One event included in the Chicago Pride 2017 festivities, the Chicago Dyke March, is coming under fire for allegedly telling marchers carrying a rainbow flag emblazoned with the Jewish Star of David symbol to go home, according to ChicagoPride.com. Members of the march, which touts itself as a “more inclusive” alternative to the annual Chicago Pride Parade, shocked Jewish parade attendees with their action, which some interpreted as anti-semitic.
History Of The Dyke March
According to Windy City Times, the Chicago Dyke March began as an alternative LGBTQ Pride event to the annual Chicago Pride Parade, which organizers felt focused too much on gay white males. Although “dyke” has been historically used as a derogatory slur for “lesbian,” it has been “reclaimed” in many LGBT contexts, in an effort for LGBT individuals to “own” the word in an attempt to remove its stigma. A more common iteration of this strategy is the use of this word as the name of a more recently-established kind of LGBT march, which aims to be a less corporate, less formal, and more inclusive version of typical LGBT Pride parades. Organizer Alexis Martinez explains,
“Dyke Marches across the country go to the grassroots struggle of oppressed people.”
Dancers at Chicago Pride Parade 2017 [Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]
The ‘Jewish Pride’ Flag Controversy
According to the Windy City Times, three people carrying Jewish Pride flags, which is a rainbow flag with a Star of David at the center, were asked to leave because they were told that the flags “made people feel unsafe,” adding that the march was “pro-Palestinian” and “anti-Zionist.”
The individuals carrying the flags stated that they did not understand why they were being singled out, especially when the Chicago Dyke March purported to be inclusive of all identities, adding that the rainbow Star of David flag was simply an expression of pride in Jewish identity and was not meant to be a hateful or offensive gesture. ChicagoPride.com reports LGBT historian Sukie de la Croix’s comments on the incident:
“Anti-semitism is everywhere. I’m not surprised at all. Nobody is more intolerant of differing opinions than the gay community.”
In the Youtube video of the Chicago Dyke March posted by Windy City Times writer Tracy Baim, a marcher can be seen holding the Star of David rainbow flag at about five minutes and thirty-eight seconds into the video. This marcher is followed a few minutes later by another attendee carrying the same flag and wearing a shirt that appears to say “Proud Jewish dyke.” This is not unlike other flags and messages displayed at the parade, including trans pride flags and a sign reading “Queer Asians against white supremacy.”
What Does ‘Inclusive’ Really Mean?
The Jewish Pride flag controversy at the 2017 Chicago Dyke March calls into question the definition of “inclusiveness.” Does it really mean that everyone is included, or just those whose beliefs and identities fit a certain mold?
Even if it was true that the removed flag wavers were trying to make some sort of political statement, they would not be without company at the Chicago March, where a plethora of political signs were displayed, including ones that read “Sanctuary for all, no exceptions,” “No cops, no borders,” “All cops are bastards,” and “Queer POC lives matter,” a likely reference to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The individuals who asked the Star of David rainbow flag-wavers to leave the Chicago parade argue that the crux of the issue was other attendees feeling “unsafe.” But it is unclear whether other messages at the parade may have caused a different set of people with different identities, interests, or beliefs to feel “unsafe” or unwelcome.
You can’t tell there’s a crowd of counter-protesters behind us because we have them totally blocked out and drowned out ✊ #DykeMarch pic.twitter.com/yiUpRgsVSD
— PSL Chicago (@PSLchicago) June 24, 2017
The LGBTQ community may have a long way to go before they are able to reconcile all of the various identities and beliefs that comprise their supporters. It is unclear whether the Chicago Pride incident will increase tensions between the LGBT and Jewish communities, or what this event could mean for Jews who identify with the LGBT Pride movement.
[Featured Image by hafakot/Shutterstock]