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Chicago Dyke March held in Uptown
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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Chicago's Dyke March stepped off in Uptown June 23 with larger numbers than the annual event has seen in recent years.

Under overcast skies, an estimated 1,000 people took to the Uptown streets, singing and chanting. In many cases, spectators and local business owners waved and cheered back them.

Attendance at this year's march appeared to nearly double that of last year's South Shore neighborhood rally. The march travels to a new neighborhood every two years, and 2012 marked the first for Uptown.

Organizers said they put in significant effort in reaching out to local businesses and organizations after some marchers lamented that the 2011 South Shore march had failed to fully engage with the community around it.

Leading up to the march, the Chicago Dyke March Collective focused on the Argyle street area, which houses many South and East Asian businesses and organizations.

On Saturday, several local business owners and families lined the Uptown streets as the march kicked off on Argyle, traveled south down Sheridan Road, turned north on Broadway and concluded eastbound on Argyle.

Some onlookers applauded the march while others watched in apparent confusion. Overwhelmingly, the response from residents appeared amicable.

Marchers were confined to the sidewalks this year until police allowed the crowd to overtake Argyle at the end of the route. According to organizers, the march stretched out over five city blocks.

Ultimately, organizers said they were pleased with the event, which concluded without incident.

"This is what power to the people means," said Alexis Martinez, a Chicago Dyke March collective member. "This is what love means."

The march wrapped up with a rally and performances in Margate Park.

Chicago Dyke March is historically held the Saturday before the Chicago Annual Pride Parade as grassroots alternative to the parade, which some have criticized as too corporate. The event tends focus on queer pride, immigration issues, women's rights, transgender empowerment, racial justice, and disability pride.

Organizers said that while turnout for the 2012 march topped South Shore attendance, it remains lower than marches held in Andersonville and Pilsen.

Some photos in slideshow for Windy City Times by Kate Sosin; others courtesy Chicago Dyke March Collective.

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