Wendy Sue Biegeleisen, one of the founding members of Dyke March – San Diego, has come out against the actions of the Chicago Dyke March this year.
On 24 June, during the annual Chicago Dyke March (CDM), three Jewish women were asked to leave due to their Pride flag, which included a Star of David on it. While the organizers of CDM claim the flag made other marchers feel ‘unsafe’ and that the march is ‘anti-Zionist,’ many, including Biegeleisen, see this incident as anti-Semitic.
On 30 June, Biegeleisen penned an open letter on Facebook addressing this issue. The full text is below:
Dear Beloved Ones,
I am extremely disappointed in the actions taken by the Chicago – Dyke March Organization toward the Jewish LGBTQ Organization, ‘A Wider Bridge’ this weekend. A Wider Bridge works to connect and network with the International LGBTQ Communities and the World Wide Jewish Communities; focusing on creating Peace, Understanding and Pride. A major priority for A Wider Bridge is creating safe space for all our LGBTQ Youth throughout the world.
I am a founding Mother of San Diego – Dyke March and San Diego Lesbian Avengers in the early 1990’s, co-producing 1999 and 2000 San Diego – Dyke March and Rally. I find the exclusionary actions of Chicago – Dyke March organizers toward A Wider Bridge disheartening, sad and not in keeping with the Lesbian visibility mission of Lesbian Avengers and Dyke March Equality Movement. I am ashamed that an organization I affiliate with since it’s conception would embrace antisemitism and exclude a Jewish LGBTQ Organization. With the rise of violence, bombings, torture and murder toward both Jews and LGBTQ people world wide, the actions of Chicago – Dyke March MUST be condemned.
As I’m sure you can tell, Dyke March and Lesbian Avenger Movements are very close to my heart. Words can not describe how sad, disheartened and angry I am with Chicago Dyke March and their decision to exclude Jewish LGBTQ, especially Jewish Lesbians in this year’s Chicago Dyke March. As a Jewish, Zionist, Radical Activist, Lesbian, Feminist, Dyke; I would be excluded too. I am seeing activist groups all over the USA being taken over by the BDS movement supporters over and over again and it is getting worse.
I left the International Occupy Movement and Women Occupy San Diego group after 5 years, because the Occupy Movement went from being neutral, to taking a public Anti-Israel/Jewish stand and active involvement in pro-Palestinian/BDS actions. Occupy Movement and Women Occupy San Diego banners, posters and members were attending pro-Palestinian/BDS activities, rallies and marches. I was verbally abused and attacked in these groups, when I reveled I was Jewish and Zionist. I will not work in an activist movement where I am not appreciated for the person that I am.
I am proud that my Mother’s Father and Uncle (my Grandfather and Great Uncle) was editor and published the Jewish Home Journal, were both a part of the Reformed Movement in NY beginning at the turn of the 1900’s and raised a lot of money to support the creation of the State of Israel in the 1910’s until their deaths. I will not apologize for my or my family’s support of Israel and will be a Zionist until the day I die.
Lesbian Avengers and Dyke Marches were created because of the lack of Lesbian Visibility in the larger LGBTQ community during the height of the AIDS crisis in the early 1990’s. At the time, 2 separate hate crime firebombings happened to Lesbian couples’ homes in Oregon and Florida. Both Lesbian couples received death threats if they left their homes. The two couples were both at the March On Washington when the firebombings occurred. ‘The Fire Will Not Consume Us! We Take It And Make It Our Own!’ is a chant stated before Lesbian Avengers ate fire during our Marches and Rallies to remember and remind us why we are fighting for Equality and Lesbian Visibility.
Now Chicago – Dyke March organizers are creating the same hateful, bigoted, exclusionary events that original Lesbian Avengers and Dyke Marches were organized to fight world wide bigotry, violence and hatred toward Lesbians.
Something MUST be done to stop this blatant antisemitism that is growing in the LGBTQ community! I’m not sure what, though first off – WE who are LGBTQ and allies MUST publicly speak out in our personal circles, groups, organizations, social media and condemn the antisemitic actions of the Chicago Dyke March organizers.
Chicago – Dyke March owes ‘A Wider Bridge’ Jewish LGBTQ organization and allies a huge apology for their discrimination of Jewish people in the Chicago -Dyke March. I would also suggest Chicago – Dyke March, review the original Mission Statement that the organization was founded upon – the discrimination of and invisibility of Lesbians.
WE must take a stand against antisemitism, Misogyny, Racism and all the isms in our LGBTQ Community!
WE MUST work together for our Equal Rights!
LGBTQ Pride Marches, Parades, Rallies and other events MUST be a safe, inclusive space for ALL people to Celebrate our Pride, Diversity and Love.
GSN spoke with Biegeleisen about this issue.
According to Biegeleisen, she was blocked from the Chicago Dyke March’s Facebook page for sharing the above letter.
The Chicago Dyke March has set up a YouCaring page to raise $5,000 for a ‘retreat’ for its organizers. The fundraiser has been met with backlash from members of the Jewish community, but CDM deleted all the critical comments from the page and closed the comments section.
‘Chicago Dyke March organizers continue to stand by their divisive, anti-Semitic decision. They have changed their truth about what happened at this year’s Dyke March numerous times,’ Biegeleisen says.
‘I would ask them, what are their goals for this “retreat”? How will a “retreat” bring Peace and Unity to our diverse Dyke Community?’
‘Chicago Dyke March organizers and the Lesbian Community as a whole would best be served by holding a “retreat” including Jewish Lesbian/Dyke Members of A Wider Bridge organization and a professional mediator. Issues can then be discussed openly and resolved with the goal towards our Dyke Unity in Diversity. Dyke March Mission has always been Lesbian Visibility, ALL Dykes: Buddhist, Wicca, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Atheist, Pagan etc. and our allies – ALL deserve to feel safe at Dyke Marches.’
Biegeleisen was also critical of CDM’s use of the slogan ‘From The River To The Sea,’ which has historically been used in anti-Semitic contexts.
‘This disgusting anti-Semitic, Jew hating chant has been around since before WWII,’ she states. Those who chose to use it, have the same mindset as the Nazi, Jewish hating movement who murdered millions and millions of Jews throughout the history of our Jewish people, including into our present day world.’
‘Hamas, PLO, Hezbollah, ISIS, etc. Muslim extremist groups use anti-Semitic chants to stir up hate against Jews. The meaning behind this type of hate speech is their common goal to remove all Jews out of Israel and drive the Jews into the sea to our death.’
‘I can say that Jewish people are and have always been treated differently, because we are Jewish,’ Biegeleisen says.