In January of 2017, I lay awake in the middle of a panic attack. I felt defeated by the realization that my chronic illness kept me from participating in the Women's March on Washington. And then I had an idea. If friends could carry a poster with my photo and name on it, it might help me feel as if I were there with them, marching in spirit.
Then, I realized I couldn't be the only one feeling that way.
I reached out to ongoing chronic illness and disability advocates Allie Cashel and Erica Lupinacci of Suffering the Silence.
Two days later, we launched #MarchingWithMe.
What is #MarchingWithMe?
Recognizing that many people with chronic illness and disability cannot physically protest at marches and rallies, #MarchingWithMe organizes partnerships of ongoing advocacy between Supporters in our community and able-bodied Marchers.
Marchers wear a small, printable photo banner of their Supporter at protest events. To foster community, partners share personal stories with each other and increase the visibility of their shared advocacy by posting photos and experiences of events on social media with the #MarchingWithMe hashtag.
Together, we march for a stronger, more inclusive future.
#MARCHINGWITHME at the women's march
#MarchingWithMe launched in January, 2017, taking on the Women's Marches around the country. We had Marchers representing supporters in D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Tampa, San Francisco, and more - cities up to Toronto, Canada! Supporters like Noelle Chelli Lopez (pictured above, with Marcher Siobhan Hebron) wrote blog posts about their experience, and artists Claire Jamison and Donelle Fraser created images for Supporters. Teams took to social media to share their experience together, and we moved forward in testament to how humans are truly stronger together, and that the future is accessible.
#Marchingwithme at the march for science
Since our first Women's March event, #MarchingWithMe has offered to organize partnerships between Marchers and Supporters for individual cities under the umbrellas of the March for Science, the Tax March, the People's Climate March, the #Resist Pride marches, the Disability Pride March, the March for Racial Justice, the Solidarity for Peace March, and the 2018 Women's March.
We will continue to help those in the disability and chronic illness communities partner with physical representatives at such protest marches and rallies.