Jenny Block, out the march


Standing in what felt like a sea of women, I found myself unable to shout in protest for fear that I would break into tears. I have often felt like breaking into tears since He Who Shall Not Be Named was announced as the next president. I won’t say “won the election,” because he did not. And I won’t say “our president,” for he is not mine. I have wavered between empowered anger and paralyzing fear and sadness since I realized that this was not a post-apocalyptic movie plot, but instead our shared reality … at least for the moment.

That is why my fiancé, Robin, said we should go and march on Austin the day following the inauguration. She knew it was what I needed: To see power in action, to see what happens when you piss off women and the LGBTQ community and the African-American community and the Muslim community and… He sought to divide us; instead, he united us. There is nothing more powerful than a common enemy and now we have one. Oh, boy, do we have one.

As we pulled into the J.W. Marriott, we could already see people marching ahead and hear them chanting, though they were a number of blocks away. It was the anti-Trump march. The energy was palpable. We found out later there was an LGBTQ rally on the Capitol lawn at that same moment. You could tell. You could tell there was a buzz, a shift, a unity. Something I had been longing for but hadn’t felt since that mournful day. We weren’t even in the thick of it, but you could tell.

The bellman asked about our giant pieces of foam core, “For the march tomorrow?” he asked. “Yes,” we said. “Right on!” he said as he wheeled in our cart of glittery poster supplies and suitcases of pussy hats and T-shirts with slogans like “Don’t Trump on me” and “Your body is a battleground” and “I pay my taxes — I want my rights.” The woman who checked us in was equally excited for us. I felt supported in a very public way that I desperately needed and had not felt till then.

After we had dinner and laughed till we cried at Esther’s Follies as their team deliciously skewered “him,” I stayed up until 3 a.m. knitting the last of the yarn I had into a final pussy hat for the march. There is something cathartic about turning nothing into something, about using an age-old craft to create a newborn symbol.

The next morning, we jumped up to make our signs. Armed with foam core, stickers, stencils, markers and all things glittery, we set to crafting. “Think outside my box,” Robin’s read. “Mom can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit,” mine read, inspired by a photo my mom had sent me of an old Polish woman with a sign that read, “I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit.”

The sidewalks were already packed on our short walk to the Capitol. We wove our way through and as the Capitol dome came into view, I felt like the tears would overcome me. We were doing this — we were being forced to do this, to fight for our very lives, our existence. Fifty years ago my mom marched. Twenty-five-plus years ago I marched. And here we are, with a racist, homophobic, misogynist bigot in the highest office in our country. And so it was time to march again and shout again and remind the powers that be who is really in charge and who they really do work for: us.

We worked our way through a giant crowd that just kept getting bigger. We found the Human Rights Campaign flag and joined with friends. We donned our pussy hats. We practiced our chants. We volunteered to carry the mammoth flag, and then we took to the streets.

I am getting chills all over again writing about this. We marched and shouted; the sidewalks were packed with people cheering us on. There were no fights. There was no violence. There weren’t even counter-protesters — even they knew they didn’t stand a chance. No one stood a chance against this group that felt like it was literally beaming love and peace and unity out into the universe. Yes, I know how cheesy that sounds; yes, it is true.

We marched and we marched. And we made our way back to the Capitol. The lawn was packed. Not “full” — packed. Overflowing into the street and the longer we were there, the more people flooded in.

Robin lifted me up figuratively on Saturday, taking me to the March and when we got to the Capitol she did it literally, too, helping me climb up onto a ledge so I could see the speakers and the entire crowd. I stood not at the Capitol, but on the Capitol as Wendy Davis, Senfronia Thompson, Lizzie Velasquez and others took the stage.

Two days later, I still have a march hangover. Much like when I used to go to summer camp, I wish I could live there forever. Live among like-minded people who are more interested in the greater good than themselves. Live among intelligent people, caring people, thoughtful people, people who will resist when incited. And we have been incited. Until that is my everyday reality, until equality and peace are every human’s reality, I will march.

Thank you, Robin, for knowing me. For knowing that I needed to be surrounded by the power of women, by the power of the people, by the power of truth and hope and love. Watch out, temporary White House resident — we’re coming for you and all of your cronies. Midterm elections will be upon us before you know it. And we won’t stop until we are not only heard, but also listened to. And, trust me, you will listen. You lie, but our numbers don’t.              

 Block is the author of the The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex, foreword by Betty Dodson.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2017.