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Dyke Community Activists turns 21
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Dyke Community Activists turns 21

by Tina Gianoulis - Special to the SGN

Dyke Community Activists
21st Anniversary Party
October 24, 5 PM
Central Area
Community Center


The rush of optimism over electing a president that many call our "community organizer in chief" gave local activism a brief moment on the national stage, but most community activists have long looked only to each other for recognition and appreciation of their efforts. It is in this spirit that local group Dyke Community Activists has chosen to throw itself - and the community - a big party upon coming of age.

On October 24, 2009, Dyke Community Activists invites Lesbians, activists, friends, and supporters to gather at the Central Area Community Center, 500 30th Ave. S., from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The event is billed as a chance for members of the progressive community to relax and recharge while making new connections and building cooperation and support. A catered buffet and entertainment by a number of dynamic local performers will contribute to the spirit of revitalization, while an interactive timeline will allow guests to place themselves and their organizations within a framework of local, national, and international activism. Other activities will include a tabling area for group and individual networking and the option of video interviews to create an oral history of Seattle social justice work and the Queer community's central role in it.

In the spirit of building community, DCA is presenting an evening of local entertainment featuring spoken-word performances by Chrystos and Katrina Pestano, the African rhythms of Sistah Drum, and the vibrant women's a capella group Sankofa. The evening will finish with danceable klezmer tunes and Yiddish erotica by Sheila Fox and her band, followed by the Anzanga Marimba Ensemble. Lengthy breaks between performances will offer opportunities to socialize with other local activists and enjoy a sumptuous buffet provided by community caterer Golda Simon. Marla Nonken, a longtime Seattle activist and member of DCA, will perform on the piano as guests enjoy the displays and refreshments.

DCA is a Lesbian group that has been doing political work in Seattle since 1988. That year, the attention of the world was focused on the Middle East as a grassroots resistance movement arose among Palestinian people living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, areas occupied by Israeli government forces since 1967. This movement, called the Intifada, illuminated many repressive policies of the Israeli government, and progressives everywhere began to echo the Palestinian call for an end to the Occupation.

In Seattle, a group of Lesbians gathered to plan an ongoing action in support of the Palestinian Intifada. Feeling that a large part of the problem was an American tendency to feel that the situation is too complicated to comprehend, they created a set of educational panels with simple but detailed explanations of such issues as U.S. involvement in the Occupation, conditions of Palestinian women and children in the Occupied Territories, and Israeli resistance to the Occupation. As their first action, they displayed the panels at the Pike Place Market on a busy Saturday and passed out informational leaflets asking for an end to U.S. support for the Occupation and an egalitarian peace process.

The group called itself the Palestine Panel Project, adding the name Lesbian Work Group when they felt it was important to underscore their Lesbian identity. They continued to display the panels, show videos, and host women speakers to educate and raise consciousness about the Palestinian struggle, Israeli resistance to their government's actions, and anti-Semitism against both Jews and Arabs. Palestine Panel Project fundraisers sent money to aid women's groups working for peace. Though the group's work was mainly focused within the Lesbian community, they also worked in coalition with a wide variety of peace and justice groups.

After concentrating their efforts on ending the Israeli Occupation for 10 years, the group decided in 1998 to broaden its focus to include other local and national issues, while still keeping its international connection. They changed their name to Dyke Community Activists and continued to organize educationals and benefits to spotlight relevant issues from gentrification to globalization while raising funds for other grassroots organizations. In 2000, DCA members traveled to Washington D.C. and New York to participate in national and international demonstrations organized by anti-poverty and anti-violence group World March of Women 2000. Looking forward, the group hopes to gather a city-wide coalition to organize a Seattle response to World March of Women 2010, an international effort to end poverty and violence against women and children.

DCA is an open group that welcomes new members. Membership of the group has fluctuated, with many past members remaining in a sort of auxiliary status, helping and supporting DCA events. Indeed, as the name implies, DCA feels kinship with all dyke, Queer, and progressive activists, which inspired them to celebrate their own 21st anniversary, by giving the entire community the gift of a party celebrating the activism of us all.

For more information about the October 24 DCA anniversary celebration, or about Dyke Community Activists and their work, call 206-722-0729.

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