BY Crystal Proxmire
Project XYZ is hosting the SE Michigan Dyke March for the third year in a row June 16. The march is one of dozens of Dyke Marches taking place throughout the country during the month of June, a tradition which started in 1993.
The march steps off at 2 p.m. from the Withington Parking lot near the northwest corner of Nine Mile and Woodward, proceeds west on Nine Mile, and ends with a rally at Geary Park at 2:30 p.m., which includes music and speeches.
Of the multiple events taking part over Ferndale Pride Weekend (including Light the Night, Rainbow Run, and many others), Dyke March is unique in that it started a year before as a completely independent project put on by a group of young people apart from any larger organization.
The oldest of the founders, Audrey Long, was only 25 at the time. She and four friends were so impressed with a similar event in Chicago they decided to have one here in Ferndale.
“We saw the Chicago and Toronto Dyke March and after trying to find the Michigan one we realized that we needed to step up and create it so others could experience it here too. On top of our march we do number of other events throughout the year. It is an incredible amount of work but every year it is all worth the months of hard work and dedication,” Long said.
Long, Alex Eggerson, Eric Folkmire and Julia Lebrell make up the Project XYZ Board, and they have gone from meeting every two weeks, to meeting every week as the event draws near. “We have been able to develop this event a lot over the last three years. I don’t think any of us would have thought it would be such a huge amount of behind the scenes work. Pulling permits, booking speakers and talent, promotions, security, and coordinating volunteers are just a few things that we quickly became familiar with,” Long said.
Last year there were 600 participants, double from the year before. The group hopes that turnout will double again this year. They even bought a booth at Motor City Pride last weekend to support the event and to invite more people out to Ferndale for theirs.
It’s not just a march for lesbians, but for all people who believe in equality. Many LGBTQ people march alongside allies, including children, family members and neighbors.
“Our event is all about feeling safe in a community that welcomes all people regardless of who they are. Our event is all ages, family friendly, and all inclusive. One of our main goals is to continue to offer an event in the southeast Michigan area that promotes and celebrates the inclusion of lesbians, transgendered individuals, bisexuals, and others in the queer community. We hope that people go back into their daily lives with a greater sense of the community that understands and accepts whomever they may be,” Long said.
Find out more about the SE Michigan Dyke March at http://www.semidykemarch.org/events.html.