Revisiting the Second International Dyke March hosted in Dublin in 1998

The theme of the march was ‘Lust for Power’, a slogan reminding all that female sexuality is an almighty force.

Participants at the second International Dyke March in Dublin hold a banner with the slogan 'Lust for Power'.
Image: Twitter: @IzzyKamikaze

As a part of Lesbian Visibility Week 2022, GCN is revisiting one of the many landmark moments in Ireland’s lesbian history. On Friday, June 26, 1998, Dublin was the host of the Second International Dyke March which saw 300 participants take to the streets of the capital to highlight the country’s vibrant Sapphic community.

The protest travelled to Dublin after first taking place in New York City on June 25, 1994, themed ‘Ignite the Riot!’ Roughly 40,000 marchers did exactly that, proudly parading the area with the occasion described as “the most dramatic and significant event of the week commemorating Stonewall 25 years previously.”

It was the success of this first march that inspired women from across Ireland to collaborate with members of the New York-based Irish Lesbian and Gay Organisation (ILGO) and bring the International Dyke March to Dublin for its second rendition. Some of the New Yorkers even made the arduous journey to the Emerald Isle, bringing with them a beautiful banner that they had made especially.

Described as “colourful, joyful and loud”, the march which commenced at 7PM from the Garden of Remembrance boasted the slogan ‘Lust for Power’ – a battle cry that was emblazoned on banners carried throughout the city streets. This particular theme was chosen “Because our sexuality is what makes us who we are, and our lust for sex, for life, for freedom, is a powerful force,” explained one GCN contributor.

While it was a celebratory event, the political meaning was not lost, and ultimately, it was a protest. Not only was the aim to bring lesbians out of the shadows and into the spotlight, but its purpose was also to remind wider society that female sexuality was not taboo, and did not need to be hidden. Furthermore, it provided newly out queer women an opportunity to find support and to experience unity and strength in numbers. 

The event took place the day before Dublin Pride ‘98, and was a fierce addition to the festivities. Organisers on the International Dyke March Committee intended for it to be fun, and when calling for attendees in Issue 103 of GCN, they wrote: “It will not be necessary to take off your clothes, but if you feel like doing so, go right ahead.

“Dancing, singing, marching, chanting, kissing; do whatever you want to do in celebration of yourself and ourselves,” they added.

“Whether you want to march with our friends, your organisation, under a banner or in your own name – in costume, in drag, naked as a jaybird – it’s up to you. What’s important is that you should get there!” another article reads.

Both a Glasgow-based drumming band and an Irish samba band performed on the day, with a host of other events also running in tandem with the march. There was a lesbian poetry reading and wine reception held in Waterstones Bookshop in Dawson Street on Thursday, June 25, women-only Get Bold workshops at the Outhouse Open Day on June 27, and an evening of performances from “some of the hottest dykes in Dublin” as well as dancer Tara Brandel in The Furnace club in Aston Quay on the same Saturday, followed by music from a surprise band and late-night disco.

Irish lesbian trailblazer Izzy Kamikaze was at the forefront of the festivities, and described it as “dyke power unleashed in the street”. Although it was a fantastic occasion, she sadly added that “The Dyke March was something the TERFs stole from Dykes,” and is perhaps the reason for the lack of similar events today.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.