Athens Turns out for Rainy Women’s March< < Back to
Editor’s Note: delfin bautista uses they/them pronouns and spells their name with lower case letters. Bee Irwin also uses they/them pronouns. WOUB News is honoring their preferences.
Local residents, from Ohio University and the greater Athens County area, participated in the 2nd annual Women’s March despite the rain Saturday afternoon.
Women’s marches were held across the nation, including the nation’s capital, where in 2017 the first march took place on the day after President Trump’s inauguration.
The Athens march started at the Scripps Amphitheater where women from a range of ages and backgrounds spoke about climate change, wage inequality and poverty, sexual assault, immigration, and reproductive justice. Local issues such as hate speech and microaggressions towards minorities in Athens were also discussed.
The march then made its way down Court Street and to the courthouse where more speeches were given.
Former Ohio LGBTQ Center director delfin bautista was the emcee of the event. Several times during the event, the crowd chanted “Justice for delfin!” in response to their recent dismissal as director of the LGBTQ Center.
Bee Irwin, co-organizer of the Ohio University group called Swarm, gave a speech about women and trans people’s rights and spoke about moving forward despite not having delfin.
Irwin said they were planning on only speaking about President Trump’s policy pledge that called for the banning of Transgender people from serving in the military and the President’s administration considering narrowing the definition of gender. However, once delfin was let go and put on paid administrative leave, Iwin said they added more to their speech.
“It’s no longer an attack from the government but an attack from the [Ohio University] administration,” Irwin said. “ There’s been a lack of student activism on campus and now more than ever we need activism from queer people.”
Nicole Rhoads, an employee for the Wayne National Forest, said she participated in the march to show her support for the LGBTQ+ community and express her concerns about the current government shutdown, which as of Saturday was in its 29th day.
“I am a contractor to the government which means I don’t get retroactive pay,” Rhoads said. “ I was furloughed over the holidays which was fine, I had time off anyways so that didn’t really matter. But, last week I couldn’t go into work and I’m not allowed to use government facilities or equipment.”
Rhoads joined others in the march to Howard Park where free workshops were provided such as active bystander training, self-defense for women and girls, activism, burnout and self-care, and naloxone training and distribution (naloxone is a drug that reverses an opioid overdose).
The people who remained at the end of the march chanted, “we are cold, we are wet, yet we persist!”
Although the group shrunk in size towards the end of the event, Irwin said they are pleased with how many people came out for the march.
“I don’t think we had as many people as last year but that’s OK because we still have a lot of people who care and I think it will grow as the year goes on.”