I marched in tiny Loup City, NE (population 1,000), my hometown, because I am appalled at the lack of respect for women, people of color, LGBTQ persons, the disabled, and the poor that I have seen coming from the new administration. I marched because I believe Nebraskans are fair and kind people, many of whom have been misled about the real threats to humanity. Those misleading stories have made many afraid and suspicious of their neighbors and strangers, and marching together can show them that we have nothing to fear but that fear and suspicion. I marched because the Midwest has been painted as an intolerant, backward, and ignorant section of the country, and that is simply not true. When we join together in love, truth, and acceptance, we show the rest of the nation that their perceptions of the Midwest are not accurate. I marched because those of us who hold those beliefs are not represented well by our elected officials, who need to know how many of us do not fall in line with the racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and xenophobic views that are expressed as examples of how citizens of the United States feel. I marched because I am terrified of what the future holds for my young granddaughters if we do not turn this country back to the loving and accepting land that I love.
I am a survivor of sexual assault. I am a mother. I am a taxpayer who wants to see my tax dollars go to help my fellow human beings not to line the pockets of the wealthy. I worked for many years in the helping fields where I treated abused women and children. I am sick of the patriarchal bull that perpetuates violence, undervalues the contributions of women and minorities. I am a Catholic who has seen the word bastardized and twisted to support oppressive laws when we should be keeping a firm separation of church and state. I am sick in my heart at the injustice rape victims, abuse victims, and people of color face in our legal system, especially when the perpetrators are white males.
As a parent and disability advocate, it’s so important to me to stand up for equal rights for everyone in our country. That includes women, LBGTQ people, disabled people, people of color, immigrants, refugees, everyone. Human rights for all are the bedrock of our society and I will always show up when one of our neighbors needs someone to help fight for their basic rights.
I marched because Trump is threatening so many rights that I believe everyone should have. I marched because I am genuinely scared for many of the lives of people I love. I marched because I have been silent and therefore complicit for too long. I needed to find my voice in this realm, and it will be an ongoing process, especially with continuing to acknowledge my privileges, but I will not back down now. There is too much at risk, for myself and others, and we all deserve to have our rights respected. All women deserve to have their reproductive rights and the right to decide what to do with their body. All LGBTQIA+ people deserve to feel safe and respected wherever they choose to go. All POC deserve to be treated like human beings and not less than just because of the color of their skin. All immigrants deserve a safe place to live without fear of being deported and/or harassed. I marched because of all of these things, and more, and I will not go back to being complicit.
When I was thirteen, I was taken and repeatedly raped for about 24 hours.
It was summer in a small town almost 20 years ago, so no one noticed I was missing. Too scared to tell my parents, and not understanding what happened or what to do, I used all my paper route money to take a taxi about thirty miles to a Planned Parenthood the next town over.
I knew they could help me; I had seen their flyers once, in a booth at the county fair.
When I arrived beat up, cut up, and bruised, they let me use the phone. I called my parents and told them I was staying over at a friend’s house.
The women at the clinic bandaged me up, extensively. They cleaned the cuts, the abrasions on my wrists, the scrapes on my cheeks. They cleaned up a couple cigarette burns. They iced my bruised and swollen face. They talked me through my first physical. They tested me for sexually transmitted diseases. They gave me the morning after pill.
I’m in my late twenties, which means I’d have an adolescent child now, had I gotten pregnant.
One of the women there gave me a ride back to my little town, and I stayed at a friend’s house for a couple days, until I could pass for having fallen off my bike.
I know what they did was borderline illegal, due to my age. But, I am forever grateful.
I know now that I could have told my parents, but I wasn’t ready.
It was MY choice.
And those women, those wonderful, courageous women who held me while I sobbed, who cleaned my cuts and bandaged me up, who held my hair back while I got sick, who held ice on my face and cradled me until I stopped shaking, who wrapped me in blankets and made me feel safe and strong and capable and whole and human again, they are heroes.
I will forever stand with Planned Parenthood, because they stood with me, even when I couldn’t stand for myself.
I also marched for my loved ones, my friends and family, especially those who are people of color and members of the lqbtq community. I marched for immigrants, who are some of the people I hold most dear in this community.
I march, I RESIST.
I will never back down from this fight.
I marched because I will not contribute to normalizing a man and his political party who have spread hate…for women, for minorities, for disabled, for sexual assault survivors, for people whose religion doesn’t match their own. It is not normal and it will never be normal.
I marched because I have three little nieces who deserve to grow up in a world where women are treated equally and whose sex can’t be used as a “pre-existing condition.” Girls who deserve to see powerful women running the world.
I marched because I refuse to accept that it’s okay for men to consistently beat out women who are more qualified than them for professional positions.
I marched because joking about and/or participating in sexual harassment, sexual assault, and abuse should NEVER be okay and should be disqualifying for someone in the highest office.
I marched because I will never side with people who support spreading hate to people because of their race, religion or sexual orientation.
I marched for all my LGBT friends who are scared that their right to get married will be taken away from them and that they will be allowed to be discriminated against for who they love.
I marched because it is 2017 and making fun of disabled people by a man who has had 70 years to learn that that is not acceptable is NOT OKAY.
I marched because I’ve spent an entire year dedicated to helping refugees from around the world who are escaping for their lives…From the month I spent volunteering in Lesvos, Greece, to welcoming a refugee family into their new home in Lincoln last month. I will never give in to fearmongering and xenophobia. I will never back down from supporting their human rights.
I marched because neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed.
I marched because my rights don’t matter unless everyone’s rights matter.
I marched because I love our country, and I value truth and freedom. Not even a week into his term, our new President has lied repeatedly; denied the press access to him and his administration; has silenced entities and organizations that disagree with him; is frighteningly unable to discern between the trivial and the important when attacking those who disagree with him (and he personally attacks citizens of the United States who disagree with him); and is destroying advances we’ve made in women’s/immigrants’/minorities’ rights, religious freedom, science education, affordable health care, environmental issues, and equality issues facing minorities. I value what rights we have in this country, and I’d like to preserve and expand them–not contract them. Women’s rights need to continue to grow and expand, and I believe the current President will not only fail to advance women’s issues (access to affordable health care and services, equal pay for equal work, affordable/reliable child care, educate legislative bodies/judges/attorneys about the rape culture in our society that gives the perpetrator every advantage, and many others), he’ll turn back the clock on the painstaking progress we’ve made.