On the morning of that day, I was full of nerves, full of self-doubt. Never before had I felt strongly enough about anything to "take to the streets".
Was I doing it for the right reasons? Was I doing it at all? Why now? What's so important this time?
I don't like crowds of people. I find people, en mass, to be scared, excitable beings, prone to being startled into stampeding. That scares me. Quite substantially.
What scares me more, however, is the idea that the sexism, misogyny, racism, intolerance, disrespect will continue to worsen over the next four years. That I cannot abide.
I set aside my personal reservations and applied my lipstick (my Lips of Power) that morning with a false resolve I hoped would solidify into the real thing.
I tried to buoy myself on the journey into London. In the car, I felt an unease, a low almost thrumming in my chest that always signals an impending panic attack. The feeling never abated but it also never grew, for which I was grateful.
|My early morning thoughts before applying my Lips of Power.|
Finally, we were on our way. We joined the marching and I was plainly relieved when the tight crowd parted to allow inclusion for even more supporters.
No one was angry. No one was shouting foul language. Everyone was smiling at each other, showing solidarity, kinship, welcome.
I saw people of every description that day. Every age group. Every shade and colour of skin. Every gender. Every physical ability. As far as I could see, everyone was represented and London, my darling London, the "melting pot" that it is, truly did her citizens proud.
We marched to Trafalgar Square, which was already packed. Sandi Toksvig spoke briefly, though, I'm not really sure what she said as the sound system wasn't robust enough for the message she was trying to convey, the quality of her words had diminished so much by the time it reached us that what she had said was unintelligible to us in the back.
Sandi left the stage and we were lead in a rendition of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" - I will forever think of the 21st of January 2017 when I hear the words "I got all my sisters with me".
The song, the thousands of voices joined in expressing the perfect sentiment, was what finally broke through all of my reserve.
I'm not ashamed to say: I cried. I wept. In public.
I didn't cry for long, however. I was reminded of the reasons I was there, the reasons others were there, the reasons that so many people left their comfortable homes on a bright, cold Saturday to show solidarity, to show unwillingness to accept, to publicly decry injustices that have fallen as well as the fear of future offences.
I took one photo, the one at the top. One solitary photo. I was too enveloped in the scenes, the emotions before me to worry about getting a snapshot. I didn't need to take any pictures. There are plenty of photographers who are better than I at capturing crowds who have captured thousands of images of the day. From marches all around the world, images of my sisters, my brothers, all my siblings, worldwide who rose that day.
I do not accept. I do not sit. I rose and I will rise. I will go high.
I will ever send all of my love and my gratitude to every single person who made that day possible.
If you want to know what my reasons are, please feel free to ask. This, however, is not the place for my reasons for marching, so I have left them aside.