What am I marching for?

Why I marched and organized for science.

My brother, Anthony, holds a butterfly we helped raise.

What am I marching for? I’m marching for a childhood that knew the scent of milkweed and the feeling of caterpillars crawling on my hands. I’m marching for the silent moment when a chrysalis turns from green to black-and-orange. I’m marching for a world where you can hear the flutter of a butterfly’s wings as it tests its wings against the air.

I’m marching so I can keep seeing newts in riverbeds and under logs.

What am I marching for? I’m marching for clear, babbling streams, teeming with clams that retreat into the sand under my curious, clumsy feet. I’m marching for my mother, my brother and I finding animal skulls and owl pellets in the woods. I’m marching for the family that found themselves together in our grandparents’ back yard, whistling to birds and watching fox kits peek out from under barns.

She’s a brave kid but she has trouble walking for more than a few minutes.

Who am I marching for? I’m marching for my sister. I’m marching for a girl born with a rare mutation, a one-in-a-million baby riddled with benign tumors. I’m marching because walking causes her pain. I’m marching because my sister lives in pain, with tumors pinching, pulling, straining her nerves. I’m marching because she was dealt a bad genetic hand, one that robs her hearing, cuts her mobility, drains her stamina. I march for kids like my sister — disabled, disadvantaged, invisible — because there aren’t enough of them to make their disease profitable. I march because any one of us could have been such a child, any of us could have such a child.

I’m marching because this lake is as toxic as it is beautiful, because it is not safe to swim or drink.

What am I marching for? I’m marching for my valley, the Santa Clara Valley. I’m marching for a place teeming with two million people, scarred by 21 Superfund sites and untold places of environmental contamination. I’m marching because we live next to toxic waste, the legacy of decades of under-regulated industry. I march because we have to live here after they move on. I’m marching for the village of Nassau in New York,where their water is brought in on trucks, the groundwater is polluted, and a toxic lake is held back from the Hudson by a decaying dam. I’m marching because this is our legacy; I’m marching so this doesn’t become our future.

I march because silence is death.

What am I marching for? I’m marching for friends I never made. I’m marching because the last time the political class decided to ignore science and health funding a generation of gay men was devastated. I march for the tens of millions who died worldwide. I’m marching because I was told I couldn’t be gay at a university that was funded, in part, by grants written in blood, written with the deaths of queer folk like me. I’m marching because our deaths haven’t yet bought us a place at the scientific table. I’m marching because many of those people live on — neglected, isolated and ignored. I’m marching because people are still dying. I’m marching because I can’t wait for the current president’s Gay Best Friend to die in a climate change-attributed “extreme weather event” or in some new plague. I march because I can’t wait for people who are comfortable and happy to notice our pain. I march because I don’t want us to wait until it’s too late.

I know not everybody is able to march. I know not everybody wants to. I know that the March for Science has (rightly)lost the trust of many in the #marginsci community. I march in the hope that you’ll do things other than march, that we together will fill the voice mails of our politicians, that we’ll flood their inboxes digital and physical, that we’ll make town halls loud and angry. I march hoping to see you at other marches, to work with you in other places. I march because as imperfect as the march is I’ve met good, caring, badass people at my local march and I can’t let them down.

If you have a reason to march I hope to see you there. If I don’t, here’s hoping that I see you at the next one.

The March for Science is in 400+ cities worldwide. You can find your local march here. A version of this piece was published on Queereka.com

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