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Is 'Dyke' Still Relevant?


Queer women weigh in on the d word.

01-rajaDalila Ali Rajah:
"I actually love the word and I think it is one that only same-gender-loving women should use. Yes, it's a double standard. One that was earned through years of pain caused by its use in the past. I know there are many that consider it offensive and painful. I think a sensitivity to that is important even within the community, and I think there is something powerful in women choosing to reclaim its use for ourselves if we so choose."

(Rajah is an actor, writer, and producer who's appeared in Dyke Central, How to Get Away With Murder, and the Here TV short Secrets & Toys.)


Veronica C. Combs:
"I love the word 'dyke.' It resonates with strength, power, and conviction. For a lot of society, the word rings loudly as 'other.' And I love being 'other.' I'd rather be other than 'normal.' I currently identify as a dyke. Queer dyke to be exact. And I love who I am. I love me some me."

(Combs, a.k.a. Vixen Noir, is a singer, songwriter, performance artist, and creator of the Motha Fucka tees; and promoter and headliner of Blackoustic, a night of black female performers in Los Angeles.)


Chanelle Tyson:
"I think there is power in a marginalized group reclaiming a word that was once used against them. For me, embracing the word 'dyke' is an act of defiance, a statement of pride that refuses to let anyone negatively define the person I am. Reclamation can give queer women a sense of control and identity that has been robbed from us for so long. So as long as 'dyke' is being used within the LGBTQ+ community, as a positive and empowering term, then I am all for it. Of course, the second it's used as a slur meant to demean someone's sexuality, however, then I am completely against it."

(Tyson is a filmmaker, writer, producer, and cofounder and resident director of Never Not Chillin Productions, and coproducer of Calling All Queer Queens, an Instagram media channel specializing in content for queer women.)


Lee Lynch:
"To me, the word 'dyke' evokes female strength. A dyke can be one of those knock-your-socks-off competent femmes whose seductiveness melts every butch in sight, or a butch with folded arms and a stern visage leaning against a car who makes straight married ladies wonder what it would be like to be with a woman. The word 'dyke' exudes as much power as the women who wear it like a royal title."

(Lynch is the author of dozens of award-winning books including Old Dyke Tales. Most recently she coedited Happy Hours, Our Lives in the Gay Bars, proceeds of which go to LGBTQI youth programs.)

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