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Rec centre trashes Dyke March posters

Rec centre trashes Dyke March posters
PRIDE / 'Stand up for queer women's rights' says the poster

Marcus McCann / Capital Xtra / Monday, August 18, 2008

Two women say they caught city staff ripping down a Dyke March poster at a local community centre Aug 16.

The women, Ashley Hardy and Ashley Hunkin, say they were told the poster wasn't appropriate because children use the facility.

The poster, half glam, half DIY, shows several pairs of affectionate lesbians as well as women striking power poses. One woman is topless, although her nipples are hidden under black stars.

Staff from the Plant Recreation Centre, at the corner of Somerset and Preston, did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

Hardy and Hunkin opted not to swim that afternoon. In an email to the Dyke March planners, the pair said they saw staff "smiling and snickering" after they complained about the poster being removed.

It's doubly galling because the Plant Recreation Centre is a city-owned public facility, Hardy says.

"That's the thing that really pissed me off," she says. "If this is how the city is treating the issue — there's no sensitivity, no training."

Dyke March organizer and Capital Xtra columnist Ariel Troster says that she dropped off more copies of the poster on Aug 17.

"We'd like the community centre to put the poster back up, first and foremost," says Troster. "We'd like an apology. And we'd like a clarification of the rules, if there's a city policy about this kind of thing."

Gay-themed material is often seen as more scandalous than comparable depictions of heterosexual situations. The Plant Recreation Centre, formerly Plant Bath, has pictures of people wearing bathing suits posted on its walls. The Dyke March material isn't any more risqué, Troster says.

"I question the idea that the Dyke March posters are not family friendly," she says. "We've gone out of our way to make sure we can accommodate families. Last year, there were tons of kids at the picnic."

The poles around the Plant facility have been plastered with Dyke March posters, Troster adds.

This isn't the first time that the Dyke March organizers have run into trouble. Last year, someone defaced their posters with the word "repent" in front of a church in Hintonburg. This year, volunteers confronted a man on Metcalfe St who was ripping down the ads.

Last winter, Capital Xtra faced opposition to the displaying their newspaper in a publicly owned community centre in the Hunt Club area. A three-month battle with city hall ended with the acknowledgment that Ottawa's gay and lesbian paper had the right to distribute copies in city facilities.

The Dyke March is taking place Aug 23 at 2pm, leaving from the Human Rights Monument on Elgin St. The March wraps up with a barbecue and concert at 3pm at Minto Park, across the Street from Jack Purcell Community Centre.

And as for advertising, it's full steam ahead.

"It just makes me more determined to put the posters everywhere," says Troster.
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