By Julie Harthill Clayton
Two Saturdays ago, I stood, marched, cried, chanted and exercised my first amendment right “peaceably to assemble” with a diverse sea of humanity–500,000 or more–for the Women’s March on Washington.
It was one of the most memorable and moving experiences of my life.
Why did I march? Because “women’s rights are human rights.”
And I will vigorously defend the right of every woman—even the ones with whom I disagree—to express their views. This freedom is part of what makes America great.
But to dig deeper, why did I get up at 4:15 a.m. to finish adorning the pussy hat that I knit by hand, with purple ribbons representing men and women who couldn’t march with me?
Because I am a bisexual white woman. In a relationship with a man.
The color of my skin, my ability to pass as straight, affords me privileges that many of my LGBTQIA friends and family don’t have.
I own my privilege.
I choose not to hide behind it.
I am a loud, proud bisexual who refuses to pass.
A well-meaning acquaintance suggested that I just lay low for the next four years. Respectfully, I say “No.” That dishonors those who can’t pass, it dishonors my own long personal struggle with my sexuality and identity, it dishonors my fellow bisexuals who are afraid that the “B” in LGBTQIA will be silent.
The “B” must not be silent. We matter, too.
And so I marched. For all the LGBTQIAs. Because we deserve a world in which we don’t have to hide.
I marched for my kick-ass, superhero U.S. Army veteran fiancé. For the women who have shaped him into the feminist he is today.
I marched for those whose causes I agree with.
And for those with whom I disagree. “Whatever each individual woman is facing—only she knows her biggest challenge,” says Gloria Steinem.
I marched for the women who didn’t support the march. There are centuries of women who fought, suffered, and sacrificed so that today all women might feel empowered, respected, and treated as first-class citizens.
I marched for the male children I birthed and raised to be thoughtful, kind and compassionate. And to express their views and make their voices heard. I love them with all my heart, though our worldviews sometimes clash. I know that the women who brought them into being—my mother’s mother and her mother—are woven into their fabric.
I marched for the right for others to call me a “snowflake.” A “feathery ice crystal, displaying sixfold symmetry.” A snowflake is a thing of beauty. Fragile? Yes, at times. But each blizzard starts with a single snowflake.
I marched because I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
“Why I Marched” was previously published by GayRVA.
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing and not arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel, Two Tickets to Freedom, a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
Photo credit: Julie Harthill Clayton