This past Saturday, I participated in the Women’s March on Austin. This was in a series of marches coordinated across the nation in response to the recent inauguration of the new President. The biggest march on Saturday was the one in Washington D.C., which reportedly brought over 500,000 people to the march. The march was not just exclusively for women. It was a march for everyone that believes in women’s rights, the basic rights for the LGBT community, and others who feel like they’ll be left behind in this upcoming presidential administration. I participated in this march, and it was one of the most powerful and moving gatherings that I’ve ever been apart of.
I was debating going to the march for a little while not out of my lack of interest in the march, but because I genuinely thought it was exclusive to just women (this is probably why I’ll never go anywhere in life). But I later learned what I just previously told you, so I called up my friend if he wanted to go and he was down to go. What resulted was 3 hours of us hanging around the Texas State Capitol, talking with fellow marchers as we waited and eventually marched around Congress Avenue and Lavaca Street in Downtown Austin and hanging inside the Capitol before we called it a day. Not the most complex day but easily a day that I won’t ever forget.
Why did I decide to participate in this march, other than the fact that I could? Well, frankly, the rhetoric by the President and several Republican lawmakers that now have prominent public roles for the next 2-4 years concerns me. When the President of the United States brags on tape of grabbing women “by the pussy” in a bragging manner, it’s troubling as it is infuriating. We were supposed to continue going forward, not go backward in electing a rapist to the highest office in the land. The President of the United States is a scumbag. I don’t even dare call him a “man” because no real man would use the kind of language that the President has grown accustomed to his entire life. I refuse to just sit back and watch this administration unfold behind my laptop. I needed to get out and speak my voice.
I also did this because I love women. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without all the women that I’ve come across in my life for the past 20 years. My mother, my sister, all my teachers (Ms. Waters, Ms. Covington, Ms. Rivas, Ms. Darling, Ms. McIntyre), my friends, my family, and countless others that I’ve come across in my life. I marched not only for my support of basic human rights for women, but also for the same rights/protections of my LGBT brothers and sisters, along with my Muslim and Hispanic brothers and sisters (I am half-Mexican afterall). Any group of Americans that feel as if they won’t be properly represented by this new President was a group that I had in mind on that hot January Saturday in Austin, Texas.
The one thing that I noticed the most when I was there was the positivity of everyone involved in the march. The fear and anger that has fueled the news cycle for nearly two years could not be seen anywhere near this gathering. Everybody around us was incredibly nice and respectful to one another, and it was just this wonderful, beautiful thing. We were all feeling the same way about the same issues, so everyone treated everyone with such kindness and gratitude that you wouldn’t expect with a group of 50,000-plus people.
People were cheering one another on either in the march or on the sidelines on the balcony of the Stephen F. Austin hotel or on the sidewalks adjacent to Congress, West 6th Street, and Lavaca. I got compliments from bystanders and marchers on my “Bad Hombre” t-shirt, and I did the same for signs and shirts that I came across during the march. We laughed, we cried out of the pure beauty of it all, and we all came together as one. This might’ve been the moment in my life where I felt the proudest in being an American. This is the greatest country in the world, and I was able to witness democracy at its finest in the greatest city in the world, and not even a dirtbag of a President can ruin that for us.
The moment where I genuinely got choked up was when I got back to my house and started casually scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feed. Instead of it being covered with news stories and posts about how awful and horrible the next four years will be, it was instead replaced with photos of people marching in the streets of Austin. Friends with other friends, families with one another, mothers with their daughters, and so on. I damn near started bawling in my bedroom as I looked at each individual photo. I witnessed an optimism that I haven’t seen in quite some time, and it was stunning. Pure and simple. The next four years will be a tough one to get through, but we’ll all get through it together, united as one.
I hate to end this piece by quoting Bruce Springsteen because it’s terribly predictable for me to do so at this point, but I have a good reason to. After today, I kept going through a lyric from “Long Walk Home”:
“You know that flag flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.”
I kept thinking of this lyric after the election and I kept thinking about it today. What that lyric says to me is that as tough and hard that these next few years will be, and no matter how hard this dirtbag of President can try, he can never change who we are. This march and this gathering is who we are, and that’s Americans. Americans that care and Americans that are concerned and scared. Those concerns and fears were set aside today for a movement that I feel incredibly privileged to have been apart of.