Critical Pride Part 2: Midnight Mass & the Dyke March

Posted by & filed under Blogosphere, Cycling, LGBT, Politics, Vancouver.

As a followup to some of the discussion resulting from yesterday’s post comparing Pride and Critical Mass, I thought I’d extend the metaphor to my preferred alternative events: Midnight Mass and the Dyke March.

Speaking personally, Pride is generally not generally my thing: it’s loud, it’s hot, and the parade, at least, is not really participatory. I don’t like watching things, I like doing things. One of the things I like doing is the Vancouver Dyke March.

Rather than a spectator, I find myself taking the role of a participant, walking up Commercial Drive with friends, amongst a fairly laid-back crowd, where one is more likely to see women with strollers than thongs. Honestly, I like the fact that it’s a smaller event, as well: for me, there’s a much greater feeling of community than I feel at Pride.

But back to Midnight Mass. (“That’s a Catholic thing, right?”) Sometimes! In this post, however, Midnight Mass is Vancouver’s answer to LA’s Midnight Ridazz group: a regular late-night ride through LA — with a number of regulars numbering in the thousands.

When I look at the Midnight Ridazz site, the first thing that stands out to me is a shout-out to an LAPD officer that escorted them on a recent ride:

The Midnight Ridazz would like to extend a sincere thanks to the LAPD and especially to the officer (whose name we did not get) who recently helped to escort our ride through the streets of Los Angeles. We are all part of the neighborhoods we ride and we support the LAPD!

Hearing this message from a loose group with a strong DIY, anti-commercial perspective is likely surprising for anyone expecting this to be Critical Mass at night, but the Midnight Ridazz’ site describes the ride as both anti-confrontational and apolitical as well.

Respect for space, drivers and the sleeping residents of the neighbourhoods through which they ride is also a core value of Vancouver’s Midnight Mass community: In this post to Vancouver’s Midnight Mass LiveJournal community from 2007, one participant shares his concerns about the ride becoming too rowdy.

We don’t need to ride 6 people abreast and block 3 lanes of traffic. There are only like 20 odd people; this isn’t Critical Mass. We really should keep over to the side and just take one lane. It is all we need.

I can appreciate this because it’s not justifying, nor criticizing Critical Mass. The point is that this isn’t Critical Mass. Rather, the author is just pointing out the differences between conduct expected among the small crowd present at Midnight Mass and what was observed.

“So Catherine, if you’re skeptical of both Pride and Critical Mass and a fan of both their smaller, less-flashy counterparts, does that make you someone who just hates things because they’re popular?”

You hush. The Dyke March has its roots in somewhat more confrontational politics than the Pride parade, originating as a protest both in favour of lesbian (and later, bisexual and transgender) rights, as well as against misogyny within the gay rights movement of the 80s and 90s.

(Also, yes, yes it does.)

So, if you’re interested, the Vancouver Dyke March begins walking towards Grandview Park from McSpadden Park at 12 noon this Saturday, August 1st. I hope to see you there!

Midnight Mass Vancouver occurs every second and fourth Thursday of the month, starting from Grandview Park at 12 midnight. I am usually in bed by this time.

Organizers of both events recommend showing up early to meet fellow participants.

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