This is the thought that has played on repeat inside my head over the past few days. I was deciding on whether I wanted to attend an event with a lot of controversy attached to its name. The Equality March will be held all around the world but I wanted to be at the capital of where change happens… Washington D.C.
I had people ask me, “Why do you have to go to this March just to prove a point?” or “Is this really worth dying for?” I didn’t know how to answer. Suddenly, I gave into the voices tearing me back and forth. I cancelled my bus ticket to Washington and cried for what felt like hours. I cried for myself. I cried for the LGBTQ community. I cried because it felt like although I was so close to getting there, something would always stop me.
I wanted to go to stand up for something in my life. I wanted to take a stand and fight for what I believe in. Change takes action and in order to do so, we must be active in trying to change our current situation. Sure, I could have marched anywhere but I wanted to be in the heart of it all.
Something that was hard for me to fathom was how my level of fear increased after wanting to go to this march. It increases because of what I was marching for. Equality. A word that means coming together and being able to all have the same rights was the very thing I was scared to march for. Now I wasn’t scared because of who I am or being associated with the LGBTQ community and so on. I was scared because no matter how far we have come as a nation, we still aren’t equal.
On paper, it could state that we are all one and equality exists but if that were true, marches and protests wouldn’t be needed to fight for one’s rights. If everyone was just accepted for who they were, we wouldn’t need to march down the streets of Washington D.C in 90-degree weather. We wouldn’t be fighting for rights that we should already have.
I heard about a shooting in a movie theater during the Joker premiere a few years ago. I didn’t go to the movies for a couple of months. For those couple of months, I lived my life in fear. I thought to myself, “I could go but knowing my luck something will happen once I finally decide to go”. So, a few months later I went to the movies; nothing happened. To this day, I still panic every time the usher walks across the movie screen to check the doors. Every time I go to the movies I let a little bit of fear enter my brain and accept that I may die but I still go.
We can’t let fear control us and stop us from living our lives. At the march, secret service put up barriers around making it harder for over half a million people to walk peacefully through in 90-degree weather. At one point people started shouting and fear crept up on me again because I felt unsafe and exposed in that moment. I felt on edge and terrified that someone was going to start shooting or something bad would happen. For the first time, I felt what it was like to struggle for equality. I felt was it was like to really fight for something. In going to the march, I also realized how far we still needed to progress within all fields not just in equality.
Another thought that crossed my mind was if I die today the reason would be because I wanted to stand up for something I believe in. I wanted to be who I am. To think we live in a world where we still have to feel unsafe being who we are is something I will never understand. I went back and forth but ultimately decided to go and march because if I let fear control me than I have given in and let them win.
Although things may scare us, we can’t stop living our lives. I was able to be a part of history and witness was it was like to come together to fight for one common goal. I felt nothing but love, passion and encouragement spread throughout the people who walked next to me. Although I was vulnerable and scared, I felt free and able to be who I was judgement free. I didn’t feel labeled for who I am or for what I believe in. I just felt like me. Push through the fears and go after what you believe in. Once we stop letting it control us, we gain back our lives.