Marching to Meet Anger With Love

The Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and in sister cities around the world inspired millions to take to the streets earlier this month on the heels of the inauguration of President Trump. It was such a successful show of momentum, in fact, that several marches like it — for scientists, climate change advocates and the LGBTQ community — are in the works in the coming months.

Jason Barnaby, Senior Engagement Manager at, lives in the Greater Saint Louis, Missouri area. I talked to him to get a sense of why he thought it was important to join the Women’s March there and his hopes for what comes next.

Q: Tell me about your history of marching. Have you done it before?

A: My history with marching is not very long. I’ve always been on the periphery of marches and activism — I cared passionately about the issues of the day — but it never extended beyond conversations with friends and family. I hesitate to take action against authority since I grew up a military brat and served in the military later. 

That changed when I was kicked out of the Army for being gay. Because the institutions I believed in didn’t protect me, I realized I needed to work outside of the system. It led me to work on the first Obama presidential campaign in 2008. Even after that victory, I saw how much there was still a need to push the powerful, even those I helped elect, externally.

It led to my first marches in DC: One to close Guantanamo Bay, and another for LGBTQ equality.

Q: Why did you go to the Women’s March?

A: After the election, I wasn’t sure where to channel my energy. I had so many feelings about it and the future. It’s also a strange time between an election and the inauguration — everything felt like a hypothetical, a wait and see.

Then I started hearing about a big Women’s March in DC. It seemed like it could be exciting. Or dangerous with the high emotions. When I saw the Facebook event for the march in St. Louis. I decided this was a way to respond and channel all of the emotions I had. I never expected it would be over 13,000. It was an amazing moment to see the crowd and know I wasn’t alone.

Q: How did it feel to be there?

A: It was more than I could have ever expected. To have that many people, with such diversity of people and passions, felt like a community of people full of love had come together for the country they loved and for each other. I was a little nervous going to the march. I saw a handful of people in DC turn the peaceful inauguration protests into the destruction of property and hurling things at the police. I didn’t want to see that happen here in St. Louis.

It’s been a tough few years in the St. Louis area. Many people in this area, especially those who’ve never protested, see people marching in the streets with signs as something to fear. Ferguson weighs heavy on everyone who lives here, even those who take to the streets, and I wanted the march to be something powerful — not something manipulated by the powerful.

Luckily, there was no violence here or at any of the protests. It was the empowering event I think the organizers intended. It was really like meeting this darkness and hatred with a lot of love. It could have been something more angry and hateful, because it’s easier to meet anger with anger instead of meeting anger with love.

Q: What are your thoughts about what comes next?

A: The (Women’s March) committee is working quickly to harness this momentum. Immediately that evening after the march, I saw Facebook invitations for groups to join to take action in my suburban town outside of St. Louis.

I think in this moment, I’ve never felt more of a desire to be active at some level, whether it’s on the town hall that we have here, our assembly, running for office, or helping other people run for office. In the past, I feel like I’ve made a lot of excuses for not being more involved at the local level. It’s time to reevaluate my own self and what role I want to play, what kind of leadership and support I can provide in my community.

Being a guy at a Women’s March made me think about being a strong ally. Sometimes being a good ally means just showing up and listening. That’s the legacy of the Women’s March. I want to just be present and be an ally and support what happens. Maybe speaking up if there are wrongs.

Change requires us to step outside of our comfort zone, and you’d be surprised what you find outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid of failing or making mistakes, there will be a supportive and understanding group of people around you. Not every step is going to be a historic march. The more people are involved, the more likely we’ll be successful.

Written by
Joshunda Sanders
January 31, 2017 5:17 pm