Palm Springs has long been the home of an active, visible, engaged and fairly organized gay male community.
As for lesbians … not so much.
Enter the Dyke March. Now in its second year, the Palm Springs Dyke March will begin with speakers and entertainment at 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, at Frances Stevens Park, located at 555 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs. Around 5:30, the crowd will be led by a drum line down Palm Canyon Drive, through the Pride Festival and to the Arenas Road stage, where Kate Kendell, the leader of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, will speak. She’ll be followed onstage by amazing lesbian rocker Jennifer Corday.
Shann Carr, a local comedian and newish real-estate agent, is a member of the Dyke March’s steering community.
“The dyke march has a long, big, fat fucking history. It was started originally as a protest of invisibility,” Carr said. “It remains more of a protest movement than a pride march. I think no dyke march has ever gotten a permit before.”
While dyke marches have taken place in cities across the world for many decades, the Palm Springs Dyke March is a new thing. Carr said the fact that there is now a dyke march here shows that the local lesbian community is, thankfully, finally beginning to come together.
“Palm Springs’ lesbian community has never really escalated into a highly active social community,” Carr said. “But in the last couple of years, little pods of people are starting to gain momentum.”
As another example of this momentum, Carr pointed to the new and growing nonprofit The L-Fund, which offers financial assistance to local lesbians in need. President and founding member Barbara Carpenter will be one of the pre-march speakers at Francis Stevens Park, along with Gail Christian, one of the producers of the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival; and Janet Malachowsky, an associate vice president with The Relationship Group at Morgan Stanley, who not long ago served as the president of the board of the Desert Business Association, the valley’s LGBT business group. (Full disclosure: The author of this article is the current president of the DBA.)
Beyond the great speakers, what can Dyke March attendees expect?
“I suspect that at the rally site, it’ll be mostly lesbian,” Carr said. “That is who the march is named after—dykes, people who are proud dykes or lesbians who are not hung up on that word. That’s who will be there.”
That’s not to say that men and straight women won’t be welcome, Carr said. In fact, she said that she hopes men and straight women will show up in support. (Carr’s suggested chant for march supporters: “Go, dykes, go!”)
As the march heads through the Pride Festival and to the Arenas Road stage, the crowd will become much more diverse, and Carr said this is a very good thing.
“On Arenas, I hope everybody’s there, because Kate Kendell is such an amazing speaker,” Carr said.
After Kendell speaks and Jennifer Corday rocks, attendees can walk a couple hundred feet to the Hard Rock Hotel for the L-Fund Women’s Pride Dance, which will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight. DJ T-LA STORM will spin; tickets are $20 in advance at www.l-fund.org, or $30 at the door.
Carr—who said she’s always identified with the word “dyke”—said it’s fantastic that the local lesbian community is starting to make legitimate, tangible efforts to organize.
“In any community that is under-seen and, in our case, under-organized … it’s important to focus on what you want and how to get it,” she said.