Brandie Balken is a longtime local activist heading up this year’s Dyke March which starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 7, at City Creek Park at the corner of State Street and North Temple. After a rally, participants will march down State Street at 4:30 p.m. to the Utah Pride Festival at Washington Square.
Why does Salt Lake City need a Dyke March?
All cities need a Dyke March—and we are proud that our community is furthering the tradition of this event that promotes visibility, empowerment and solidarity among our LBTQ participants.
How is the Dyke March different from the June 7 Utah Pride Parade? Why don’t they happen together?
So many things about it are different. The parade is first and foremost a celebration—it also features local politicians, businesses, corporate sponsors. The Dyke March is much more a demonstration—hence the title march and not parade. We have no corporate sponsors; we feature no businesses or “celebrities.” We are showing up to been seen as exactly who we are—individually and as a group. The march is not about marketing to a demographic, it is about being acknowledged as a demographic.
What are some of the biggest challenges local lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women and men face?
Visibility, solidarity and autonomy—I think that about covers it.
The organization behind this march is sWerve, known for its great parties. Does that mean the march will be like a party?
SweRve is the organization that started this march. In some ways, you could say the march is very much like a party—people are energized, excited and having fun! It is also very different in that the goal is much bigger than just having a great time: This is about the visibility and acknowledgement of women’s issues.
Is the Dyke March only open to lesbians?
We invite everyone who orients as a dyke to come join us. We are not in the business of exclusion; that said, this march is all about making queer women visible—along with the specific issues that they want to highlight.
Isn’t “dyke” an offensive word? Is it now OK to call lesbians dykes?
I can’t tell you how many times I have fielded this question. I identify as a dyke, and I’m proud of the term. I know, however, that there are a lot of people who don’t agree. Personally, I see it as a term that has been “taken back,” and that queer folks no longer allow it to hold negative connotation. I think, as with any term, the best idea is to let a person self identify, then respect their choice and use the terminology they choose.
You’re a longtime activist. What happened to make you one?
So many things—my mother and her passion for social justice, my studies in botany and the natural world and my coming out as a queer person. When I began to see the difference between the world that is and the world that I think should be, it was impossible not to be activated.
How do you avoid burnout and remain passionate about your causes?
Wow, I’ll let you know when I figure out that delicate balance. I think it has everything to do with seeking diversity in your causes, as well as building strong friendships and support networks. There are some amazing folks here, doing brilliant work—they inspire, nourish and sustain not only their causes but also each other.
What is the dress code for the Dyke March?
Come as you are, come as you want the world to see you—just come! Signs and dogs and kids and parents and musical instruments encouraged.