parents Josie with their best friend, said it was important to them to show up this year for both political and personal reasons.
“This is my first non-corporate pride event, and I didn’t realize how important that was until I just did more research after I got out of a really long, committed relationship,” Nicole said. “I had never really participated in many pride events, so [I’m] just learning more. It’s important.”
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Hilary Weaver is the senior editor at The Wildest. She has previously been an editor at The Spruce Pets, ELLE, and The Cut. She was a staff writer at Vanity Fair from 2016 to 2019, and her work has been featured in Esquire, Refinery 29, BuzzFeed, Parade, and more. She lives with her herding pups, Georgie and Charlie.
Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.