The inaugural Dyke March happened in Washington DC on the eve of the April 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights. The March on Washington heavily focused on gay military members in response to Clinton’s recent upholding of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and wanted to present the LGBT+ community as highly patriotic with Military members leading the March. The March ended with a gathering on the Mall and even a performance from Ru Paul. Although there was some resistance to the March’s mission, namely Akiko Carver’s speech, the queer and straight press chose to highlight the more palatable military focus.
The Lesbian Avengers conceived the first Dyke March in Fall of 1992, after finding out the 1993 March on Washington would have no special portion for lesbians and concerns of diversity from the March committee were overlooked. So they organized their own.
Starting in November of 1992, the Avengers put out flyers for the March around New York City and reaching out to Avengers groups around the nation. Avengers organizing with groups such as ACT UP and Puss n’ Boots in LA spread word of the lesbian march happening in Washington DC on group calls encompassing dykes around the country. Yet, the big push for the Dyke March would come just two days before the event, when Avengers handed out over 8,000 palm cards about the event.
It worked. Over 20,000 Dykes showed up at DuPont Circle, accompanied with a homemade Dyke March and Vagina puppet at the helm. Even without a permit, so many were experienced in civil disobedience and marshal training that the group had no problems making it to the White House to demonstrate.
Image and History preserved at the Brooklyn Herstory Archives, found via the Library of Congress’ Archives of Human Sexuality and Identity, Part 1: LGBT History and Culture Digital Archive Since 1940 Database.